Tantalising tikka in Toti

Chicken tikka from Toti Tikka.

Chicken tikka from Toti Tikka.

Published Aug 5, 2023


Toti Tikka

Where: Caltex Toti Oasis, 462 Kingsway

Open: Daily 9.30am to 9pm

Call: 078 682 8810

Books brought me to Toti this week. The Business Editor had a whole boot load he wanted to donate to our Madiba book drive for the Denis Hurley Centre Street Lit Project. I suggested we meet for lunch to catch up properly.

And then there was the question. Where to eat? It’s not exactly a culinary hot spot.

When in doubt there’s Trip Advisor, never a great guide, but a guide nonetheless. Buried below a string of pubs and pizza joints with some dubious reviews something caught my eye. Toti Tikka. I liked the alliterative quality of the name. Relatively new, it was so low in the list because it only had four reviews, all glowing. The owner tells me it opened three years ago.

Aloo paratha

The restaurant is basically a glorified takeaway above the garage with a counter at the entrance and a few tables scattered around a working kitchen, but it has views of the sea and is comfortable. It’s been spruced up with a mural of the Taj Mahal. There’s a colourful ethnic print on another wall. The tables are covered in plastic.There is an outside deck one could sit on, but a chill wind meant we were happier inside.

The restaurant is halaal, so obviously a beer was out of the question, but I enjoyed sipping on a mango lassi (R63) as we waited for our food to arrive.

The menu covers most bases, including a range of grills over charcoal, breads and then a full range of curries from the north of India. There’s a substantial vegetarian section, and fish, chicken, lamb and prawns all feature.

Mutter paneer and lamb Karai.

With the name Toti Tikka, we had to try the chicken tikka (R71). This was a good, moist and succulent leg section, with a lovely depth of flavour. We ordered it medium and it was not overly hot. It came with what is in Durban the ubiquitous onion and carrot salad, roti and chips coated in chip spice, which were poor. They always are. I’ve never understood why chips which aren’t traditional are served when another roti would do the trick so much better. It seems like in South Africa everything has to come with chips.

We paired it with a good aloo paratha (R53), which came with a mild coriander chutney. I liked the fact that this was not greasy, as it can sometimes be.

The lamb nihari interested me ‒ the famed curry from Lucknow made with a specific type of pepper ‒ as did the Delhi chicken, a slightly stronger version of butter chicken that leaves the chicken pieces whole. There’s a lamb mince curry with potatoes, or with peas, and a chops chutney. Chicken with lemon too sounds interesting. For those wanting something a little bit different, a brains curry features.

Our waitress steered us towards the lamb Karai (R121), so named after the wok-like pot used to cook it in. It’s a tomato and ginger based curry that originates in Pakistan and north India. We asked for it to be medium. It was delicious, with meaty chunks of lamb in this wonderfully rich and deep and spicy curry. We mopped it up greedily with the leftover aloo paratha.

Also getting the thumbs up was the mutter paneer (R96), or paneer with peas. Again an interesting array of fresh spices had been used to create a distinctive flavour. I enjoyed the rest for lunch the next day.

Desserts are predictable, soji, gulab jamun and kheer, but we’d eaten too well. That Mango lassi was a pre-dessert anyway.

Food: 4

Service: 3

Ambience: 3

The Bill: R509

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