Crown Grocery and Pizza

Ok, so I have to admit. I’ve been slacking on my blogging. A lot. I order from Skip The Dishes once a week, but I never blog. This busy Mom has no time. Except when the pizza is exceptional. Like the butter chicken pizza at Crown Grocery and Pizza.

I must have biked past this place many times; I know I’ve passed it over for pizza many more because I thought it was another Canadian Pizza Unlimited type joint. But hey, free delivery enticed me to look at the menu and the reviews. I’m sure glad I did. It fits my criteria. Not a chain, most likely family run, and a hole in the wall.

Back to the pizza. I’ve tried many a butter chicken pizza. This one has a nice balance of flavours. The smooth taste of cream peppered with the right amount of spice. I could eat the whole thing. I also ordered a vegetarian with extra chicken. Mostly because most works pizzas don’t have enough veg for me. They have nice deal for multiple pizzas. I got two 12″ pizzas for $25.99. The pizza wasn’t grease and it wasn’t too thin or too thick. I also wanted to try their fried chicken, but they called me and said they were out for the day. They offered to substitute samosas. The were a little over fried but the flavour was still there. I would order them again. They also have tandoori chicken pizza. I am coming back. Maybe next week.

Butter Chicken Pizza
Butter Chicken Pizza

Crown Grocery & Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Madras Cafe

I haven’t had a dosa in a long time. So when a friend of mine mentioned that Madras Cafe was having a dosa festival, I just had to go.  They had a special menu that featured 100 dosa and dosa variants.

We started off with the podli idli. Idli is a savoury rice and fermented black lentil cake that is steamed. This version was subsequently fried and mixed with spices. It had a tang of heat and the fried onions added a nice crunch. I ordered the mix vegetable dosa for my main dish. It came with a side of soup and a couple of dipping sauces. It was quite tasty. Hubby asked the server for his recommendation. Our server, who I assumed was also the owner had a thick accent that I found difficult to decipher. Hubby accepted our server’s suggestion. It was a vegetarian dosa, bursting with vegetables and flavour.

I love hole-in-the-wall family run places. This is the sort of place that I would come back to, if I found myself in the area again.

Mixed Vegatable Dosa
Mixed Vegatable Dosa
Podli Idli
Podli Idli
Dosa specials
Dosa specials
Dosa Specials
Dosa Specials

Madras Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saffron Mantra

I’ve been ordering a lot of delivery of late; the latest foray was to Saffron Mantra last month. The concept sounded intriguing; a fusion of Indian and French cuisine. We started with the tandoori chicken tikka. It had layers of complex flavours which blended together well. The taste was sweet, smokey and spicy. For my entree, I had the Himalayan lamb burger which was spicy, yet creamy with the citrus mint aioli. The dressing for the house salad tasted of Indian spices and citrus. Hubby had the chicken fritter burger. I thought about ordering the wicked ghost pepper burger for him, but thought better of it. Someday, I will visit to dine in.

Himalayan Lamb Burger with starter house salad and Sizzling Tandoori Chicken Tikka
Himalayan Lamb Burger with starter house salad and Sizzling Tandoori Chicken Tikka

Saffron Mantra on Urbanspoon

The Himalayan

We went to The Himalayan a couple of months ago, on the recommendation of a friend.  It’s hidden away in a strip mall by the Westbrook LRT station. Easy to miss. It looks like a family run operation, and a busy one at that. Seating is limited, so best to go in the off peak hours. Hubby and I went early on a Saturday for their lunch buffet.

They have a good selection of vegetarian dishes, along with some meat. Everything was extremely tasty. Some of the things I tried included: pappadam, saffron rice, dal, butter chicken, Everest lamb and chili tofu. They also had a salad bar and a few desserts. The mango pudding, fruit salad and halwa were good. They also serve naan on the side.

The service was prompt and friendly. Well worth a return visit.


Lunch buffet
Lunch buffet

The Himalayan on Urbanspoon

Tandoori Chicken Pizza

I’ve always wanted to try making pizza on the grill. I just needed an excuse to do it.  Today is the day, a beautiful bluebird 27C day and a preference not to turn on the oven.

