Nfld. & Labrador

Getting curried away: Where to eat Indian food in St. John's

Within the past five years, writes Gabby Peyton, St. John's has been getting dahled up with a flurry of new Indian restaurants, groceries and catering services.
The falafel, right, at NJ’s Kitchen is one of the most popular dishes, served with aloo puri on the left. (Gabby Peyton)

Indian food is relatively new to the dining scene here in St. John's.

One of the first Indian restaurants, Curry House, didn't appear on Water Street until the early 1980s and since the early 1990s, samosa-offering staples like India Gate and Taj Mahal Restaurant (which closed its doors in 2014) were really the only games in town.

But within the past five years St. John's has been getting dahled up with a flurry of new Indian restaurants, groceries and catering services. In addition to traditional offerings like butter chicken and lamb korma, modern Newfoundland adaptations like the cod praco and chicken tikka wrap are popping up on menus across the city.

Here is where to eat Indian food in the St. John's area.

India Gate

The weekday lunch buffet at this Duckworth Street restaurant is an institution.

Since the early '90s, lunch-hour eaters have been banging down the door of Indian Gate for a buffet spread of curries, kormas and pakoras and they keep swinging long into the evening for takeout pickups. After a 14-month closure due to an electrical fire, owners Nickie and Daviner Sood reopened in 2017 with a redesigned dining room featuring modern black and white wall decor and the same old favourites like chana masala ($14.95) and tandoori oven-cooked chicken tikka ($21.95).

206 Duckworth St.

Lunch Wednesday to Friday 11:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. 

Dinner is seven days a week 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. 

India Gate is located on Duckworth Street, in the heart of downtown St. John's. (Gabby Peyton)

Fatima's Indian Food 

Speaking of institutions, Fatima Khan's market stall has been cooking up savoury dishes at the St. John's Farmers' Market since 2008. Fatima's Indian Food serves up meat or veggie combos with rice and naan and traditional desserts like kulfi (an Indian ice cream treat flavoured with cardamom, saffron or pistachio) but also makes a point to incorporate Newfoundland ingredients to her dishes like fried cod. 

St. John's Farmers Market, 245 Freshwater Rd.

Saturdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sundays 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Shalimar Restaurant 

A few doors down from India Gate, Shalimar Restaurant has been serving South Asian cuisine for a decade. Owners Imran Dar and wife Anila first started a catering business from their home and opened their Duckworth Street doors in 2009. Four years later, they took over the convenience store at 137 Forest Rd. and turned it into Shalimar Convenience, which sells everything from cans of Pepsi to long grain basmati, Indian grocery staples along with meals to go like butter chicken platters ($16) and samosas ($5.95) are sold at both locations. 

272 Duckworth St.

Monday 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Tuesday to Thursday noon to 8 p.m

Friday noon to 9 p.m.

Saturday 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Closed Sundays

At Shalimar’s main location on Duckworth Street serves up dishes like zera rice, beef curry and chickpea curry. (Shalimar Restaurant Facebook page)

Desi Meal 

Shaheen Fatima opened her restaurant and grocery store on Thanksgiving day in 2015 and has been serving up Indian and Pakistani dishes ever since.

In addition to having a daily lunch buffet filled with delicious curries and dessert, dinner is a pile of plate options like beef korma plate ($9.99) or veggie bhuji plate ($8.99) all served with daal, rice and naan. On the grocery side, Fatima brings in dried goods, assorted baklava, Indian snacks and rice from import shops in Toronto, but also sells a variety of harder-to-get halal meats, including goat and lamb. 

27 Elizabeth Ave.

Monday to Friday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

Saturday and Sunday 12:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Desi Meal owner Shaheen Fatima chats with customers at her restaurant, buffet and market on Elizabeth Avenue. (Gabby Peyton)

 NJ's Kitchen 

It's all in a name, and all in the family.

At NJ's Kitchen, the business stands for the owners' names — Jamil Hossain and wife Shahina Nipa — who are both chefs. The Bangladeshi couple opened their Churchill Square restaurant in 2016 where Papa's Pier 17 used to reside. They serve customers favourites like butter chicken and lamb korma consistently on the daily buffet ($19.99), but the pair has been known to experiment with different international dishes on the buffet line from Mexican to Middle Eastern fare. NJ's Kitchen is the only restaurant in the province offering Indian brunch on Saturdays and Sundays featuring dishes like breakfast chaat ($9.99) served with veggies and chutneys and masala omelette ($13.99) with a side of seasoned potatoes.

