Nothing warms on a wintery night quite like a bowl of curry! Personally, I’ll enjoy a curry any night of the year, no matter the weather, but when it’s snowy, -10, you’ve just taken the dog for a 90-minute walk and you can’t feel your face, and then you hear the curry you ordered being placed outside your door – that’s when a curry becomes fuel to soothe the soul.
When I say curry, your mind might go straight to butter chicken or tikka masala, and of course, I couldn’t do a curry blog without mentioning my favourite Nepalese and Indian spots, but I also want to take this opportunity to expand your curry cravings and introduce you to a fantastic Indonesian option and a new regular for me, the Vietnamese curry.
But let’s start with my pick of the bunch from the selection of Nepalese joints around town. I have been ordering from the same place for at least 2 years now. And sure, I sometimes venture elsewhere, but I always come back to Shubha Kamana.
When ordering some comfort curry for a wintery night-in my partner’s ideal dish is one with pieces of slow cooked lamb that fall apart in a rich, creamy, not too spicy, sauce. If that’s you, then Shubha Kamana’s Gadi Bhendo is a guaranteed winner, and the best in town according to my significant other. Me, on the other hand, I’ll go for a vegetarian dish, something with a little more fire, and I tend to avoid the dairy heavy dishes. I always struggle between my favourites, their tofu masala, and jhaneko dal. The masala has this deep flavour, perfectly rich with spices, while the dal is fragrant and leaves me hungry for another bowl every day for a week.
If we cross over the border to India you’ll have a hard time shutting me up about the food I devoured when I went for a 6-week working holiday back in 2014. I was mostly in the North and enjoyed home cooked meals which consisted of a wonderful dry vegetable curry, alongside a dal, with plenty of rice and fresh chapati to soak up all the amazing flavour. While no restaurant will ever match my memories of those meals, I have found a few places that make my taste buds sing.
I’ve mentioned a couple of places before in my last blog but this one is worth mentioning again Samrat Indian Cuisine. They have the classics you expect to find but also some more regional dishes, and you can even order a thali (which just translates to plate) which is a more traditional way of eating where you have a few small serves of the chef’s specialities.
I also want to give a mention here to India Tandoor for their pretty impressive vegan options. This is something that can be a bit of a struggle due to the prevalence of ghee in most Indian cooking, but they have nearly 10 completely vegan dishes on their menu and they come with vegan chapati instead of buttered naan!
Now let’s talk Vietnamese curry. This dish is a few shades lighter than your butter chicken, with aromatic lemongrass, coconut milk, spices, and stock filled with carrots, potatoes, and chicken, or another protein. This dish has recently become a regular comfort craving for me when I’m stressed.
Head over to the Saigonese for their (vegan or chicken) curry and enjoy a warming bowl of goodness that tastes like what I imagine a generous Vietnamese grandmother would bring to cheer you up. Up the road, there’s also Vibami who offer up a great version (I’ll take mine with their organic tofu option) which provides the perfect balance of fresh and fragrant while also being hearty and filling.
Finally, I want to give a shout out to Bali Brunch. Indonesian food is another holiday favourite for me, thinking of the copious plates of gado gado I have enjoyed by the beach and the street vendors selling fresh satay sticks makes my mouth water even as I type this. Yet Indonesian food is a cuisine that seems to have caught on like Thai or Vietnamese. So when I noticed Bali Brunch pop up in the K6 food court at Kamppi I was anxious to try and cautious not to get my hopes up.
I needn’t have worried, these guys are pros and their flavours are spot on! Now, full disclosure, technically you aren’t going to be ordering a curry per se but get yourself any of their ‘plates’ and you’ll be treated to a splash of their house turmeric curry. I can’t describe it. I won’t try. Just get it into your mouth as soon as you can. I had mine delivered to my door last week for lunch on a busy day, and I was quite glad I was home alone because the yummy noises I was making with every mouthful might have been distracting for other diners in a restaurant!
So next time you’ve been out in the cold and you need some food to warm your soul – or maybe you’ve been indoors too long and need to spice up your life – try a new restaurant, or a new dish, and expand your curry cravings.