Heerengracht street on the Foreshore in Cape Town is home to several fast food outlets and casual restaurants. So one can be forgiven for walking past Simply India and dismissing it as another Indian Takeout. But in doing so you would have missed out on a truly unexpected gem of an experience. The simplicity of the front of the store belies the authenticity of the food and the innovative way that they have fused the traditional Indian cuisine with a Cape Town twist.
I was invited by Neelesh, the gentle soul who owns this eatery to come for a tasting of their menu. To avoid the madness of the CBD traffic I chose to go on a Saturday afternoon and was able to get parking on Heerengracht street right in front of the store. It’s really nondescript from the outside so it’s easy to miss. I’ve been there twice and both times I thought I had gone past it.
I went in expecting a kind of Takeaway but was delighted to find that care and thought had gone into the aesthetics and the result is more of a very casual Indian Restaurant. Unlike the heavy Indian décor that outfits most Indian restaurants this one feels fresh and young and personal. I particularly liked the colourful stained glass lamps hanging from the ceiling. A wooden shelf on one wall showcased some Indian decorative items along with a small selection of books that included Shantaram, Eckart Tolle and Deepak Chopra. And that was it. I was sold. Now to determine if the food lived up to the taste in reading matter. The restaurant is not big and has 3 large tables that can easily seat large families or groups. Each table is unique and colourfully treated in a different style with an Indian twist of course.
Neelesh describes his offering as Indian Street food, as a large part of his menu is devoted to Indian snacks like dhai puri, Bhel puri, bhajias, channa chaat and the like. But there is also a variety of curries other traditional foods on offer. Add to this an interesting spin on Cape Town food culture with the Tikka Naan Gatsby – a Gatsby filling wrapped up into a garlic naan and cut in 4, streetstyle! Or Masala fried fish and chips – an Indian spin on that all time classic.
We got to try some of the snacks including the Dahi Puri – A type of crisp paaper cup topped with potato, chickpea, dhania, chutney, sev, yoghurt; Pani Puri – topped with potato, chickpea, and a variety of sauces, topped with mint & coriander water; Bhel Puri – Puffed rice, onion, potato, chickpeas, dhania, lemon, peanuts & sauces; Onion Bhajia – Onions and greens fried in a spicy batter and Cheese and Corn Samoosas. I enjoyed all these. The flavours were spicy without being too hot. I especially enjoyed the bhel puri which had a tangy flavour, could be tamarind mixed in with all the spices. The bhajias were the only item which I though were a little bland compared to the others. The snacks are about R50 a portion and most have about 6 in a portion.
We also tried a vegetarian thali, which I believe is not served as a menu option anymore, but all the same curries are available individually. The thali included potato curry, chickpea curry, raita, rice, tomato and onion sambal and roti. I found the flavours a bit on the mild side and could have used some heat. I had some of the other curries when I went there 2 weeks later. The chicken curry was excellent and tasted of home. The lamb curry was tasty and the meat soft and tender. The meat used was good quality, not excessively fatty as lamb can sometimes be.
The Mango lassi which accompanied the meal was delicious, refreshing and thick. I also tried a Masala Tea and nearly squealed with pleasure when it came accompanied by a Naan Khatai which is the standard way they serve their Masala Chai. The tea had an authentic masala flavour, not the kind of chai teas that you get at coffee shops made from powder mixes, but the real deal made with real tea masala. Both the tea and the biscuit were the perfect end to our tasting meal. Curries are between R60 and R80 with just the lamb at R120.
They also have tandoori grills, bunny chows, biryani, salomies and even burgers, served with masala chips of course. Weekly specials are available and very affordable from R35.
This is a great takeout option for offices in the surrounding area and a laid back home away from home vibe when you want Indian food but don’t want to cook it yourself. Definitely qualifies as a hidden gem in the city. Where else will you get a naan khatai with your tea except at your granny’s house…….
Listed: 03 August 2017
Casual Dining, Dinner, Lunch,
Cheap | Under R100, Medium | R100 - R300,