ONE of the many wonderful things about Cape Town is that no matter how long you live here, there are always new places just waiting to be discovered. Vandiar’s Indian Cuisine in Dunkley Square is one of my latest.
Owner Invin Vandiar came over to chat to me one evening at the City Bowl Market On Hope, where he trades as Durban’s Finest Curry (the mobile branch), and invited me to try his authentic Durban curries at the sit-down restaurant. Everyone from KZN will know these are elusive outside that province, and will be delighted they can be found right here in the Mother City.
Vandiar’s is a true family business, serving food made from Invin’s mom’s recipes (she lives right there on the premises too); photographs of generations of Vandiars are framed and hung against a blue wall inside, and repeated on the cover of the menu. The hands-on style at this tiny restaurant means you’re going to get a fabulous meal made with love.
The menu comprises several starters (which can also be ordered as thali – like tapas but Indian), a whole lot of curries (obviously) and even pizzas. This is because the premises came with a pizza oven and Invin decided to put it to work. They’re not a speciality but all have an Indian twist to their toppings.
Begin with some samoosas and chilli bites, maybe a brinjal fritter or two, or tandoori prawns. We powered on through to main courses. I’d asked Sexy Deborah to join me because she’s from KZN and reckoned she would be particularly appreciative of the food. I was not disappointed: she leapt right in with lamb curry, Durban style, hot AF.
I’m a sissy when it comes to burny hot food, and diners can choose mild, hot or (gasp!) extra hot for most of the curries. Discussing this with Invin, and pointing out some dishes which appealed to me (without being the total loser who can’t do anything more adventurous than butter chicken), he recommended the fish curry – yellowtail – in a rich tomatoey sauce. I even thought I could have taken it up a level, but then I tried the lamb and realised it would have been a grave mistake.
Curries are served with roti, rice or (yay!) cauli rice, and there are of course several Bunny Chows from which to choose. Besides the yumminess, prices are super reasonable. Invin’s logic is he would rather have people come several times a week than only on special occasions.
Vandiar’s Indian Cuisine is at 16 Dunkley Square, Barnett Street, Gardens, or grab something spicy to go at the market every Thursday. For more information, call 021 462 6129 or click here.
PHOTO CREDIT: BIANCA COLEMAN ©