Fresh versus tinned

3. Reviews (International)

Spicy Village, Torreblanca, Spain
Ganga, Torreblanca, Spain

Just when I was about to decry that all Indian restaurants in Spain seem to churn out pretty poor, generic curries after eating at Spicy Village, along comes a saviour in the form of Ganga.

The two curry houses are both relatively new and are vying for business in the resort of Torreblanca along the Costa del Sol. But it’s pretty obvious which one will come out on top.

Spicy Village has a great location facing the sea and although it is housed in a pretty uninspiring brick-faced building, the covered outside area has been nicely decorated with large photos of spices and impressive buildings from the Sub-continent.

The food is a let down though. The Chicken Dopiaza (€7.50) was ok-ish, with a decent amount of onions giving the sauce a sweetish taste. But it just felt so generic, like a standard sauce that would go with almost anything. Now, as most of us know, restaurants use the same base sauce for most tomato based curries, but there was a feeling here that not a lot else had been added to the base to make the Dopiaza any different any of the other curries on the menus. The way the Garlic Nan (€2.50) had been made reinforced the disappointment – this was just a standard nan with a few chunks of garlic pressed into the top. Where was the great infusion of taste these breads usually deliver?

But it was the Vegetable Madras (€7.95) where things really fell apart. Here was a bowl of base sauce and can of tinned vegetables, with those perfectly chopped cubes of carrots and all. Not acceptable, especially when Spain boasts such tasty and cheap vegetables.

Spicy Village, Paseo Maritimo Torreblanca No 110, Edif Nautico Local, Fuengirola, Spain. Tel: +34 951 50 52 77 or +34 647 12 83 65. Open: daily 1pm–midnight.

Scores on the Tandoors

Food 5.5

Décor 6

Service and friendliness 6

Atmosphere (Saturday night) 8

Value 6

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But there was complete turnaround on the visit to the spacious Ganga. The waiter looked almost bemused when asked if the chef used fresh vegetables. Of course, of course. The chef/owner, I was told, worked and even trained others in New Delhi’s famous Taj Hotel. He certainly knows how to cook, that’s for sure.

The fresh veg feast included a generous portion of Palak Paneer (€5.50) and a delicious Paneer Jalfrezi (€6.95), and although it might be a bit saucy for some Jalfrezi purists, it had plenty of fresh tomatoes, onions and peppers in a smooth base that verged on the creamy but delivered a nice kick. Made on site, the paneer is soft with a slight bite to it, but it has none of the rubberiness you can get from some pre-bought cheese. It’s among the best I’ve ever had anywhere in the world. And fresh was the order of the day with the Aloo Gobi (€5) with nice chunks of perfectly cooked potato (amazing how many places can get this wrong) and florets of cauliflower coated in a dryish sauce.

Paneer Jalfrezi (left) and Aloo Gobi, with a tomato and onion salad and a nan bread (Ganga)

Paneer Jalfrezi (left) and Aloo Gobi, with a Tomato and Onion Salad and a nan bread (Ganga)

And just to show it’s not only veg that is cooked so well, the Chicken Tikka Masala (€8) was spot on. You know the chef’s got this classic right when you end up scraping the dish at the end of the meal even though you are full to the brim already.

The table was finished off with a large serving of Pilau rice (€2.75), a Cheese, Onion and Chilli Nan (€3.50) and my new favourite accompaniment, an Onion and Tomato Salad (€2). I find the freshness of the salad cuts through the spiciness of the curries beautifully, acting like a mid-meal and setting me up for the next dish. And you’ll want plenty more dishes at Ganga, that’s for sure.

Ganga, Plaza de Torreblana, 7 (Av Torreblanca), Torreblanca 29640, Fuengirola, Spain. Tel: +34 952 661 749 or +34 652 240 902. Open: 6pm–midnight (later in season).

Scores on the Tandoors

Food 9

Décor 9

Service and friendliness 8.5

Atmosphere (early Sunday night) 6

Value 9

The real Indian deal

3. Reviews (International)

Masala Korma, Fuengirola, Spain

The Chicken Dhansak (€7) I ordered was described on the menu as a ‘real Indian dish’ and indeed the food in Masala Korma is certainly real Indian food – spicy, meaty and the sauces a nice thick, but not too dry consistency. The Chicken Dopiaza (€7) had a touch of Jalfrezi about it but plenty of onions in the creamyish sauce, and I’m certainly not complaining about a bit of green pepper and tomatoes and well.

There was a decent portion of mushroom rice (€3) and although the Bombay Aloo (€5) was a bit pricey for a side dish it did the job. You can never go far wrong with this popular side dish, because again, as the menu states it’s ‘simply new potatoes cooked with onion spices and tomato’. Tasty though.

