Curry isn’t yellow, it’s a SAUCE. – Bombay Mahal

by Jason

There are two different types of people who eat spicy foods, The “Chiliheads” – people who use Tabasco as eye-drops and Habaneros as breath-mints and the “Part-timers” – the kind of people who are capable of eating spicy foods but suffer certain bodily repercussions of the heat experience. I fall into the second category.

I went to Bombay Mahal in Parc-ex to reassess my limits. There’s often a misconception with Indian food being really spicy and covered in a thick yellow curry sauce. WRONG. Yes, Indian food is spicy… in the sense that they use a lot of spices in their dishes and only half the time is it pertaining to a spicy-heat. Like the title says, “curry” means sauce, it’s not one thing. Just like the term douchebag, it’s is not only a Jon Gosselin or a Michael Lohan, or a Tila Tequila, but them as a breed, a people.

This place comes highly regarded, as voted top Montreal Indian restaurant by many sources as well as a slew of verbal recommendations, I had to check it out. The menu might seem a bit intimidating to the uninitiated, but with so many people in the restaurant, it’s easy to glance over at another table to check out what’s happening; I went in with a few suggested dishes in mind already.

The vegetable Pakora. A mixed vegetable fritter served with a spicy coriander dipping sauce. That sauce is HOT. I’m sure in the right context, it probably would have been able to strip paint. The fritter itself, extremely crispy and crunchy, full of deep-fried battered goodness.

Vegetable samosa with a tamarind dipping sauce. A spicy, fried potato and vegetable dumpling. Eat it slow, I learned the hard way that you don’t put something that’s fresh out of the fryer with steaming and boiling hot filling into your mouth before it has time to cool off first… for the millionth time.

I was impressed that all the dishes came all at once.

We ordered the butter chicken. Creamy and rich and one of those things with a deceiving name. Butter chicken contains no butter, like the chickpea, where it is neither chick nor pea, but unlike Chop Suey, chopped and busting with suey.

Lamb Korma. Not gamey at all as the yogurt marinade probably cuts most of it out even though the bone is still in.

Chicken Jalfraizi. Really really fragrant and a bit tangy. The chicken was a bit dry as I can imagine white meat was used, but would have probably tasted a lot better had they used dark meat.

We had a side of fried rice and naan bread. Usually I’m the type of person to put sauce on my rice but I fount myself sopping up the sauces with the bread and eating the rice on its own. They offer three different kinds of rice and naan.

We were only two people but we wanted to try a little bit of everything, so we decided to order as though we were going to have Indian again. It was needless to say that I was having Indian again the next day for lunch.

Bombay Mahal is vegetarian friendly, and even if you’re not a fan of spicy food, there are many great non-spicy alternatives for you wussies out there. This place should not be overlooked. I assume any day of the week is a busy day for these guys, because we went on a Wednesday night at 8:30pm and the place was bustling. The waiter took a while to take our order though, and when he did, it seemed like we were being rushed and was hard to get any explanation of the menu from him. We did however talk to a really nice and cordial guy behind the counter when we went to pay, I didn’t get his name but I take it he’s from England because he said “quid”… and because of his accent, duh.

Just remember to all waitstaff out there, if you’ve having a bad day, your tip at the end of your customer’s meal will definitely reflect how well you’re dealing with it, so check your attitude at the door, cos in the end it’s the customers that make or break you.

Bombay Mahal
1001 Jean-Talon Ouest
Bombay Mahal on Urbanspoon

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Mabel August 17, 2009 - 10:01 am

Everything look SOOO good! We’re back in town on Saturday… any family-oriented, clean and kid-friendly restaurants to recommend?

Jason August 17, 2009 - 11:32 am

Scores, various locations. They have an all you can eat salad bar and they’ll give your kids color in place mats and used crayons.

haiyen nguyen August 25, 2009 - 7:14 pm

hi there,
happy to read this post, it was my favourite indian…
Actually, i found another “little hole on the wall”, it’s called Varsha on Beaumont ( close by, corner parc/ Jean Talon).
They claimed to be truely south indian cuisine, but i thought kinda Srilanka, like most of indian eateries in town…
Their food are woth the trip but careful, SPICY!!! n so cheap!!!
Ask for their naan bread, you’ll thank me later, they bake the best naan ever!!!;D

Jason August 26, 2009 - 2:07 pm

Hey Haiyen
I’ve seen it, but never really paid attention to it. Maybe I’ll have to look into it the next time I’m feeling like Indian. Well that’s really subjective, because like any other cuisine, there’s always debate on authenticity. As long as it tastes good, I don’t care where it’s from!

Reeeeally? Well… we’ll see about that, I might have to take you up on your naan challenge, it’s ON!

Christopher December 7, 2009 - 3:50 am

I’ve been in this town for three months now, and had yet to say I found a really good meal. Bombay Mahal was finally it. I just discovered your blog yesterday and can’t wait to check out some of your other recommendations. You have a more mature and/or adventurous palate than myself, but I love that the focus is on eateries that real people go to. You know anything decent near Vendome metro station? Also, I’m from San Diego and after a quick glance at the menu of “Montreal’s most famous Mexican restaurant” Tres Amigos, decided it would be best to push my authentic Mexican desires off a cliff. Please tell me you know some place in this damn city with authentic Mexican!

Jason December 8, 2009 - 11:29 pm

Hey! Thanks, I’m glad you like my blog. Great to hear that you enjoyed Bombay Mahal as well! The only thing that comes to mind in the vicinity of Vendome metro is Capoli’s. The burger joint right across the street, on the second floor, upstairs from the basement deppaneur. They have really huge flat burgers; you want to order the cheeseburger and if you’re willing to push it a little bit further, order it with bacon. Their take out menu is a 8.5×11 sheet of paper folded three times with a picture of their burger that spans all three sections with a caption that says: ACTUAL SIZE!

I’m still working on the Mexian joint, I’ve been to a bunch places and have yet to be WOWWED. 3 Amigos is decent. Stay tuned.

mimi January 1, 2010 - 9:23 pm

I love Bombay Mahal!!! And they were open today which is so cool considering the whole neighbourhood is dead.
“Butter chicken contains no butter”
This confused me. Cause butter chicken does contain butter, sometimes a little, most of the time a lot. Where did you get your info?

As for Mexican, I doubt 3 Amigos is considered all that authentic. There’s Chipotle & Jalapeno in the Village which is really lovely. There’s also Le Petit Coin du Mexique on Jean Talon east that’s really authentic.

mimi January 1, 2010 - 9:24 pm

Oh and I forgot to add that I too am a big fan of your blog 🙂

Jason January 2, 2010 - 1:47 pm

I was being sarcastic because I know butter chicken contains more cream than butter. The recipe I have uses only two tablespoons of butter vs the cup and a half of yogurt .

“Authenticity” is relative to who’s cooking. Everyone has different techniques and recipes. Something “authentic” doesn’t necessarily equate to tasting good, but then again, that’s dependent on one’s tastes. 🙂

Glad you like the blog, keep reading!

mimi January 4, 2010 - 6:39 am

Haha, ok I get it 🙂
As for authentic, I was merely refering to food that would taste a lot like the food they would serve in the country of origin. I totally agree that authentic food can come from bad cooks and taste like crap, and inauthentic food can be absolutely amazing. But those 2 Mexican places are actually authentic and delicious!


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