15 Rowan St.

Open daily 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

The buffet line at NJ's Kitchen is filled with customer favourites like butter chicken and lamb korma. (Gabby Peyton)

Taste East

Taste truly is at the forefront at this variety market, which sells not only Indian ready-to-eat snacks and halal meats but also Pakistani masalas and Bangladeshi frozen fish like ilish (the country's national fish) from their two St. John's locations. In addition to the myriad Middle Eastern and South Asian ingredients, their New Gower Street location offers takeout meals like lamb curry ($7.99), biryani ($7.96) or tandoori chicken ($5.50) and are occasionally available on Skip the Dishes for at-home delivery. 

205 New Gower St.

Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Closed Monday and Tuesday

62-A Allandale Rd.

Monday to Thursday noon to 7 p.m.

Friday to Sunday noon to 8 p.m.

Taste of India

This catering company shows you don't have to have a brick-and-mortar restaurant to create a buzz about fantastic fare.

Prem and Sangeeta Nijhawan started serving up North Indian cuisine in 2016 out of the rented commercial kitchen in the Easter Seals building. Now Taste of India offers weekly take-home meals bookable through their Facebook page — $20 will get you a three-course meal that might include a samosa with tamarind chutney appetizer, masala bhindi (okra fried with garam masala) basmati jeera rice and kachumber salad, and gulab jamun (a traditional Indian dessert consisting of fried balls made of milk powder soaked in rose-scented syrup) to finish. The dining-in duo also offer cooking lessons so you can make roti with the best for them, or Taste of India can cater a 10-person dinner at your house. 

Easter Seals, 206 Mount Scio Rd.

See Taste of India Facebook page for ordering information

This is a sampling of Taste of India's three-course meal offerings. (Taste of India Facebook page)

Curry Delight 

What started as a market stall has now become the delight of Mount Pearl.

Curry Delight — owned by husband and wife duo Nasir Muhammad and Afiya Altaf — began serving Pakistani/Indian dishes at the St. John's Farmers' Market in 2017 and quickly rallied a loyal following of market eaters. Less than two years later, they added a permanent restaurant in Mount Pearl to their roster, all while maintaining full-time jobs and raising two kids. While their market stall is still going strong serving up meat plates ($12.99) or veggie plates ($9.99) piled high with curries, rice and naan every weekend, their new spot has at least 10 curry options at any given time, housed where Chilly Willy's once doled out pizza slices by the dozen.

125 Park Ave.

Tuesday to Friday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Saturday 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

St. John's Farmers' Market, 245 Freshwater Rd.

Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The butter chicken combo plate at Curry Delight comes with rice, naan and choice of two veggie curries. (Gabby Peyton)

Indian Express

This Indian food truck has garnered quite a following since it revved its engine for the first time in 2018 — and you really have to follow it on social media.

Jerry Joy parks his food truck at various locations around St. John's to feed office workers in need of a curry fix and is usually parked at Pit Crew Drive-Thru Services at 11 Major's Path in the evenings. During summer 2019, Indian Express also started serving food out of the Beachy Cove Café, in the restaurant desert that is Portugal Cove-St. Philip's. In addition to the choice of meat or vegetarian options like lentil spinach curry, butter chicken and beef curry masala, Joy offers up unique Indian adaptations of Newfoundland cuisine like the cod praco made with prata bread topped with fried cod, onions masala and homemade garlic and mint chutney ($9.99). If you want Joy's Indian-style fish and chips ($10.99) with pakora-battered cod and homemade curry fries you'll have to venture to their Beachy Cove location. 

11 Beachy Cove Rd.

Tuesday to Saturday 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Indian Express owner Jerry Joy is in his truck, ready to feed hungry office workers on Kenmount Road. (Gabby Peyton)

Flavours of India

The newest kid on the block isn't any less full of flavour.

Owner Harsha Deshpande brought Flavours of India to her first market in April 2019 serving up dishes like the butter chicken combo ($12), piled high with basmati rice, naan and veggie curries — and was a staple vendor at the Night Markets held on Thursday evenings in the St. Thomas Church parking lot over the summer. Stay tuned for more market masala with Flavours of India throughout the fall. Deshpande also offers catering services for parties of 20 and more. 

See Facebook page for current locations

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About the Author

Gabby Peyton is a freelance food writer in St. John’s.