The helpful waiter took me through the interesting specials and it looks like the chef has been having some fun experimenting. As well as a section of Goan specialities (although not all those listed are actually Goan dishes) there is Chicken Manchurian (€9.75), which I was assured is indeed what it appears – a cross between Indian and Chinese dishes.

Then there is Mliyana (€7 for chicken, €8.25 for lamb) a dish cooked with red wine, pineapple, apple cream and coconut sauce), certainly one of the more unusual dishes I’ve ever seen on a curry menu. There are also a couple of interesting mixtures such as Chicken Cheese Tikka (€7) and Mushroom Madras (€7.50) a mix of your choice of meat with the vegetable in the hot sauce.

Masala Korma, C/ Lamo de Espinsosa, 3 Fuengirola, Spain. Tel: +34 (0)952 665 455.. Open: daily 6pm–late (plus Sat–Sun 1pm–4pm).

£1 = approx €1.15 and $1 = approx €0.75 at the time of the visit. 

The scores on the tandoors

Food 7⃣

Décor 6⃣

Value 7⃣

Atmosphere (late Monday) 5⃣

Service and friendliness 8⃣

More than fish

3. Reviews (International)

Nawab, Fuengirola, Spain

You’ll find Nawab up Fuengirola’s fish alley, a buzzing area that’s popular among tourists for its wide range of restaurants serving all types of things that used to swim around.

There’s fish, of course – nearly all dishes offer a variation using prawns or king prawns, while a few offer fish. However, when in fish alley each chicken and lamb, that’s what I say.

All the dishes – Chicken Rogan Josh (€8), Lamb Dopiaza (€8.50) and Chicken Biryani (€9.50) and pilau rice (€2.50) all lived up to expectations, but fish alley is about sitting, chatting and soaking up the atmosphere. There’s a great buzz here in season as tourists splash out their euros while spilling out of the numerous restaurants and bars into the alleyway. Not your traditional Indian restaurant experience but certainly one to enjoy.

£1 = approx €1.15 and $1 = approx €0.75 at the time of the visit.

Shaafis, C/. Moncayo, 12, Local 1-B, Edf. Perilla, 29640 Fuengirola, Spain. Tel: +34 (0)951 291 987. Open: daily from 5pm–1am.

Scores on the tandoors

Food 7⃣

Decor 6⃣

Value 7⃣

Service and friendliness 8⃣

Atmosphere 9⃣

When the football is over

3. Reviews (International)

Shaafis, Fuengirola, Spain (TA)

Shaafis is the sister restaurant to the Old London Pub, one of the many Brit pubs that line the seafront of Fuengirola for the tourists. Which, of course, makes it an ideal choice for a takeaway after watching football with a couple of pints of San Miguel.

My order was taken in the pub by one of the staff, taken over the restaurant (it’s at the back across the alleyway) then the food delivered to me by a friendly member of staff while I was still at the bar. The Chicken Tikka Biryani (R11.75 but 10% off for takeaways) is served with a vegetable curry and is enough for two meals for most people. What was left certainly went down well the next day.

And for those of you who read the Great Lime Pickle Swindle I am delighted to report that my request for lime pickle this time brought not only lime pickle but also pots mango chutney, onion salad, mint sauce and two popadums – all complimentary.

There is a wide range of all the favourite dishes with starters such as Seekh Kebab at €5.95, mains such as Chicken Rogan and Butter Chicken at €8.50, pilau rice at €2.95 and nan bread €2.50. It’s also worth noting that from 7pm–9pm every day you can get Chicken Jalfriezi/Tikka Masala/Bhona/Curry/Madra with rice or nan for €8.95 or add a starter (choice of Onion Bhaji, Mix Pakora or Chana Puri) for €2 more.

£1 = approx €1.15 and $1 = approx €0.75 at the time of the visit

Shaafis, C/. Castillo, 12 – 29640 Fuengirola, Spain. Tel: +3? (0)952 469 565. Open: daily from 7pm–1am.

Scores on the tandoors

Food 6⃣

Service and friendliness 8⃣

Value 8⃣

Where buggies fear to go

3. Reviews (International)

Bombay, Benidorm, Spain

Cheesy weekends away should always include a cheeky curry. Bombay is not too far from the hotel where the Benidorm TV show is filmed. It’s not quite cheesy enough to appear in that but it’s certainly an eclectic place with a glass food counter circling round the top end of the restaurant and a random collection of photos, fake vine leaves and various other nick-nacks to keep you amused while you wait for your food.

It’s not suitable for about 70 per cent of Benidorm visitors as it’s a located on a steepish hill. I’m not sure many of the buggies zipping the old people around the town would have enough oomph to get up there but it would be funny watching them try.

