Serving a range of traditional North and South Indian dishes, as well as a few Indo Chinese ones, Indian Summer offers a feast of flavours.
You could start off with one of the spicy soups or salads, but you’re really spoiled for choice with a range of vegetarian and meat starters. The vegetable manchurian dumplings are crisp and salty, with pops of sweet flavour once dipped in sauce. The samoosas are served piping hot, plump with silky potato or mutton fillings. Various paneer, fish, prawn and chicken dishes (including spicy sheekh kebabs) are marinated in masala or kasuri methi and baked in the tandoori clay oven.
For an authentic experience, order a variety of main dishes to share, as well as fresh breads, all prepared on site in the tandoori. This is a carb-lover’s paradise! Butter naan glistens with knobs of garlic, aloo paratha are stuffed with potato, and peshavari naan are layered with almonds, cashews and raisins. If you can’t bear to choose between them, order a bread basket filled with six varieties to share.
Main dishes include a vast array of vegetable, seafood, chicken and lamb curries in various degrees of heat – the prawn curry flavoured with freshly ground coconut, mustard, coriander and curry leaves was tasty, accompanied by cumin and coriander basmati rice. The usual vindaloo, madras, korma and jalfrezi dishes dominate the menu and side dishes are all ordered separately.
Unfortunately none of their desserts was available but the gajar halwa certainly sounds interesting: grated carrot pudding cooked in thickened milk and enriched with nuts and fresh cream. Other options include the well-known Bombay Crush and kulfi, a homemade ice cream.
A small selection of soft drinks, beer and wine, as well as traditional mango lassi.
Standoffish at first, but warms up over the course of the evening.
You go for the food, not the mood – the space is somewhat haphazard and the décor lacks finesse. On a pleasant evening, choose an outside table.
A meal shared with friends or family without the frills.
N.B: Their advertised opening times are not strictly adhered to – we only got to eat there on the third visit, as the other times they were unforeseeably closed.
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Owner and chef Anand Pacholy hails direct from India, and the food served reflects the influences he has brought with him. The restaurant is well-entrenched in the community as the go-to for an authentic North and South Indian culinary experience. And it’s easy to tell why. Before delving into the rest of the food, the chaat menu beckons with appetiser options. Traditional cart food commonly found on the streets of Mumbai has been brought to Durban’s coast on this little menu. The pani puri, a deep-fried spicy ball of unleavened bread, comes with cold mint juice that is poured into it. The hot, crunchy kick of spice with a slosh of iced mint juice is an edible manifestation of Indian (and Durban) summers: hot, spicy, steamy, contrasted with a palate-cleansing sweet and cold refresher. Other options are the Punjabi somosa (the upright version of the regular Durban-variety), and a tasty braised potato dish called the phuri bhaji. The chaats mostly average about R22 and are worth getting a sharing platter of.
For mains, the vegetarian paneer makhani and dhal makhanis are renowned. While there are certainly other local spots in Durban that serve a good dhal makhani, the ones here are unrivalled in flavor. The paneer makhani is rich without being heavy, steeped with delicate spices and aromatics, and although creamy with either cashew nut for the paneer or actual cream in the dhal version, they don’t tip into overly sweet. The balance of light sweetness underpinning savoury maintains well, whilst others prepare these sauces in a manner that can be a little cloying. Instead its robust and satisfying in a way that even meat eaters will come back for more.
Meat options boast chicken and lamb sections. The chicken tikka masala can be a little salty, but the ckicken korma or vindaloo are excellent, especially mopped up with hot butter naans. The lamb dishes are the reverential winners. Lamb rogan josh, steeped in a spiced onion gravy, is a delicious copper bowl of happiness. Prawn options with similar gravies as offered for the chicken and lamb are also available, if seafood is your hankering. The dishes are offered in mild or hot, but even at its hottest, the spice never compromises the flavor. If you are looking to set your tongue alight, a more traditional Durban curry would suit better.
The gajar halwa, a North Indian carrot dessert, made with cardamom pods, nuts, sugar and milk, is a bowl of sweet-toothed happiness. Gulab jamun served with ice cream will do the trick if you're craving something rich and sweet. Soft spongey balls of dough, steeped in a sugary syrup are perfect with ice cream. The balls are served warm, and we are back to how we started the meal, a contrast of hot and cold.
Soft drinks and house wines are available, but do give the Bombay Crush a go. A milky refresher with rose water, vermicelli and soobja seeds, it’s the perfect douser to spiced up palate.
The establishment’s move a year ago from its previous home for 12 years in Sunningdale to its new spot in Glenashley has allowed it to expand in size. The décor, while still retaining the simple and unpretentious approach of the previous spot, has upped the ante a bit. The outdoor area faces the ocean, with even a bit of a lovely view! On a balmy evening, the best spot to sit at is out on the deck, which is open and airy.
Everything is scratch-made and the menu warns that it can take up to 30 minutes to prepare a meal. On a busy night, it will take much longer. Waiters can forget to serve for a while, so order all your drinks as you sit. Fortunately, the food is worth the wait.
The kitchen’s hot clay tandoor oven is where all the breads are made, nothing is defrosted and reheated. Coal-fire cooked naans, rotis, stuffed parathas and crispy dosas bake on order and its worth just ordering a bread basket to try a bit of everything.