We’re not typically curry diners, I have never learned to make curry at home, and when we do eat out we typically frequent restaurants that serve pizzas, pastas, fish, steak or burgers. A few weeks ago on a chilly evening I craved a good curry and rice like I remembered having in Durban. We ordered takeout curry from a restaurant I won’t name, I having a vegetarian option and my fiancé a lamb curry, and we were both left disappointed. This past weekend however, we both wanted something different from the regular types of food we tend to eat out, so thought we’d try again with the curry – this time we were fortunate to find Punjab Express at Westlake Lifestyle Centre.
The downplayed, but intriguing, decor accompanied by a friendly and eager to assist waitress had us feeling comfortable in no time. Facebrick walls with minimal decor – number plates with the names of Indian cities, some colourful teapots on shelving on one wall, plain wooden tables and of course, the simple chairs made interesting with their colourful designs.
Our slight embarassment at not understanding our extensive choices from the menu were eased with her recommendations being spot on! On arrival we were served poppadums with three chutneys for dipping (the pineapple is a winner). Rod opted for a mild butter chicken curry, I choose a medium black lentil curry, while little Damian had marinated chicken pieces off the starter menu. We enjoyed it with steaming basmati rice, and a naan bread on the side to share. For dessert, we thought while in India do as the Indians do, so rather than having regular ice cream, we tried their Almond and Rose Petal Kulfi, a homestyle Indian ice cream, which was light, not too sweet and pleasing on the amateur palate.
Our waitress suggested we come back for Thursday buffet night – an all-you-can-eat way to sample various curries and find your favourite. We booked reserved our place immediately, and weren’t disappointed on our next visit. Again on arrival, we were served a basket of poppadums with dipping chutneys. On your first round of the buffet, you can choose a naan bread or a roti to accompany your meal, thereafter you pay for additional naan or roti. You can however, have unlimited basmati rice with further rounds of curry.
For meat eaters, the curries on offer were Highway Chicken, Achari Lamb and Fish Malabar; while for vegetarians like myself, two buffet dishes were served: Aloo Methi Palak – a spinach, baby potato and fenugreek curry, and Punjabi Chole – a chickpea based curry. A third vegetarian option and my new favourite, Paneer Maknni was served to the table.
Included in the buffet price of R150 per person is either a glass of wine or a cold drink. And if you don’t already think that is value for money, add on the gently spiced rice pudding as dessert for an affordable and scrumptious evening out.
Apart from the outstanding service and delectable food, a highlight is the quality ingredients used. For the carnivores, the lamb is grass-fed free range and the chicken is free range. For the vegetarians, the vegetables are organic, grown on the owner’s farm, and picked by the owners. Fresh non-irritated spices, no preservatives or sugar used in their freshly made sauces. All round – ten out of ten for this restaurant from me.