I am all about food adventure, and love to explore culture through food. Having lived in Toronto for several years, I was privileged to try a lot of international cuisine. It is great to see a wider variety of food offerings moving North. Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Mexican and Indian food are more readily available than ever before. The great thing for me is that many of these cuisines naturally have plant-based options which makes it easy to go explore. Give me a good curry dish any day of the week! You may think you know all about curry, but there is a big difference between Thai, Japanese and Indian curry. There’s no doubt I love them all. So, I was super excited to go and try the new Elm Desi in Elmvale.
Located on the corner of Queen & Maria Streets, just down from the Tiny Art Shack, is Elmvale’s newest restaurant, Elm Desi. The space is brightly coloured, with turquoise walls and bright yellow accents, like it was inspired by a beautiful silk saree, welcoming a little bit of India in the heart of Elmvale. The aroma of spices toasting in the kitchen inspired me to try almost everything plant-based, a la carte. The staff are very friendly,and happy to help answer any questions you may have about their menu.
For starters, I ordered Lasooni Gobi, and the Vegetable Pakora. As you eat more Indian food, you learn their lingo, or what words mean. For example, gobi is cauliflower, aloo is potato, and chana is chickpea. The Lasooni Gobi is crispy fried cauliflower with fresh sweet chili garlic sauce, topped with sesame seeds. Now, I am not sure if it is a traditional plate, as I have not seen it on other Indian menus, but DAMN! This was finger licking good! The cauliflower was battered and fried to perfection, and when you ran out of gobi, it was hard to notcontinue enjoying the sauce with a spoon. The Vegetable Pakoras included mixed veggies mashed into a fritter and then fried and served with a pakora dipping sauce. They were tasty as well, but as you might have guessed, the Lasooni Gobi is a must!
One of the other things I love about trying international cuisine is tasting vegetables that have not been a part of my daily staple. If it wasn’t for Indian and Ethiopian curry, and Southern American gumbo, I would not have discovered delicious Okra. Elm Desi has okra cooked in chunky tomatoes and onion gravy,called Bhindi Do Pyaza. Okra has a sweet and grassy flavour that takes on more depth with longer cooking, like in this curry, as it goes from crisp and juicy to dense and creamy by using this method. It also matches well with the tomatoes and onions.
My second dish was Aloo Gobi Mutter, which is a Punjabi-style dish made with potato, cauliflower, and peas, with a typical onion-tomato gravy. Some amazing things about Indian curryare the fresh ingredients, toasting of the spices, and the flavour profile that builds over time. It certainly creates an explosion on your palate. Why not make a gravy out of tomatoes and onions, as it’s delicious?! This is a great dish to try if you are new to Indian food, as it has very familiar ingredients, it’s absolutely delicious, and the pop of those peas make it a winner in every crowd.
The Chana Masala is also plant-based, and although I didn’t get the chance to try it, I am going back for it! This is a popular menu item on every Indian menu, and is a delectable and flavourful curry, made with chickpeas in a spicy onion-tomato gravy. It’s one of my go-to meals at home, as it is quite easy to make, tastes great reheated, and can even be used over fries as a chana masala poutine! If you like poutine and Indian food, then trust me, this spin is scrumptious!
Indian food is traditionally served family style, with each dish served in its own bowl, and normally accompanied by a side of rice and naan bread. Go out with friends, or order-in and each person can choose a dish for sharing. This way, all of them to get a delicious taste of the East, Elm Desi style.
Elm Desi is located at 46 Queen Street West, and offers dine-in, take-out and delivery. 705-515-7189
They are open Tuesday and Wednesday from 3PM to 8PM, and Thursday through Sunday from 11AM to 2PM, and 4PM to 8PM. They’re closed on Mondays.