Narayanni’s, owned by South African husband-and-wife team Daya and Selva Naidoo, former owners of Block 1912, offers South African-Indian food, buffet-style.
South Africa has a large Indian population, but South African-style Indian cuisine differs from North Americanized versions of curries and chutneys.
“The Indian dishes most of us are familiar with contain heavy cream or butter but in South Africa clear sauces are used more often,” explains Daya.
Chef Selva follows this lead, but don’t think a clear sauce equals a lack of flavour or richness. Selva’s homemade blend of spices give dishes like the bahja, a slightly sweet onion and spinach fritter coated in chickpea flour, plenty of interesting flavour.
When you enter the spacious room, the focal point is the circular buffet island with several dishes that change daily. But there are always vegan and gluten-free options. Prime example: the crispy papadums, thin, cracker-like concoctions made from dahl (lentil flour), best when dipped in sweet mango or fiery mint chutneys.
For a perfect marriage of flavour and colour, try the crunchy Indian wedding salad, a blend of green, yellow, red and orange peppers, cabbage and shredded cucumber, lightly kissed with a mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.
Satisfy your inner carnivore by loading up a heaping plate of chicken or lamb curry. The lamb is local, the chicken free-range and the veggies organic, when available. And the whole dish is intensely fiery and flavourful. Those who crave heat will be satisfied, but those who prefer a milder dish can add vegan yogurt sauce to tame the curry’s spice. Sop up your leftover sauce with the pan-fried roti bread, brought fresh to your table.
End your meal with some homemade Chai tea. “We make it by the cup,” says Daya. “We’re very specialized. We want to give the best to our clients.” So far, mission accomplished. (10131 81 Ave., 780-756-7112, narayannis.com)