Nuts about the almond curry

Tandoori stuffed mushrooms and mixed veg pakora.

Tandoori stuffed mushrooms and mixed veg pakora.

Published Mar 24, 2024


Gate of India

Where: Shop 8, Gillitts Shopping Centre, 15 Old Main Rd, Gillitts

Open: Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 9.30pm

Call: 031 764 1517

Food writer Ingrid Shevlin dragged me out to her neck of the woods the other day. She had found an authentic North Indian restaurant that people were talking about ‒ including her curry-mad daughter and son-in-law. It had been voted by “readers” of the Facebook site, Durban Restaurants the good the bad and the nasty, as the best curry restaurant in KZN last year.

I was happy to drive to Gillitts.

Gate of India is basically where Quo used to be many years ago. The restaurant has been going for ten years or so. Our friendly hostess is the recent owner. From Delhi herself, she used to be one of its best customers because the flavours reminded her of home. Then last year she bought the restaurant. Her chefs, too, are from India.

Chicken badami and a garlic naan.

The restaurant is fairly simply decked out but is comfortable. I think the buttercup yellow walls might have unnerved Ingrid a bit, but they were bright and sunny, just like the welcome we received. Indian restaurants are perhaps not best known for their decor, but it managed to avoid the kitsch and obviously touristy touches.

It was certainly way more comfortable than the Irish pub next door where all that fake St Patrick’s Day bonhomie was busy going soggy in the rain. But then glorified karaoke and waitresses in short skirts with green tinsel bunny ears are never going to be my thing. The golden rule about such places is that the food is usually a match.

We peruse the substantial menu, which also has a number of interesting vegetarian options. In fact, we would go this route with our starters.

Lamb shank masala.

The tandoori mushrooms (R70), stuffed with cheese and potato were delicious and something a little different from the ordinary. They came with a hot chilli dipping sauce. We also enjoyed the mixed veg pakora (R54). This was a selection of veg ‒ potato, brinjals, cauliflower, courgette and paneer, coated in a spicy gram flour batter. A sort of Indian tempura if you will. We also enjoyed a good garlic naan bread.

Other options included a range of samoosas, chicken or paneer tikka, and seekh kebabs.

Flaky laccha paratha, described as the croissant of India.

Chicken, lamb, fish and prawns are available in most curry styles. There’s the Khadair with bell peppers and onions, Saagwala with spinach and garlic, and another with yellow lentils and onions. There’s a spicy vindaloo and the more South African-recognisable Madras style, along with a Jalfrezi with green peppers and onions.

Two North Indian delicacies include chicken kalamiri with pepper and cashew nut gravy, and the badami cooked in an almond sauce with cream. Ingrid chose the latter (R145) which was a beautiful dish. We mopped up this thick, rich, almost slightly sweet gravy with a lovely flaky and buttery laccha paratha (R27). Our hostess had recommended it, describing it as the croissant of India. Ingrid had asked for it mild, and although I would have upped the heat a shade, we both enjoyed it. The cubes of chicken were succulent and tender.

I opted for a lamb shank masala (R178) in a traditional tomato and onion gravy which was also very good. The shank was tender and the sauce, ordered medium, had a pleasant hit of spice to it.

Kheer and kulfi ice-cream for dessert.

There’s an Indo Chinese menu (which will make the Poet happy) as well as a selection of biryani and rice dishes from the north. Bunny chows with local style curries, and roti rolls are also available.

Desserts are never a big part of Indian cuisine. But we did try the kulfi ice-cream (R32), made with saffron and topped with dried fruit, which was delicious and silky and all the better for not being too sweet. Ingrid also enjoyed the kheer (R43), a milky rice pudding topped with fruit and nuts.

Food: 3 ½

Service: 3 ½

Ambience: 3

The Bill: R685 excl tip

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