Banjara Indian Cuisine
- As soon as you step inside, your first thought will likely be that there is no possible way this place was built to be an Indian restaurant. The entrance way is virtually non-existent, and stepping through the front door immediately plunges you into the middle of the usually busy and oddly laid out dining room. At the back, a long wooden bar–the type you’d feel comfortable seeing in a Boston Pizza–eclipses the view entirely. The bar is far too big, and completely takes away from the Indian experience, and the only décor to be found is some dated Indian travel posters and a few paintings themed of elephants and palm trees. But trust me, it doesn’t matter in the slightest. You likely won’t even notice. Why? Because this place churns out some seriously outstanding Indian food that would be just as good if it was served on a picnic table in the neighbouring Christie Pits Park.
Savoury and creamy butter chicken, seasoned and spiced chicken masala, bright and soft saffron rice; all of the items you’d expect to see on an Indian menu are here. I’ve been here a few times, and my opinion is that the best way to order is to share, especially if your experience with Indian food is limited. Ordering a few samosas (meat patties) and cauliflower pakoras (chickpea battered cauliflower), and some peas pulao (flavoured basmati rice), a bowl of chicken masala (chicken with yogourt and spices), a bowl of fish curry (masala spiced-salmon) and a plate of naan bread (Tandoori-fried bread) for example, allows you to try a lot of different things, and can be more than enough to accommodate upwards of 6 people.
Now, I don’t want to just casually mention the naan bread like that. I’d be doing it a profound injustice. It is absolutely to-die-for beyond good. It is never made ahead of time; it’s made right when you order it. It’s soft, cooked perfectly, and has a slight charcoal flavour from being expertly cooked in the tandoor. I’ve stopped in before just to pick up a few pieces of naan and nothing else. If you’re there, definitely order it.
Pleasantly enough, this place is never at a loss for staff. Any evening you decide to go, you’re sure to be taken care of. One of the things–and I cant believe I’m saying this–is that this place may actually be overstaffed. I’ve gone there before and felt as if I may have been the server’s only table, despite being a packed house. It’s a true joy to experience.
I know I said that the ugly bar and awkward entrance-way don’t matter, and they don’t for me. But if you’re after more than just amazing Indian food, like say, an authentic setting and traditionally dressed staff, then you may want to keep looking; you won’t find that here. What you will find is skillfully cooked, delicious food served to you by exceptionally attentive, friendly staff.
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