Rediscovering An Old Favourite at Daawat
Friday May 12 , 2017
My excitement for Indian food was amplified by our upcoming trip to Delhi in June. I am looking forward to experiencing all that India has to offer; the friendly people, lively market shopping, and especially the mouth-watering food. What better place to satisfy my food cravings than my favorite Indian restaurant located right down the street?
Walking into Daawat was like running into an old friend I hadn’t seen in years. Jean-Claude (my husband) and I were greeted with a cheerful smile and an aroma of warm familiar spices.
Everything felt comfortable and cozy. Wow - I really miss dining in here. Over the past few years we’ve been lazy about making the short walk and fell into a habit of ordering their delivery.
Shortly after ordering, many colorful dishes arrived quickly at our table. It was all highlighted by fresh Butter Naan and crispy Papadum with mint sauce. The air was a mix of spicy, sweet, and savory.
On this visit I wanted to try some new dishes so Owner suggested Chicken Curry, Palak Paneer (Indian cottage cheese), Dal Punjabi (lentils), Aloo Gobhi (cauliflower with potatoes), Saffron Rice, & Papadum with Hot Mint Chutney
The sauce (or in East Indian cuisine lingo “gravy”) in each dish was rich, distinct in flavor and texture, with a touch of heat. My spice level tolerance varies, but mostly lives on the lower end of the scale. If your tastes fall onto the other end of the spice scale they can accommodate those levels too.
Everything was marvellous. The cauliflower in the Aloo Gobhi was gently cooked to perfection, leaving it crisp yet flavourful. Jean-Claude decorated his plate with nice big pieces of Chicken Curry. The bright yellow Saffron Rice added a splash of color with a cheery demeanor. When I took my first bite of Papadum, legends say you could hear the crunch from across the dining room. It had the crisp texture of a chip but without the oil, it was so much fun to eat! For some extra heat, I added a bit of Mint Chutney.
I was unsure about the Palak Paneer when it arrived; it was green in color, very very green. I shouldn’t have let its color intimidate me. After my first bite, its creamy goodness with a hint of spinach and pieces of Indian cottage cheese won me over. I couldn’t get enough!
The money shot of Garlic Naan with a bite of Dal Punjabi dripping on to Jean-Claude’s hand. The messes we make to get the perfect shot. He was a good sport about it.
My favourite part of any Indian meal is the fresh baked Naan. Too good to share, Jean-Claude made the first piece of Garlic Naan disappear as it touched the table. I quickly claimed a piece before more vanished. Mmm… hot, fresh, crispy, chewy, and plenty of roasted garlic.
Garlic Naan topped with flawless buttery garlic goodness. Coconut Naan dripping with honey and sprinkled with shredded coconut.
As we filled our belly’s full of heathy happy food, there was a flurry of delivery people rushing in and out. This surprised me on a Wednesday night, but the Owner told us that it was business as usual. They are busy with all the delivery requests coming in from Skip the Dishes.- I guess we aren’t the only ones who get lazy and order delivery.
Bonus experience - After our food bellies were stuffed, the Owner invited us to the kitchen to see the magic behind making Naan bread. I watched the dough hang over the open flame and coals in the tandoor oven. Seeing the magic behind how it gets its crispy bubbles made me hungry again.
We liked the Naan so much that Jean-Claude went back the next day for more Garlic Naan. He couldn’t stay away! We enjoyed it with some Butter Chicken. For dessert we had Daawat’s Kheer rice pudding and Gulab Jamun; one of my favorite Indian desserts. Jean-Claude lovingly calls it an exotic Timbit. The sweet rich Gulab Jamun had a hint of rose water and pairs well with the light Kheer.
Daawat has been in the Old Strathcona area since 2007, this year they are celebrating a decade of success. You can find them at 10015 82 Ave. Head over for their popular buffet that features a selection of delightful vegetarian options and meat dishes. They switch up their selections but Chana Masala and Butter Chicken are a regularly highlighted. For dessert I can tell you, as a self-pronounced expert, it doesn’t matter which one you try; they are all decadent.
Pro Tip - For Instagrammable photos, ask to be seated at the front by the window. The back area is better for a romantic night out and is too dark for photos.
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