Tuesday, January 22, 2008

bombay via eglinton


My name is Jamie and I am an Indian food addict.

Other than a menu in the family map box for the Himalaya restaurant in Windsor, I grew up with no exposure to Indian food. Dad occasionally swooned about it, but Mom never cared for curry so I suspect he had to live without it for years. I balked the first time he tried to introduce me to the cuisine, during a family trip to Toronto where I insisted everyone eat together since we had been separated all day. I suspect I was pooped from a long day of walking and wanted something familiar, which ended up being Swiss Chalet. Dad grumbled and I don't blame him.

I was open on his second attempt, during our annual session of watching the Christmas high school basketball tournament at the University of Windsor. Dad watched the games and chatted with fellow coaches from the county, while I tagged along for food. Usually we went to the long-defunct South Campus Place, where I was introduced to french onion soup in a crock. He discovered an Indian spot halfway between the U of W and downtown, the New Asian Curry House. An order of lamb and potato-stuffed naan had me hooked. Through the rest of high school, we went for regular curry fixes.

Addiction didn't take hold until a university semester in London. I quickly discovered a wide range of sauces at Sainsburys and cooked curries once a week. There was a cheap vegetarian buffet near Mornington Crescent that I often popped into - the food wasn't memorable, but it fit my student budget and provided ideas on dishes to make. Improvising dishes proved fun (curried adzuki beans anyone?), convincing my flatmates that I was a gourmet chef.

I eat Indian at least once a week. My cupboards are stuffed with spice packets and pastes, the fridge stocked with at least one bottle of Thums Up. If I don't prepare my own, I'll head out for a fix.

All of this is a preamble to January's Chowhound dinner at Bombay Masala.

***

Fish Koliwada
We started by ordering the entire appetizer menu except for soups. Nearly all items were battered, causing one diner to note how spectacularly they would photograph. My favourite was Fish Koliwada (pictured above), described as "deep fried market fish in chef's special batter." The catch of the day was salmon, a change from the pollack-based pakoras I'm used to.

Paneer Tikka
One of first mains to arrive was Paneer Tikka, giant cubes of tandoori-style cheese. It was one of the few non-meat dishes we ordered. Many of our choices were lamb-based, which proved tender and well-trimmed of fat.

Goan Fish Masala
Goan Fish Masala ("A Goan specialty traditionally cooked in coconut paste, tamarind and spices") was a table favourite. As with the earlier fish dish, this proved to be salmon.

Worries about ordering too little were groundless. I found it hard to resist nibbling long after my stomach tossed in the towel. Some ordered chai as a wind-down, which was served to us in glasses thanks to another large table. From a distance, it looked like we were drinking chocolate milk.

My fix was more than satisfied.

Bombay Masala
953 Eglinton Ave W., Toronto


Pictures taken January 4, 2008. Full set on Flickr. - JB

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