24 July, 2013

Birthday Lunch 2013

Somewhere along the line I decided that going to Montreal for my birthday is a good tradition to have.  Great shopping, different scene and....great food.  SO I jumped through all of my hoops to find a good place and plan the important portion of the trip...the FOOD!

I knew I wanted Indian food....fabulous Indian food.  I had a couple of recommendations from people so we headed to our destination and the WORST thing on the planet happened (when you have a hungry 8 week old in the back seat...this is the WORST), we got to the place that I planned on dining and they were CLOSED on Tuesdays!  *Insert a fabulous array of cuss words here...*  We timed the feeding of the Sweet Pea so when we got there we could feed her while ordering so she could be satiated and happy while we ate our lunch.  This isn't how it turned out...at all.  Instead the Mister (yeah, this is a bad idea...don't do this EVER!) made a bottle and fed her in her car seat while I drove trying to find a different awesome Indian place to eat.  2 hours later than we had planned on eating...we were at our NEW destination, Malhi Sweets Indian Cuisine.

To say they were our "second choice" or "default" would be less than accurate...I sort of flipped a coin in the first place so, they had a 33% chance just like the other two places.  The difference was Malhi was OPEN!  I found out quickly, the advantages didn't end there...

The owner came out when I asked our waiter for recommendations from their menu.  "What is your best dish?" brings out the owner...intriguing.  We started to have a conversation about what I liked and didn't like as far as meats, consistency of sauces and flavors.  From there he was able to tell me exactly what I would love on their menu and he was going to make it for me himself.  Now that is awesome service people!!  We put in our gigantic (for two it was HUGE) order for Channa Samosa, Vegetable Pakora, Aloo Tikki, Garlic Naan, Onion Kulcha, Lamb Curry, Chicken Tikka and Basmati Rice.  I couldn't wait!  But, since there was a slight lull in the customer traffic I thought I had better take my indoor shots while I was able to.


We weren't waiting for even 5 minutes before the first round of delectable goodies made their way to our table.  That's some haste and rapidity goin' on in that kitchen!

Tamarind Sauce & Mint Chutney

Vegetable Pakora

My Mister's absolute favorite thing to have as an appetizer has become a must have for me as well whenever I eat Indian food.  There is just something comforting about a crispy, crunchy but soft on the inside pakora.  It was raining on my birthday...my favorite kind of weather (a reason to cuddle up under an umbrella and "stay in" with the one you love) so these were a welcomed beginning to what was about to be a fabulous meal.
Channa Samosa

My absolute favorite thing to eat is vegetable samosa and I've never had channa (chickpea) samosa, so I was keenly interested in trying it.  Let me tell ya!....it was some fabulous stuff.  Creamy, just the right level of spicy and quite substantial as a protein element to the appetizer as a whole.  I'll definitely be ordering Channa Samosa again. 
Aloo Tikki

Now, I am a HUGE lover of aloo tikki as well.  I don't think there is such a thing as "too much" when it comes to potatoes but I kind of felt that the channa on the aloo was a bit much.  They tasted fabulous but, when I have my aloo I am typically a minimalist.  I am sure plenty of other people would love it.  I encourage you to try it if you're ever there.  Especially if you don't order an entree...this could be a meal on its own.

I won't lie, I was already almost to the "full" mark on my tummy.  I was starving when we walked in out of the rain so, I dug in and hit these appetizers pretty hard.  It set me up to not be able to eat much of my entree.  It was on its way to the table along with our breads....

Lamb Curry

Garlic Naan
 Onion Kulcha

Basmati Rice

The first thing I did was rip off a piece of the garlic naan and dip it in my curry sauce.  It actually covered every single note of cooking that you can achieve in the kitchen; all of the sudden I decided that I had PLENTY of room in my stomach.  I grabbed some rice and spooned some lamb curry over my rice and dug in with my bread...no utensils required for this meal!

I can't quite articulate just how TENDER the lamb was in my curry.  I made it a point to ask the owner HOW in the world he did that.  No typical "gamy" smell OR taste for lamb, so I was dying to know how he did that.  He fully explained it to me but I still didn't quite understand all of his methods.  Oh well...I suppose I'll just have to schlep out to Montreal once a month for a meal.  No problem!

Now, the icing on the cake of this lunch HAD to be when the bill came.  ALL of this food, for less than 45 loonies.  Yeah...you read it.  Less than 45 bucks.  The pakora is priced by the pound, the breads were only 1.50-3.00 per order of breads, the aloo was less than 5 loonies...  Need I go on?!  Didn't think so.  I knew this before I went but honestly the information that got me to want to try Malhi out was something I read on Urbanspoon.  

A comment made by a diner on that website shocked me a bit..  "The quality of their beef has gone downhill..."   Beef??  Since WHEN do you go to an Indian place and order BEEF?  I believe they have it in house for the ignorant folks.  Indians don't typically eat beef.  It is illegal to slaughter beef in India.  Why someone would go into an Indian restaurant and order it is beyond me.  I only brought up that situation to illustrate that NO matter what someone else says about a restaurant, you really need to get out and try the place yourself.  You don't know what other people REALLY know about food...if they know anything at all.  

The other key thing to understand is...this is Punjabi food...  There are a number of different regions in India and foods vary from region to region.  Some regions of India are completely vegetarian and STILL fabulous!  This is NO different than eating bbq sauce in the United States.  Dry rubs vs. sauces, different spice levels, thick or thin sauce...  So, as I have told you time and time again...no matter what I say (good or bad) about a place, get out and pound the pavement and try these restaurants out yourself.  First hand experience is always the best; find what you love.

I loved my food, I appreciated the owners ability and willingness to make me food that I could be sure I would love and I would go back again without question.  Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your home cooking with this white gal from Minnesota!!
Malhi Sweets Indian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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