(Images by Bukhara)
A lovely neighbourhood restaurant, Maharajah has 40 years of business on them, marking them with authenticity and great food. They are ideal for sit-down or take-away, but the ambience might make you want to stick around, with a view of the mountain, and busy Kloof Nek. Recommendation: Try the thali which is ideal for sharing, allowing you to taste a few curries.
Vintage India, Gardens
Open for quite a few years now, Vintage India has earned itself a good number of regulars for both take-aways and sit-down. Their distinctive orange cushion chairs are the first thing you notice as you walk in, integrated with a plush Indian themed decor. The menu is very versatile, with most types of curries having the option of chicken, meat or vegetarian with paneer. There’s also a bit of Chinese on the menu, and lots of Indian starters. The service from all the staff is also always welcoming and friendly. Recommendation: Papad roll and the Kolhapuri.
Bukhara, CBD, Waterfront, Grand West and Stellenbosch
They have four branches now, but the town branch is the original and an institution for those who love a good curry. Many will argue that Bukhara is the best for traditional Indian curries and all that goes with it; they certainly have consistency down, each meal being as good as the last. The town branch has been open since 1995, with its large exposed kitchen where diners can sit and watch the naans being charred in the tandoor. Recommendation: tandoori lamb chops, chicken Lababdar, tandoori mushrooms and the romali roti.
A pretty swanky Indian restaurant that serves authentic dishes from both the North and South of India. The large restaurant sits at the bottom of the Southern Sun Hotel, and has been designed to offer intimate seating, with white table clothes, and atmospheric lanterns. The menu is extensive, featuring all the Indian classics, for vegetarians and meat eaters.
Thali, City Bowl
Thali offers a totally different Indian restaurant experience to the more conventional spots around Cape Town, with the added bonus of exceptionally tasty food. The experience as a whole is more upmarket, with a contemporary, tapas-take on Indian thali. There is only one option on the menu, the tapas for two set menu, which sees four courses of Indian cuisine reinvented in chef Liam Tomlin’s esteemed culinary style. Get in early as they do not take bookings.
A Durban gem on the popular Musgrave road, Palki is built on an unwavering foundation that has mastered the skill of real Indian cooking. The chefs are Indian natives from different cities, offering their expertise on spices and indigenous flavours. The food consistently delivers sumptuous flavourful dishes, that regulars keep coming back for more of. Recommendation: chicken Tikka, mushroom Manchurian, lamb fry, lamb madras and veg biryani.
Mali’s Indian Restaurant, Morningside
Mali’s is a lovely Indian and Pakistani restaurant serving proper, authentic curries. There’s something magical about this restaurant from the moment you step in, perhaps its the warming yellow walls, but more likely it’s the fact that you can immediately tell you’ve found a proper Indian restaurant. Durban does have many, but this is one of the best. The atmosphere is sophisticated, and the dishes are all served in lovely brass bowls over tea lights. Recommendation: mushroom Munchurian and the chicken chettinad.
Jaipur Palace, Durban North
Jaipur Palace is a large upscale and traditional Indian dining room, with a dynamic space that lends itself to different special occasions and functions. They regularly host events, and their buffet menu lends itself to these big gatherings. On a regular day however, guests are invited to experience Indian fine-dining either buffet style or à la carte. Try the crackling paneer, the pokados and Murgh Jinga Jaipur curry.
The Ocean Terrace at The Oyster Box Hotel, Umhlanga
This is an institution in the Umhlanga area, one of glamorous proportions, combined with a continual holiday atmosphere all year round. Taking a seat on the Ocean Terrace means you may linger for hours, and possibly never want to leave, especially after the superb curry buffet, in which case you may be physically unable to move from your chair. The buffet is sensational, offering Indian and Durban curry classics, fresh breads and piping hot dishes from the tandoor. It is a feast of note so make sure you try a little bit of everything.
New Gate of India, Gillitts
New Gate of India serves dishes prepared in the style of North Indian cuisine. The space is unpretentious, warm and welcoming with much seating for both large and smaller groups. The menu offers an array of dishes from casual eats like bunny chow and rotis to bold lamb and seafood curries. They also have an extensive vegetarian section, and fiery treats from the tandoor.
(Image by New Gate of India)
The Raj at Montecasino
The Raj is Joburg’s answer to upmarket Indian dining, sitting alongside Montecasino’s plethora of restaurants and bars, making sure the atmosphere is always lively, and entertaining. The restaurant’s stylish interior, offers various seating arrangements to make sure tables enjoy intimacy and a unique experience. The food, prepared by Indian chefs, shows off their mastery of North Indian cooking, with traditional dishes like Tikka Masala, Vindaloo, Khorma, and Bhoona. The Raj has other branches around Joburg, see here.
Thava Indian Restaurant, Norwood
Thava’s owner, Matthew, has his roots in Kerala, situated on India’s southern coastline. His passion for his country’s cuisine, and a strong influence of his mother’s cooking and teachings, allowed him to create a menu that respectfully represented the food culture of his home town. The menu offers huge variety which includes the option to share tapas size curries. You’ll find classic curries, biryanis, tandoori dishes and masalas, along with freshly prepared breads.
