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A Mmm-marriage of Spice

India Curry House is wheat free by design

India Curry House is wheat free by design

On a Saturday night, I met my favourite wheat intolerant at the entrance to the Pacific Transfer building, a stone’s throw from Wharf Street. This classy girl of South Indian descent has been a close friend for years, and I have been the lucky recipient of her family’s cooking on many occasions, both here in Canada and in the lush and green state of Kerala. This is all to say that the India Curry House had a lot to live up to.

Crispy pappadums (made from chickpea or lentil flour and speckled with cumin) were placed on the table shortly after our arrival in the brightly coloured eclectic dining room. Speckled with toasted cumin and still warm, we crackled away while taking in the extensive drink and dinner menus. Although alcohol isn’t the most authentic drink to accompany Indian food, I did note that there are quite a few aperitifs and highballs to choose among.

A few wine selections are offered by the glass and half litre. Most bottles range from $28 for a Yellow Tail Shiraz to a $42 bottle of Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay. I opted for a glass of Calona Cabernet Shiraz ($8, $16, $28) over my usual cup of chai ($3) due to a particularly rough week. I must admit the flavour of the wine was uneventful, taking an appropriate back seat to the spice splendor about to be before me.

For first course, we chose the Rasa Vada ($7), three wondrously savoury lentil doughnuts dipped in rasam, a soup comprised of a tamarind juice base with tomato, coriander, chili and black pepper. The spices in the rasam were especially fresh and fragrant and the soft vada rings were the perfect consistency.

When it came to choosing the main course, dosa was the obvious choice. Dosa is a South Indian crepe-like structure made from lentil and rice flour and served with sambar, a vegetable soup or broth also tamarind based, and coconut chutney. I chose the Methi Dosa ($9), dosa with fenugreek greens and seeds in the dough (only served on weekends). The simple elegance of the fenugreek and dosa suited my smaller appetite of the evening, although I will admit I was coveting my companion’s Masala Dosa ($10) with smooth velvety and spicy potato stuffed between folds of crispy dosa.

Other options include the Mysore Dosa ($9) with red chili chutney, Mysore Masala Dosa ($10) with red chili chutney and spicy potato stuffing, and Set Dosa ($10) two dosas with vegetable korma, vegetables chickpea flour and spice battered and deep-fried.

If you are a butter chicken or palak paneer devotee when it comes to Indian food, you will still remain in good hands at India Curry House. From chicken to lamb, goat and fish, you will find most mains averaging at about $16. And naan bread, for the wheat inclined, comes hot from the tandoori oven for $3.

For dessert, we shared a three scoop of Kulfi ($5), homemade pistachio ice cream with roasted almonds. I’m not sure when I last had ice cream, especially in the last cold throngs of winter, but it was without a doubt the perfect end to the meal. Nutty, slightly sweet and definitely creamy, the quality of ingredients was evidently the first thought in production.

At India Curry House I can assure you that you will arrive like family and leave like a king. From greeting to last plate, the service is definitely friendly and informal. The ambiance is a Bollywood clash of glass panel, festival light and colour. The value for dollar, acknowledging not only the price but also the time it takes to slow cook broths that result in such beautiful flavour, is above bar. With a South Indian menu selection, you can easily spend less than $50 for a dinner for two and feel as if you’ve dined with the royals.

An evening at India Curry House brought me back to the kitchens of Kerala, where lentil and coconut married fresh spice, and not a trace of wheat was to be seen. I recommend you take your favourite wheat intolerant there very soon. M

India Curry House506 Fort StreetMon - Sat 11am-2:30pm, 5pm -