I defrosted the leftovers from my last pizza party – one piece of dough, caramelized onions and tandoori chicken. Prep the chicken, onions, and mayo before grilling.

Tandoori Chicken

This recipe is adapted from the book Simply More Indian by Tahera Rawji. It is actually part of the butter chicken recipe, but I omitted the sauce ingredients and adapted the instructions.

2 lb boneless chicken pieces
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp tumeric
1 tbs tandoori powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbs ghee or oil
1/4 C crispy fried onions (buy at an Indian grocer)
1 C warm water

Cut the chicken into 1 inch cubes. Combine the ginger and garlic pastes, chili powder, tumeric, tandoori powder and salt. Toss this mixture with the chicken in a plastic bag and let sit for 30 minutes in the fridge.

In a large, deep, saucepan (dutch oven works well), melt the ghee over medium high heat. Add the crispy fried onions and the chicken. Saute the chicken until browned, about 5-8 minutes. Add the warm water and simmer for 15 minutes, until the chicken is tender. Let the chicken cool, and pour into a strainer to remove any excess liquid. This will make more than enough for one pizza. I suggest freezing the remainder.

Caramelized Onions

I love caramelized onions and usually double or triple the recipe to save for other uses.

Slice a large yellow onion into 1/2 inch rings. In a heavy bottomed pan, (Dutch oven is great), heat 1/4C oil suitable for high heat such as ghee or grapeseed oil.  Saute the onions on medium until they turn golden brown. This may take at least 20 minutes. Take off heat and cool.

Mango Chutney

I cheated and used some store bough Patak’s chutney. I used about 1/2 the 250 ml jar.

Curry Mayo

2 tbs plain yogurt
1 tbs mayonnaise
1 tsp curry powder, to taste

Mix all three ingredients together. The colour should be a slight tinge of yellow. Add more curry powder to taste.

Pizza Dough

Use whichever pizza dough recipe suits your fancy. I froze my dough before proofing, so I let it sit on the counter in a large zipper bag for an hour.

I stretched it out, and it was round when it hit the cookie sheet. I basted olive oil on the top and tried to pick it up and put it on the grill. Unfortunately, it stretched and turned into sort of an oval. The temp was less than 500F but I had to reduce the cooking time as it was already starting to brown. The olive oil and the grill marks make for a satisfyingly crisp crust. Next time I will just do flatbreads using the pizza crust. So good! Or maybe naan…

Back to the recipe. After the first flip, I slathered on the chutney, followed by the chicken, and then the caramelized onions. Do not put on the mayo!

I followed the instructions from The Kitchn for grilling.

After taking it off the grill and cutting for serving, top off with the curry mayo to your own taste. Delicious!

Tandoori chicken pizza on the grill
Tandoori chicken pizza on the grill
Served with curry mayo
Served with curry mayo





Vegetable Manchurian

I’ve never had Indo Chinese food until I went to a South Indian restaurant last week. It is fascinating to me; Indian food using Chinese cooking techniques.  Much of this kind of cuisine is deep fried, with gravy, like this recipe.  It tastes like Chinese food, but with undertones of Indian spices and heat.  Manchurian style is a sauce that is flavoured with soy and a spicy kick. There is also chow mein and fried rice.

I used the recipe from 365 Days of Eating Blog, but I needed to make adjustments to the recipe as the veggie balls were too watery and the gravy too thin. The original recipe called for corn flour, so I used corn meal. In hindsight, I suspected it should have been corn starch.

For the Manchurian balls

2 cups                  finely chopped cabbage
2 cups                  very finely chopped mix of carrots, cauliflower, parsley or whatever you have
4 tablespoons    corn starch
2 tablespoons    all-purpose flour (may need more if too liquid)
2 tablespoons    dark soy sauce
Dash                    chilli sauce
1/2 teaspoon     black pepper
Oil to fry

For the gravy

2 cups                   water
4 tablespoons     corn starch
1/2 cup                 chopped green onions with stalks
6-7 cloves             garlic
1 inch                    knob of ginger grated
1/2 teaspoon       red chili flakes
2-3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon           vinegar
1 tablespoon       red chili sauce
1 tablespoon       tomato ketchup
1/2 teaspoon      pepper
Dash                    sugar
1 tablespoon       oil

In a bowl mix all the ingredients to form the manchurian balls. It should be a little damp to touch and should form a ball when pressed in hand. Take a fistful and bind tightly to shape the mixture into 1 inch balls. If the mixture is too dry to bind, add an additional teaspoon of water. If the mixture falls apart, add more corn starch or flour and squeeze out some moisture as balls are made.

