On Saturday night, L suggested that we go out for Indian food. I make Indian food at home, so I never see the need to go out for it. However, as L rarely requests to dine anywhere, I obliged. Due to the wintry roads, I told him to find a restaurant near us. He picked Masala Bhavan. For this post, let’s listen to “Jai Ho”.
When we arrived at 6:00 p.m., the restaurant was less than a quarter full. Within half an hour, the room filled up with customers and Skip the Dishes drivers.
We ordered two Rani beers (Minhas Brewery, $5.50), Cauliflower 65 ($7.95), Tikka Masala ($14.95), Biryani Chicken ($14.95), and Butter Naan ($2.75). My pen pal Bruce K recommended that I tell the chef I like full flavours in order to get the best of what he or she has to offer.
Our appetizer was yummy. The thin, crispy batter on the cauliflower had a medium spice to it. Though it was deep-fried, the cauliflower wasn’t greasy.
Cauliflower 65 reminded me Leopold’s Tavern’s cauliflower hot wings, but better because of the deeper flavour profile. The mint sauce added a pop of flavour and cooled down the heat. A squirt of lemon juice gave the deep-fried cauliflower a zing to it.
Our server said the chef didn’t hold back with the spices in the tikka masala. The boneless chicken was enveloped in a thick, spicy infused tomato sauce. The chicken was so hot, I could feel myself start to perspire.
The biryani came with raita, a yogurt based sauce, as well as a side of eggplant curry. When our server lifted the lid, we could smell a waft of cinnamon and nutmeg. The fluffy rice was fragrant, studded with onions and spices. There were three pieces of bone-in chicken. The meat was juicy and moist. This was a noticeable heat to this dish as well.
The eggplant was soft and smokey. The tomato and onion sauce was tart and tangy from the tamarind. The eggplant was a nice change from the heat of the tikka chicken and the aromatic biryani. I’d order this again.
The raita was refreshing and light. The dip tasted like it was yogurt based with cucumber and something else that was crunchy.
The naan was good, but there were some parts of it that were a bit too thick and doughy for my taste. Side note – my buddy Veronica gets irritated when people call naan – “naan bread”. She says it’s the same as saying, “Pass the bread bread.” She also says not to say “chai tea” because chai means tea.
The portions were generous. L and I were so full, we ended up taking more than half of the biryani home. With three beers, one appetizer, two mains and a twenty percent tip, the bill came up to $70. That’s a wicked deal for all that deliciousness we consumed.
Before checking out Masala Bhavan, I thought I did a decent job cooking Indian food. After eating here, I realize my food isn’t nearly good as I thought it was. I was planning on preparing Indian food for an upcoming dinner party, but I think I’ll stick to what I know – Chinese hot pot.