Claiming to be the first Southern Indian restaurant in Johannesburg, opening their doors in 2009, Spiceburg is a well-loved restaurant that serves a huge variety of Indian classic dishes, and less familiar dishes. Their menu features cuisine specialities from across the country, with many vegan options, seafood curries, and lamb and chicken curries. The decor is simple and relaxed with a great outdoor deck for the Summer months.
Dosa Hut, Fordsburg
Dosa Hut offers a very casual, unpretentious setting in Joburg’s inner city. The restaurant caters to people looking for a quick take-away, or those looking for a more leisurely sit-down meal. The kitchen sits under a little ‘hut’ where the signature dosas stream out of, traditional Indian crispy pancakes. Also try the speciality dish, Kappa fish curry, and their delicious thali plates.
Pappadums is a cheerful little restaurant in Morning Glen Mall, serving North and South Indian dishes with a bit of Chinese and Indonesian. Their authentic dishes, served in traditional copper and brass bowls, with curries like Chettinadu chicken or lamb, prawn Madras, a variety of vegetarian options, as well as popular classics like lamb Rogan Josh. Their menu is reasonably priced, and everything is suitable for take-away.
In recent months Sun International’s newly opened Time Square has given rise to over 15 new restaurants taking Pretoria diners on a gastronomic journey all under one roof. The casino is home to Something’s Cooking by J, Guy’s Fieri’s Kitchen and Bar and now the most recent – Ashoka that promises to bring an array of spicy, traditional Indian food to the table. The space’s unpretentious interior gives it an understated elegance and it offers both inside seating and outdoor on the deck.
Pride of India, Waterkloof Heights
Founded roughly 10 years ago, Pride of India is one of Pretoria’s longest standing establishments which has, over the years been the recipient of numerous awards. Their menu is vast and features over 100 different traditional Indian dishes with an abundance of vegetarian options too. Among them, spicy masala prawns, tandoori butter chicken, lamb and veggie-based dishes you’ll find a variety of authentic curries. They offer basics like biryani and tikka masala, available in prawn, lamb, vegetable or chicken. Notable curries include a palak (saag) dish combined with a spinach and saffron flavour and coconut milk, vindaloo – a North Indian delicacy flavoured in ginger, garlic, and red chilli served with potato and Rogan Josh in a clove and masala flavour.
Geet Indian Kitchen, Brooklyn
Geet caters for those seeking an upmarket Indian dining experience with their vast menu that might come across as a bit overwhelming if all you’re after is some authentic curry and rice. The eatery is run by a daughter-and-dad duo and has been in existence for over a decade during which they claim to have been instrumental in setting the standards for Indian cuisine. They pride themselves on creating dishes based on the Indian philosophy of using natural seasonal flavours and the freshest ingredients possible, with an experimental style. Naturally, they have a selection of Indian curries – one of which is a Hyderabad curry made with tawa meat pieces marinated in curd, cream and freshly ground garam masala then topped with a sizzling tempering of red chillies and coriander laced on olive penne – something totally unique.
Spice the Indian Kitchen, Lynnwood
Situated at Lynnridge Mall, Spice The Indian Kitchen, offers delights from their tandoor oven, a selection of naan breads and a variety of basic but authentic chicken, lamb, seafood and vegetable curries. The space is quite small and has a modern Indian theme with mosaic laser-cut wooden panels and distinctive floral chairs.
Raasoie, Beach Road
Raasoie offers Indian cuisine with a view of the beach, a combination not found often. The restaurant caters to family gatherings, with a menu to suit a range of curry enthusiasts, from Kormas to Vindaloos. The restaurant has over a decade under its belt, always striving to give their customers a unique, authentic experience. Take-aways are welcomed and come at 12% off the menu price.
Royal Delhi, Richmond Hill
Royal Delhi has been open for around 20 years, serving regulars in the PE area who simply love their flavoursome, and reliably good curries. The restaurant sits in an old house with an atmosphere as warm as the curries they serve. On the menu you will find traditional items like Tandoori chicken, vegetable biryani and lamb Madras as well as a selection of their own signature curries. They also have a steak section and chicken schnitzel if someone at the table is not a fan of curry.
Durban on the Bay, Mount Croix
If you’re looking for a quick and easy curry joint, then look no further than Durban on the Bay. This low-key spot is a sort-of fast food curry joint, that offers minimal seating, maximum flavour and a to-the-point menu. Think bunny chows, rotis and a small selection of curries and biryanis.
Hungry Peter, Summerstrand
Hungry Peter is named after the chef who has been cooking here for the past 35 years. He has condensed his expertise into this lovely little Halaal take-away spot, where the food is tasty, quick and affordable. There are a few tables inside and outside if you would prefer to sit down. The menu focuses on Indian classics like chicken biryani, Rogan Josh, Tikka Masala and fresh, warm naans and rotis. Peter is passionate about his restaurant, making everything on site, and always ensuring his customers are happy.
Know of any other great Indian curry places in SA? Let us know about them in the comments section below!