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Fish pakoras, made with haddock

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Vegetable Jalfrazi (l) and Chicken Chillie Garlic

The Fish Pakoras (€3.60) were tasty and made a nice change while the Vegetable Jalfrazi and Chicken Chillie Garlic (both €7) were nice enough, although the sauces were a bit too similar for my liking. The waiters were nice enough but they were a bit naughty in not telling us we could have had a starter, chicken curry dish and rice/chips/nan for €7.95, a deal where we could have got more food and paid less.

Bombay, C/. Londres, 4. Rincon de Loix, Benidorm, Spain. Tel: +34 966 446 218. Open: daily 2pm–4am.

Scores on the tandoors

Food 6⃣

Decor 3⃣

Value  6⃣

Atmosphere (Saturday night) 5⃣

Service and friendliness  6⃣


The great lime pickle swindle

3. Reviews (International)

Salina’s Balti House, Fuengirola, Spain

When it comes to curries and curry restaurants I’m a pretty tolerant diner. So when I visited Salina’s Balti House, newly opened in Fuengirola and self-proclaimed specialists in Birmingham Baltis I could forgive the fact that the tout attracting us in showed  an extensive list of dishes that fell under the €7.95 Mon to Thur special (any balti with rice or nan) only for the waiter to trim it down to a handful of dishes once we’d sat down. I could forgive that the guy who does the draught beer must have forgotten to put the gas on it was that flat. I could even forgive that the bottled beer replacements were hotter than the curry so we had to drink them with ice in the glasses.

Because the food was rather good and there were decent sized portions.

What I can’t accept is being dismissed with the flick of a hand by a member of staff and told to “go away” when I raised a perfectly acceptable query about being whacked with €2.80 on the bill for a spoonful of lime pickle. That, for the mathematicians out there is a staggering 35 per cent of the cost of the meal itself. Imagine if a hamburger seller or hot dog seller did the same when your squirted ketchup on your food?

I’ve long been baffled by Indian restaurants charging for what is no more than a condiment. Regular readers of this blog will know I refer to it as the Lime Pickle tax. To be charged €2.80 is an insult. To be dismissed rudely by a member of staff for daring to query it is a disgrace.

Salina’s Balti House, C/ Moncallo, 37, Fuengirola, Spain. Tel: +34 602 014 893. Open: daily noon–3.30pm, 6pm–late.

Scores on the tandoors

Food 7⃣

Decor 5⃣

Value (if you get the special and don’t order lime pickle obviously) 7⃣

Atmosphere (Wednesday night) 6⃣

Service and friendliness 1⃣


There be large chickens

3. Reviews (International)

Chicken Tikka Palace, Durban, South Africa

IMG_1720

I’m not sure what they feed the chickens in South Africa but they certainly enjoy it because they are huge! My snack order (the Pakistani staff had the cricket on and I fancied watching it with a bit of tandoori) was a quarter Chicken Tikka (R30) but when it arrived I had a double take at the size. Snack indeed. I tucked into the meat, which comes with chips and salad and added a Butter Nan (R4) and a Coke (Chicken Tikka Palace is Muslim run so no alcohol is served).

The meat was deeply marinated, the edges were nicely seared black as they should be, and extra sauce coated the meat. The chips and bread smothered in butter just added to the mouth-watering experience.

This is not the fanciest of places (let’s just say it’s not first date material) and late at night the beachfront is not the most salubrious area but for quality, value food and a friendly welcome, you’ll have to search far and wide.

IMG_1717

* £1 = approx R15 at the time of visit.

Chicken Tikka Palace, Shop No 4, Blemont Arcade, 5 Weat Street, Durban, South Africa. Tel: +27 (0) 31 337 9460.

Scores on the tandoors

Food 8⃣

Decor 4⃣

Value 9⃣

Atmosphere (Saturday night) 4⃣

Service and friendliness 8⃣


Costa curry

3. Reviews (International)

Papadum, Riviera del Sol, Spain

You deserve a good curry if you can find Papadum. People who regularly visit this small Spanish resort are likely to go years without knowing Centro Commercial even exists. Up a steepish hill, but only a 10-minute walk from the main centre, this small cluster of bars, restaurants and shops serves the many ex-pats who can do without the walk up and down for beers and food.

The restaurant is neat, tidy and modern but has a slightly empty feeling  which was not helped by the lack of music. Who would have thought you’d ever miss that piped Indian music, eh? Once the bulk of customers had left, though, this was the first time I have ever heard football commentary broadcast in a curry house (Europa Cup Final between Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao).

The Tandoori Chicken Salad (€5.50) was something new. Slices of cold, marinated chicken on top of a crunchy salad of lettuce, onion and tomato that had been smothered in a spicy chaat masala sauce. Fresh and delicious.

