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Babur Indian Cuisine – Restaurant Review

February 27, 2011

What was I thinking when I agreed to doing Indian for dinner the other night?    On the Paleo diet, dairy, wheat and grains are a no-no.  How can one possibly enjoy an Indian meal without naan, butter chicken and basmati rice?!    Keith and I learned the hard way, but we survived. 

After parking the car we walked past not one, not two, not three, but four Indian restaurants before we stumbled upon the newly renovated Babur Indian Cuisine.   And we were on Queen Street West (not in Little India).   Leather cushioned wooden benches, chalkboard menus and exposed brick paired with floral wallpaper are not the typical design elements you would expect from an Indian restaurant.  With a little research I discovered that Babur had a makeover of sorts, care of Commute Home.   Do not let the contemporary decor make you second guess the authenticity of their menu.   They know their stuff and do it well.  

WHAT WE ORDERED:   The better question is “What didn’t we order?”   Rumour had it that portions were small which may have influenced our meal selection (10 dishes for 4 of us).   Unfortunately for Keith and I, there were only a few we could eat as most contained lentils, cream, cheese or wheat.  I took photos of almost every dish that landed in front of us, making our mouths water. But I can’t comment on all.

What we could eat:

  • Beef Masala ($13) – The beef and king prawns were served with the same sauce, and it worked well for both.  There was a sweeter undertone which may be from the tomato base (I hope).  I loved that the sauce wasn’t simply a ‘sauce’.  It was married with a medley of peppers, onions and other vegetables which gave the dish further substance.  We fought over the last few pieces of the tender beef morsels. 

Beef Marsala

  • King Prawn Masala ($19) – I get irritated when restaurants get stingy with protein in certain dishes, so I was pleased to see that Babur fills the bowl with a decent amount of prawns (if I had to guess there were at least 8).  And for the price, this should be the case.  As mentioned above, I was a fan of the sauce – a little sweet, a little tangy. 

King Prawn Masala

  • Chicken Tikka Masala ($14) – We were 75% done when we noticed the chicken tikka was missing (difficult to tell when you’re looking at 10 dishes).  Just a few minutes later it arrived at our table.  This had a creamier consistency then the masala’s above, but the waitress assured us that there was no dairy.  The bowl didn’t last long.  Clearly it was enjoyed – a nice change from the others.   Apologies for the poor quality of the photo (my hands were shaking from the rice and naan withdrawal) 🙂

Chicken Tikka Masala

What we were deprived of:

  • Garlic Naan ($10 for 2 orders) – There were 4 pieces in each order (one piece went missing while my camera was loading).  They looked so good, I wanted to cry.  I silently cursed the Paleo diet while I watched our company polish off the plate.   

Garlic Naan

  • Navrattan Biryani Rice ($11.95) –  A sizable platter came to the table which was large enough to feed three people.  This was the only dish that went home in a doggie bag – everything else was devoured.  The nice touch here was the combination of cauliflower, carrots, onions, peppers, tomatoes that were intermingled among the grains of rice.  See that piece of cauliflower on the end?  I snagged it and shook off the rice.  It was the closest I could get to this dish without cheating.

Biryani Rice

  • Saag Paneer ($13) – This might look repulsive but it’s one of my favourites.  Underneath the cooked spinach you would find delicate cubes of paneer (cheese) which make the dish.   I settled for a few bites of the spinach, trying to avoid the cheese.  The spinach alone was good but I’m sure that missing ingredient would have given it a little boost.  

Saag Paneer

  • Dhansak ($11) – This lentil dish was one of their favourites.  The consistency resembles soup more than anything which makes me wonder what their real “lentil soup” would look like.  Soupy or not, this got a gold star based on the oohs and ahhs across the table.

Dhansak

THE DAMAGE:  It came to just over $160 plus tip for four of us.  So breaking it down, that’s $40 a person including a bottle of wine.  Not bad, but more than you would dish out at one of the Indian spots down the street.  Their slick renos (and quality dishes) give them permission to charge above average prices.  In any case, it doesn’t seem to be impacting business – virtually every leather cushioned bench was occupied. 

YOU SHOULD GO IF: 

  • You don’t mind going deeper in your wallet for an authentic Indian meal.
  • A restaurant’s ambiance and decor are part of the experience for you.  
  • You have patience.  The service may have been off that night, but the food took a while to arrive and the wait staff seemed to forget about us in the latter part of the evening (waiting for the bill).   I will give them credit for the frequency of their water refills.

Babur on Urbanspoon

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. hassan oubere permalink
    October 2, 2011 8:17 pm

    the best of the best

  2. March 8, 2011 4:16 pm

    Check out this new dish review website: http://www.d1sh.com/
    I am sure you will find a new and exiting playground 🙂

  3. altaz permalink
    February 27, 2011 6:23 pm

    Good review. I’ll have to try that place out. Just a heads up but Saag is usually cooked with a little cream and Briyani usually has a yogurt base 🙂

    I usually get a chicken sag (with no cream or butter added) instead of the paneer and it works out quite well.

    If you like Indian and are willing to travel, you may also want to try Nirvana, flavours of Indian at hurontario and 401. Their Chicken Saag, Bhindi Masala (okra) and Murg Chicken (has yogurt but worth it) are all really good.

    • February 27, 2011 9:42 pm

      Thanks Altaz! I had a feeling there was something “non-Paleo” lurking in there, so I’m glad I only had a scoop. Hoping there wasn’t enough yogurt to warrant having to start this diet over AGAIN. I’ll make note of Nirvana for the next time I’m out in Mississauga.

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