"Let's get curry," E suggested the other day. But it was too late; all the Indian restaurants had closed for the afternoon and the closest thing we could get to Indian food was neon-orange food court butter chicken. We went to Momo Tea for Chinese instead, but for the next few days all I could think of was curry.
Yesterday was our chance. A spare hour at lunchtime saw us heading into Great India with growling stomachs. We obviously weren't the only ones in the mood for curry, as most of the tables were taken and we shared a large, round table with two serious-looking businessmen.
First on the agenda was a mango lassi ($4.50). I tried to save it to drink with my meal, as the smoothie-like yoghurt drink is perfect for taking the heat off a spicy curry. I was so hungry, though, that I ended up guzzling most of it as soon as it arrived.
Unlike most mango lassis, this one wasn't completely blended together. Although I mixed it up right away with my straw, the marbly effect of the syrupy mango and the tangy yoghurt was visually appealing.
We ordered off the $10 lunch menu which includes a choice of main, rice and bread. Choices included both curries and tandoori dishes, which almost tempted me out of my curry cravings... almost.
I had chicken madras with garlic naan and coconut rice. The sauce had a texture quite different from the creaminess of other curries - it was more of a puree. The South Indian influence was apparent with the use of coconut and the extra pile of coconut flakes used to garnish the dish. And I was pleasantly surprised that "medium hot" as the menu proclaimed was spot-on; I found myself trying fruitlessly to suck the last remnants of my mango lassi through the straw in an attempt to cool my mouth.
The curry had pieces of chicken breast, which I found a bit different. I usually prefer the juicier leg or thigh cuts, but this meat wasn't dry like some chicken breast can be. The coconut rice had a full, rich flavour from the coconut and caramelised onions cooked into the rice, and the serving was garlic naan was ample and chewy, perfect for dipping into curry.
E had the gehtu masala - a lamb curry with garlic naan and pulau rice. The lamb, marinated for 48 hours, was tender and meaty and full of flavour.
The curry was a spectacular bright-pinkish red colour, and judging by the sweat on E's brow, amply spiced. The pulau rice provided a nice, mild contrast to the curry, while still flavourful.
Service was excellent even though the restaurant was very busy. Attentive wait staff took our orders soon after we had decided (and not too soon, either), we didn't wait long for our food, and after our meal, as we sat dazed and satiated, a waitress arrived with a basket of hot, minted towels - "to refresh yourselves", she said.
I loved the Bombay Sapphire bottles reused as water bottles.
Great India is, well, great - for reliably good curry, excellent service, and those minted towels. While the dinner menu might be a bit more expensive than your average Indian place, the $10 lunch is great value and seems to be very popular with the Courtenay-Manners office crowd. I know I'll be back soon!
141 Manners St