Indian restaurants in Durban are ten a penny, but here are four establishments in this city that serve up wonderful no nonsense Indian food…
My Diners Indian restaurant chain
At the northern end of the suburb of Overport and in a lively part of town full of Indian supermarkets and grocery stores is the restaurant chain My Diners. There are others in town but the Overport branch is the one I frequented. At first glance this is a very ordinary eating establishment and you may be mistaken for thinking this is some kind of Eastern Steers but you’d be making a big mistake. This place does very brisk business and is often packed with local Indian families. I had a tremendous mutton bunny chow floating in a pool of curry gravy like some edible Tower Of Babel. I ordered a half loaf and just as well since I would have had to summon some locals to assist me if I ordered the full loaf.
A half loaf mutton bunny chow
Half time bunny carnage
HOUSE OF CURRIES
House of Curries on Florida road
This establishment, located on Florida road in the suburb of Windermere, is noted for its rotis, which are very generous. The lamb rotis here are especially good. HOC is also a great place to idle an afternoon or night away with a cold beer or four. I washed my roti down with a cold pint of Windhoek beer.
PATELS VEGETARIAN REFRESHMENT ROOM
Patels on Yusuf Dadoo street is one of the oldest restaurants in town
This eatery is perhaps the most special and legendary of my picks and is located slap bang in the heart of little India on Dr Yusuf Dadoo street. Patels was recommended to me by an elderly South African Indian gentleman whom I met at a local corner restaurant also off Dr Yusuf Dadoo street and not too far from this place. This is one of the oldest eateries in the city and has been serving the population for 85 years. Don’t be fooled by the rough hole in the wall exterior. This is the place to go for a quarter vegetable bunny chow. When I ordered mine I got a mixture of sugar beans, dhal, lentils and potato curry. It was delicious and very inexpensive. I followed this up with a R4 cup of chai and a small traditional Indian sweet treat for desert.
Classic original quarter veg bunny chow
Chai and an Indian sweet treat
MALI’S INDIAN RESTAURANT
Mali’s restaurant in Morningside
One night I decided to have dinner here in the suburb of Morningside after reading all the glowing reviews of the place on Trip Adviser. This is a more formal dining experience compared to the other three places (and I’ve got to admit I wasn’t taken by the internal decor which I found a little sterile – not that I came here for that!) but I was not disappointed by the food and the restaurant lives up to the hype.
I began my evening by ordering the infamous paper dosa. That thing is so big you could write the entire Mahabharata on it. I needed three separate plates to accommodate all the broken down fragments of this beast.
The legendary paper dosa
Next I ordered one of the restaurant’s signature Chettinad curries. I went for the lamb one accompanied with a side garlic naan, which was very good.
Chettinad lamb curry
Then for dessert I ordered the restaurant’s homemade kulfi (Indian ice cream). I’ve had kulfi before but I was very impressed with the one I tasted here which was rich and full flavoured. Very nice to savour.
OTHER INDIAN EATERIES IN THE CITY
ORIENTAL inside the Workshop mall in the centre of a town is a good place for cheap Indian food although I prefer My Diners. Nevertheless I had a decent mutton curry served with rice and salad. There are a couple of very cheap hole in the wall Indian food eateries both located on Yusuf Dadoo called AL-BARAKA and ALMASOOM TAKEAWAY & RESTAURANT; absolutely nothing to write home about but if you are watching the Rand they are two good choices. For thrill seekers the former has a rough and tumble Bukowski vibe to it and there is more chance of Jacob Zuma paying back that R250 million of taxpayers money he spent on his Nkandla homestead than bumping into another tourist.
The following places I haven’t sampled. I hear good things about LITTLE GUJERAT close to Victoria Market which does a variety of cheap vegetarian fare. For a more formal dining experience similar to Mali’s, LITTLE INDIA RESTAURANT ON MUSGRAVE gets almost equally dazzling reviews.
by Nicholas Peart
20th June 2016
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