Heat oil in a wok and deep fry the balls on low- medium heat till they are golden brown. These balls can be eaten as a snack with a side of ketchup or sweet and sour sauce.

In another wok, heat a tablespoon of oil. Add the onions (keep aside some greens for garnish), garlic and ginger and sauté on high heat. Add the spices, sauces and water and bring to a boil. Check for salt and add as necessary as the soy sauce will also add salt to the dish.

Just before serving, take out ¼ cup of the liquid, cool slightly and dissolve the corn starch in it. Add to the gravy and bring to a boil while stirring. Heat till the gravy has a shine to it.

Then add the balls to to the gravy and garnish with the onion greens.

Serve hot with Chinese Fried Rice or steamed rice.

To make a dry manchurian, reduce the quantity of water to ¾ cup, corn flour to ½ tablespoon and then proceed as above.

Recipe inspired by 365 Days of Eating.

All the ingredients
All the ingredients

20140308_214737 (480x640)

Deep fried goodness
Deep fried goodness

20140309_184826 (640x480)

Curry Club Restaurant

In trying to satiate my new found hunger for South Indian food, I ventured out to the Curry Club Restaurant. It’s a small family run restaurant that also offers a lunch buffet, catering and delivery. Apparently they also sell their dosas, Idli batter, and Wada mix.

While we were waiting for our appetizers, we noshed on some complimentary papadam. I started off with the chicken 65. I thought it spent a little too long in the deep fryer but still tasted good. Loved the fried curry leaves!

Hubby got the samosas, three of them. I’m getting a little picky here, but some parts were over fried. The filling was delicious. It came with a side salad had a dressing tamarind along with a green sauce that was herby but I cannot discern the flavor. Coriandor and fenugreek perhaps? The taste was delightful.

We ordered naan and roti to go with our meal. The naan was light and flavorful. Not as oily as some others if you like it that way. Roti was light as well.

The lamb tandoori full of flavor. It came with a side of rice that was gratis, as we didn’t order any. Continuing with my exploration of Indo Chinese cuisine, I ordered the paneer Manchurian. Interesting combo of classic Chinese flavours (ginger, garlic, green onion and soy sauce) tempered with Indian spices and heat.

One thing they could improve on was that they did not ask for spice level, but they should. By default, its a healthy medium. My nose was running but that’s how I react.

I suspect they had a new server in training. But he double checked our order, and the chefs also brought out the food and did the quality checks. It wasn’t busy; there were only two tables. We got our food fast and hot.

Servings are huge, come with appetite.

Vegetable Samosas
Vegetable Samosas
Chicken 65
Chicken 65
Naan and Roti
Naan and Roti
Lamb Vindaloo and Paneer Manchurian
Lamb Vindaloo and Paneer Manchurian

Curry Club Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Marina Dosa & Tandoori Grill

Looking for a place to fuel our post-climbing hunger, we decided to make a trip for Indian food. I’m very familiar with East Indian food, but not so much with South Indian and Indian Chinese food. Marina Dosa & Tandoori Grill is a small restaurant in a strip mall. It seems to be family run. The maximum seating is for four as they are in booths. Good to note, in case I want to bring back all my friends. There is a counter in the back with a large menu board, presumably for ordering takeout.

Having no idea what we were ordering, a nice lady sitting at the table next to us helped us understand what we were considering. The server also came by and she was very helpful. I sort of thought that we could eat family style, but as the dishes arrived, it didn’t seem like the correct choice. We definitely splurged on the food; both of us were fascinated by all the unfamiliar dishes.

We ordered vegetarian samosa cholle to start. Imagine some beautifully fried samosas. Then smother them in a chickpea curry. Samosa cholle, and a meal in itself.

