Review by Rochelle Friedman
The hardest part of my job when reviewing restaurants is all the extra hours I have to put in at the gym. And just when I thought I was back on track I received an invite to Thava Restaurant in Norwood. I live relatively close to the area and had even driven past a few times, but never dared to enter as I viewed myself as the “non-Indian-food-more-into-sushi-type”. In any case, at the harrowing thought of Steve the personal trainer (or as I’ve come to think of him, Hitler in Nikes) trying to kill me yet again (I often remind him that he has to marry me before he can actually collect on any life insurance policy), I was left with the ultimate dilemma… to Naan or not to Naan?
I took the plunge… and boy do I certainly know where my Naan is buttered! This review is definitely the ‘Confessions of an Indian Food Convertee’. I mean, if I were an Indian food, I would be a cannibal. Silence of the Naans? Silence of the [Vindaloo style] Lambs?
Or better yet, this could be my last will and testament. I could quite happily have been wrapped in a Thava Roti and laid to rest in their Tandoori oven.
The evening started off with an introduction to Mathew Abraham (owner of Thava) and Philippe Frydman (Chef). Mathew explained to us that his roots are in Kerala, India. Affectionately referred to as God’s own country, Thava represents the yearning of its Kerala born owner, and it is these origins that inspired the warm and inviting atmosphere, and not to mention the incontestable high level of service and delectable food. I was thrilled to find out that they only use the freshest local ingredients – there’s no canned coconut mix used in this restaurant!
From the depths of Mathew’s mother’s cookbook, our meal was an eclectic mix of flavours that attacked our taste buds. Meal plan was as follows:
Vegetable Patties – Assorted vegetables and herbs wrapped in potato and deep fried served with sweet yogurt (this was an explosion of flavour – it’s not often you find a restaurant that puts it all together where each element compliments the other).
The best part is that mains come in a unique Indian Tapas offering, a first for South Africa. You get to experiment so much more this way.
Masala dosa – Rice pancake filled with braised yellow potato mix drizzled with sambar sauce and coconut chutney. (At this point Philippe came to remind us that the more mess around our plates, the happier he is, as this means his job is done. All I can say is if you eat like I do – don’t wear white to Thava!)
Vegetable Korma – Assorted vegetables cooked in a cashew nut based spiced sauce with a hint of sweetness.
Lamb Vindaloo – Cubes of real lamb braised in a combination of ginger, garlic and red chilli masala and potatoes (my personal favourite).
Kasturi chicken – Thava signature dish deboned chicken simmered in a secret Kasturi spiced sauce (to be tasted).
Kerala parata – Home made bread dough layered and grilled in a little butter.
Ok. Yes. Fine. I admit it – we ate all of the above. I feel those eyes and pursed lips judging me. But you don’t know the position I was in. The food had taken over all sense of self!
Payasum – Vermicelli (those very thin noodles) simmered in condensed milk and sugar.
In case you want to tell your friends about my experience at Thava, I’ve taken it upon myself to sum it up in an ‘Elevator Pitch’ for you: “She fell in love @ starters. Got married @ Mains. Had kids @ dessert. And celebrated her golden anniversary @ coffee.”
Thava will truly take you through time via your taste buds. I would highly suggest their Saturday lunch buffets at ONLY R99.00 per person (so much value). The venue is also ideal for unique birthday parties and end of year functions.
I will be forever grateful to Thava for guiding me through my conversion process to Indian food. I had no clue as to what I was missing out on. Dhanyavad!
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