Many years ago, my brother took me to an Indian restaurant. He was in university, and this place was walking distance from his apartment. I hadn’t really had any ethnic food experiences. I was only 16.
We walked into the dingy-looking restaurant and sat down. I wasn’t sure what to expect. He ordered several dishes, and soon the steaming food came out to the table. There was butter chicken, a biryani, some aloo gobi, naan bread, and curried chick peas. I’ll never forget this meal. As I tentatively tried each dish, amazing flavours filled my mouth.
I went back to this restaurant many times while I lived in Niagara. Soon, school, work, and life took me to Toronto. Remembering my first Indian food experience, I tried restaurants in the big city – looking for that amazing flavour. The hunt was on for the best Indian food!
I went to Little India, at the recommendation of some friends. It was so tasty… but not what I remembered. I tried Babur (the one with the cute elephant on its sign), and was impressed, but it could only be a close second. I went to some very disappointing places, like Red Rose, and had some terrible eating experiences.
I kept looking, and visiting restaurants with friends. I gathered recommendations and kept looking. I tried Dhaba on King Street in Toronto. It was very delicious! I ate so much that I had a stomach ache (and eventually vomitted – my organs were being crushed by my stomach contents)! This didn’t deter me. I kept hunting. I found KAMA to be very tasty, but still not quite perfect.
I settled on Little India being the tastiest I could find in the city, but I never forgot the flavour that I first tasted in St. Catharines.
Recently, I’ve moved back to the area, and I took my girlfriend to Bansaree, the restaurant my brother took me to years ago. It looks exactly the same. The sign is still there, and as you walk in, it’s still dingy looking inside. The walls are adorned with the same artwork, and the furniture is still there from years ago. It was like walking back in time.
I ordered for us – Butter chicken (my favourite), kashmiri rice, aloo matar, regular naan, and we decided to try the kashmiri naan (which I have never seen before). The food came to the table and the old familiar smells filled my nose. This is the food I remember. It’s delicious and so flavourful. It doesn’t taste like it came from a can. It tastes like an old family recipe that has been handed down from generation to generation. There is a perfect balance of richness and flavour that just can’t be duplicated. I’m home.