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Jaipur for authentic Indian cuisine

They offer many delicately spiced dishes for those with a fragile disposition, but also offer something more tantalising in the chilli department, should your tastebuds demand.

Like many restaurants that have opened in the suburbs of Harare recently, one would be forgiven in thinking a wrong turn had been taken into someone’s home. Apart from the sign, the exterior at 117 King George Road is completely devoid of anything indicating an Indian theme, apart from a few highly decorated and glittery wall hangings depicting elephants and female goddesses, inside. The furniture and table decorations are boarding school functional and I wish the owners would just go that extra mile and give some credible thought to the décor, as ambience is a huge part of the eating out experience.

There are a variety of dishes, mostly northern Indian in origin, so it was a nice surprise to see masala dosa from the south west, on the menu. I mention this because very few Indian restaurants offer this dish unless they specifically promote southern Indian cooking. This is vegetarian heaven too, with so many delicious veggie options. One of the delights of eating Indian is the arrival of crispy poppadums at the very outset, which make this part of the meal a real ice breaker. Matched with the timely arrival of cold beers (there were three choices) adds to the culinary adventure.  Coriander, mango and spicy carrot chutneys went perfect with the crispy golden circles. The starter was a mixed platter of samoosas, deep fried aloo vada (potato dumplings), pakoda or pakoras (little potato fritters made with spicy chick pea flour) and onion rings, all delightfully crunchy and satisfactorily spiced.

The menu offered a wide variety of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, the most familiar being lamb rogan gosht, chicken korma, matter paneer, birianis and masala dosa. I made a mental note of the fish biriani for next time.  The crispy dosa made with rice flour was filled with a dry potato curry, which unfortunately lacked sufficient spices. The accompanying lentil gravy, though, was full of flavour. I was transported back to the famous Sree Krishna restaurant in Tooting, SW London. The colours of the different dishes when they arrived were a feast for the eyes. The deep dark earthy sauce of the rogan gosht looked enticingly fiery while the creamy golden yellow of the korma oozed with the promise of spicy sweetness.

I absolutely love kulfi, a pistachio and rose flavoured ice-cream and was so looking forward to it, especially as it was muggy outside. I had to physically restrain myself from showing my disappointment after being informed that only local vanilla ice-cream was available out of a choice of four desserts. I nursed my displeasure by ordering a chai (tea) hoping the gentle spices would have a calming effect. It was pleasant with cinnamon overtones but I have tasted better.

Speciality Restaurant
4 Plates
Expect to pay between US$25 and US$35
117 King George Road, Avondale.

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