The Spice of Life

I love spicy foods. Growing up in the South of the USA I had never tried Indian food, even when I moved to LA I never tried Indian food. I tried it for the first time when I was living for a few months in Brunei and Malaysia. I loved everything about it except the meat, in fact I am pretty sure I ate a curried monkey the 1st time I had Indian food, it certainly did not look or taste anything like a chicken which is what I had ordered. Luckily the monkey-ness suspicion was not confirmed nor did it put me off, I simply became a vegetarian while I was there. But the taste for Indian food was forever logged in my memory.

Years later when I immigrated to the UK I was surprised at the high number of Indian food restaurants and take aways but then I realised that it is almost part of their culture, in fact there are dishes such as the ‘Balti’ which were created in the UK. (There is some dispute over the origin as some say it originated in Northern Pakistan). Regardless of the origin, I had only ever seen a balti on the menu in the UK, at least until now.

In the UK we had a take away curry about once a week and we were lucky enough to have an excellent curry house in Barrow On Soar, the little village we lived in. When we moved back to Cape Town we tried to find a local replacement but after several instances of being disappointed in either the price or the quality of the food we stopped trying the Hout Bay curry houses. One in particular I went in to collect a take away and the dude who was doing the cooking looked like he had not had a wash of either his hands or his clothes. Ever. I would not want to sit next to him on a short train ride, much less have his nasty fingers touching my food.

Needless to say my hopes for the new Indian venue ‘Indian Oven which opened in Hout Bay recently were not that high after being disappointed so many times by other venues. But I saw several people online talking about how good their bunny chows were and when I saw the advert in our local newsletter I thought we should give it a go.

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Saturday night we went down to Red Sails Centre and saw that the place was not very busy, but this was in our favour as we did not have any delays with getting seated. We quite quickly saw why it was not so busy, there was a take away going out about every 5 minutes! Everyone else was enjoying their curry at home, but for the 1st experience we wanted to try it in situ.
We placed our orders and waited with excitement. We had a portion of complimentary poppadums to start, they were flavoured ones, cumin I think?

We started out with an order of onion bhajees as a starter to share.

Vegetable Bhajee Fritters were on the menu at R40.00 and were described as ‘Chana flour battered and fried. Your choice of cauliflower, spinach, potato, onion, chilli or aubergine.’

We seemed to wait a long time for the starter after the poppadums, we actually were wondering if it was going to arrive with the mains, but eventually it appeared. I was so hungry I forgot to snap a pic of the platter and I wanted a pic as they were prepared in an unusual way. Oops. They were more onion rings than fritters, as each onion was coated individually and fried. But they were delicious! The batter was spiced with cumin and curry and had a wee bite to it, but not so much that gringo Norm could not cope. 😀

It came with a nice sweet and spicy sauce for dipping.

It wasn’t a long wait for the mains to arrive after the starter.

I had ordered the Prawn Curry at R125.00, described as ‘Succulent prawns in a medium curry gravy’.

Norm ordered what he always orders which is Chicken Korma, this was priced at R80.00 and was described as ‘Fillet cubes in a creamy cashew nut and spicy gravy.’

We also ordered a garlic Naan as well as the Bombay Potato to share which was described as Stir Fried potatoes with cumin seeds and curry leaves which was on the menu at R55.00.

My prawns were firm and nicely cooked, the curry had such flavour, just spicy enough where you got plenty of taste but not such overwhelming chilli that it burns your lips off. Norm let me have a wee taste of his korma, it was gorgeous you could taste the coconut and it was so rich and creamy. Norm said the chicken could have been a bit more tender, but he ate every bite so it must not have been too tough!

The Naan bread was divine it was dripping in butter and really thin and crispy exactly the way I like it. The Bombay potatoes were perfectly cooked.

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We ate so much! It was just so tasty and yummy.

I’m so over the moon that this place has opened up, we will be sure to frequent them to make sure they stay open, we have such a turnover of restaurants in Hout Bay, we locals have to support them in order to keep them viable. I will do my share. With pleasure.

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