Summary: an adequate Indian restaurant that is best served as a quick fix to your Indian craving
After having spent a couple of days in the metropolis of Northern Alberta known as Peace River, I was ready to come back to good ol’ Calgary and savour the sights and sounds of a big city once again. I was super-hungry getting off the flight, so the first thing I did after dropping my bags off was to head out to Pushpita, which is only a few blocks from my place. I have been eyeing this restaurant for a while now, but hadn’t had a chance to patronize it. Today was going to be the day…
I didn’t want to hang around and have the full restaurant experience, so I decided to get a couple of items to go: paneer masala ($10.99), dal ($9.99), and garlic naan ($2.50). The items weren’t over-priced, but considering Pushpita isn’t in downtown central, I was expecting the prices to be a bit lower. Their take-out lunch buffet is also $10.99, so ordering items a la carte, unfortunately, is not going to be a an everyday occurrence.
Anyways, onto the food. The paneer masala was the first item I wanted to try as paneer (Indian cottage cheese) in anything is one of my most favourite things. In this case, it was paneer cooked in a (watery) broth of bell peppers, onions, carrots, and Indian spices.
I like to taste the broth first as it’s the part that’s exploding with flavour. I was a bit surprised and disappointed with the broth: surprised ‘cause the broth was spicier than I was expecting; disappointed ‘cause it tasted like the chef threw in a much of chilli powder just to spice things up. The paneer was also a bit uneven as there were some pieces that were soft and chewy whereas other pieces were harder – odd as both varieties tasted the same. Overall, I enjoyed the dish, but I have had better.
Next up was the daal, which was a perfect dish for a cloudy day. Daal is a simple dish that consists of lentils in a simple broth mix of mustard seeds, cumin, and red chillies. It’s one of the most basic of Indian dishes that you shouldn’t, nay, can’t screw up. In retrospect, I should have had it after the paneer masala as the more complex spice mix simply overwhelmed the simpler daal. It tasted alright, but I have nothing really to add apart from that.
Where the naan in all this, you might ask? The naan served as the sponge to soak up all the spicy goodness in both dishes. Once again, the naan was nothing to write home about: although it was soft, it was also weirdly chewy. The end effect was that it felt like I was chewing on doughy naan. It was edible no doubt, but it’s nothing compared to buttery, flaky, soft naan served at more well-heeled establishments.
So, all-in-all, I wasn’t blown away by this little restaurant. I was really hoping to discover a hidden jewel, perhaps much like Canada Dosa Corner, but found instead, a mediocre restaurant that will serve as a temporary fix for my Indian craving from time to time.
The final saving grace is that they have a pretty extensive menu consisting of meat, poultry, seafood, and vegetarian dishes (that’s probably part of the reason for the mediocre food – spread too thin), so I just might get some other vegetarian options to taste. Stay tuned!