Samosa cholle
Samosa cholle

We moved onto one of the restaurant’s specialties, dosa. We ordered the Marina masala dosa, which is a South Indian crepe that is wrapped around a filling. Ours was stuffed with onion and potato, served with sides of a soup with cumin and spice undertones, coconut chutney and a spicy tomato based chutney.

Marina masala dosa
Marina masala dosa

Our next course was vegetable Manchurian, which is a Indian Chinese dish. Fried vegetable croquettes in a sweet and spicy sauce. It tasted a bit like sweet and sour sauce combined with a good dose of soy sauce and Indian spices. We ordered it medium spicy and it was. Not like in some other restaurants who treat medium spicy as mild for Canadian taste. An intriguing dish, I will have to try to make it at home.

Vegetable Manchurian
Vegetable Manchurian

We moved on with lamb kothu paratha, which is a stir fry made with eggs and chopped up paratha bread as a base. Paratha is also known as parotta. I’m more used seeing paratha as a stuffed bread on East Indian menus. It was served with a side of a yogurt based sauce. We also had a side of naan thinking the dishes would be more like East Indian style. The dishes are meals in themselves; no additional starch was needed.  Our server mentioned that the dishes could be eaten as is, or with a side of naan, roti or rice. By the end of the meal, we weren’t sure if family style was the correct way to order as we were only given one dinner plate and that was halfway through our meal. No matter, the food was delicious. The flavours are strong and bold; enticing for people with adventurous taste.

Kothu paratha with lamb
Kothu paratha with lamb

The server was very friendly and helpful. The dishes took time to come out but that is the price to pay for well prepared food.

Marina Dosa & Tandoori Grill on Urbanspoon

Safari Grill

There is a strip mall, at the corner of 28 St. SE and Memorial Dr.  It is nondescript, and full of ethnic food proprietors. A Jamaican cafe, a Middle Eastern cafe, a Filipino cafe, and Safari Grill. The mall has an interesting name, Short Pants Plaza. I’m guessing it is named after all the tropical cultures that have set up shop within.

After five hours at the climbing gym, I was ready to polish off some serious eats.  A short drive down the street brought us to the Safari Grill. Being seriously hungry, the three of us shared the Spicy Kuku Bite (chicken in tempura batter with a sweet and spicy chili sauce) and the Mboga Combo. This was a combination of vegetarian appetizers: fried cassava, samosa, round potato scallops fried in batter and fried lentil balls. It came with dipping sauces: mild green chili, hot red chili, tamarind, yogurt sauce and coconut chutney. It reminded me of the dipping sauces from Tiffin, across the street.

East African cuisine tends to feature inspiration from Indian dishes, along with a good dose of grilled meats and spice. Some of the entrees were meant to be shared at the table and some were individual. We choose the individual plates. I ordered the Afrique Mishaki, which was BBQ chicken cubes marinated in peri peri and grilled. It was served with a side of spicy corn and masala chipsi (fries). The dish as a whole was medium spicy.

The food is well done, and the portions are substantial.  The decor is very zebra, with lots of African trinkets. The service was good. I suggest going with a hearty appetite; you will not be disappointed.

Mbogo Platter and Dipping Sauces
Mbogo Platter and Dipping Sauces
Spicy Kuku Bite
Spicy Kuku Bite
Afrique Mishkaki
Afrique Chicken
Kondoo (Lamb) Chops
Kondoo (Lamb) Chops

Safari Grill on Urbanspoon

Daal Makhani

In my quest for something different, I decided to try making daal makhani. I ordered delivery the other night from Taj Curry and Pizza. Thought it was pretty good and have something to compare my cooking to. I usually cook Bengali daal, it’s a bombproof recipe. I think this one takes more time and finesse, especially when I don’t have a pressure cooker. Thank goodness for immersion blenders!

I’ve finally found a use for the urad daal that I bought a while ago. Now to find recipes for the toor daal, mung daal and chana daal. I love lentils, Indian style. Oh, and it goes really well with my sister’s pulao rice.  It tastes much better the next day.

Daal Makhani

Bengali Red Daal

Daal Makhani
Daal Makhani