I plumped for a rare forage into the vegetable mains and the Vegetable Jhal Fraize (€6) was just right, thick with sauce and a variety of veg and spicy to the core. It’s a shame a lot of us overlook veg so often as they really do absorb Indian spices so well. Add a generous portion of pilau rice (€3) – the waiter was honest enough to say they used tinned mushrooms in the mushroom pilau, which was the first rice choice – and a Lamb Bhuna (€9), coated in thick tasty sauce oozing with the meat’s sweetness for a decent Costa curry.

Papadum, Calle Acuario, Centro Comercial Las Terrazas de Miraflores Golf Local No 11, Riveria del Sol, Mijas Costa, Spain. Tel: +34 951 273 032. Open:5.30pm–late.

Papadum snapshot

Food ① ② ③

Decor ① ② ③

Value ① ② ③

Atmosphere (Wednesday night) ① ②

Service and friendliness ① ② ③ ④


Indians not cowboys

3. Reviews (International)

Little India, Calahonda, Spain

Run by friendly Punjabi Sikhs, Little India has a reputation for being one of the best Indians in this popular coastal area which attracts a lot of ex-pats and tourists who often go looking for a spice fix when it’s time to take a break from the beach and the umpteen bars.

Based along a road that is more commonly known as The Strip, which offers a plentiful supply of restaurants and bars, it uses the catchy slogan, ‘You’ve tried the cowboys, now try the Indians.’

One Brit, who’s been in Spain 14 years and run an Indian restaurant here himself, declares this a ‘seriously decent curry,’ and this in an area where he tells me ‘most curry houses aren’t really worth bothering with.’

 

Bold colours and intricate carving work give Little India a striking look

The décor is striking and distinctive, with orange plates, bright, large, red (and comfortable) chairs and plenty of intricately carved arches. The bar, in particular, is worth checking out, for this alone.

Popadums were complimentary, while top of the dishes on the table was the tasty Chicken Patiala (€9; although note that seven per cent tax is added to the bill at the end), served in a large earthenware pot. The Lamb Madras (€9) also got the thumbs up, not only because it was ‘as hot as it should be’ but also because there was a decent amount of lamb despite fears of a small serving because of the cost of the meat in Spain.

A decent, if pricey, Bombay Aloo (€6), a generous double serving of Pulao Rice (€2.50 per serving), and tangy lime pickle (complimentary) completed a decent curry night. Only the Roti (€2), which was more like a half-leavened nan, fell short of the mark.

Little India, Conj. Buena Vista L-21/22, Avenida de España, Calahonda. Tel: +34 (0)952 93 18 29. Open: daily from 4pm.

Little India snapshot

Food ① ② ③

Decor ① ② ③ ④

Value ① ② ③

Atmosphere (late on Monday night, out of season) ① ②

Service and friendliness ① ② ③

Hot décor

3. Reviews (International)

Maharani, Calahonda, Spain

This small but beautifully decorated Indian came highly recommended by locals. Run by an Iraqi guy who used to import spices for the other curry restaurants but decided he could do better, the exterior has beautiful wooden laticework, while the interior has a fantastically electic collection of lights, wall fittings and other objects. A trip to the toilets up the spiral staircase gives a great birds’-eye view of this little gem of a place.

The days when this place was overflowing at the seams with reps and sun-seekers thanks to the timeshare business has passed but it remains popular. It’s cosy inside for winter but has plenty of room outside for table in the summer.

The menu is a bit limited, although all the classic options are there. There are only six choices for appetisers but the Mixed Appetisers (€9) are a good option with onion, brinjal and cauliflower bhajees, chicken tikka and lamb seekh kebab piled up.

Quite unusually the super hot Phall (chicken €8.50, lamb €10, prawn €11.50) is actually listed on the menu (and not left to request only) so the chicken version was ordered to raised eyebrows from the owner along with its ‘junior’ cousin, Chicken Vindaloo (€8.50). They lived up to their expectations on the heat front but both had a slight rawness to the taste as if the spices neeeded frying off a bit more.

The Chicken Tikka Masala (€9.50) was tasty, although strictly for those who like it very buttery and the meal topped off with Pilau Rice (€4) and Butter Nan (€2.75), and all washed down with ice-cold draught beers.

Maharani, Ctra. Nac. 340, Urb Dona Lola, Calahonda. Tel: +34 (0)952 93 10 53. Open: daily from 6pm to midnight.

Maharani snapshot

Food ① ②

Decor ① ② ③ ④ ⑤

Value ① ② ③

Atmosphere (late on Monday night, out of season) ① ② ③

Service and friendliness ① ② ③ ④