Masalawala Indian Canteen does build-your-own Indian curry bowls with healthy twists.
The concept is actually years in the making, pioneered by a part owner of hotel and restaurant Pantry Shelf Foods. Curries developed over a process of years are actually all made in India.
It's nice to see more original concept replacing the Pizza Pizza that once took up residence here. Jump Branding & Design is responsible for the colourful interior.
Start building a bowl ($11.99, $14.99 for a large size) by selecting a base of white or brown basmati rice, or (here come the healthy twists) quinoa for an extra 49 cents.
From there, choose from six proteins, including two vegan options: grilled veggies or grilled tofu and green peppers.
There are five options for curries which don't stray much from the typical Indian restaurant lineup: think korma, vindaloo and tikka.
Finish off with as many as you want from a selection of half a dozen toppings: red onion, cilantro, basil, lime, fresh diced tomato and fiery chopped raw green chilli that can really bump up the heat in any dish.
Makhani is essentially your classic butter chicken sauce: thick, sweet, creamy and just a little spicy. Pair with grilled tandoori chicken for a build-your-own version of a favourite.
Palak (spinach and garlic curry) and grilled paneer cheese are another very typical pairing. The mild, veggie-based sauce clings to the good-sized cubes of the squeaky cheese.
All bowls come with a mini-naan. It feels like this is also a bit of healthy tweak, seeing as it's much less bread than might typically be eaten with curries, and isn't dripping in butter as it often tends to be.
"Special" bowls are still $11.99, but offer specialty combinations of components, like a "Paleo" option that's simply tandoori chicken and grilled vegetables unaccompanied by curry or grains. Other special bowls include a "Keto" bowl and dal makhani.
Snacks and sides include potato and pea fritters ($3.49), spiced peas stuffed into potato that's fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside.
Veggie samosas also go for $3.49. Both are imported from the U.K., and go great with two available chutneys: a sweet tamarind or a fresh, bright mint.
A Belgian white chocolate samosa ($2.99) provides one last little surprise on the menu. Not a typical dessert at Indian restaurants, white chocolate and other ingredients meld in the centre of the crispy fried pastry, creating a sweet and savoury effect not dissimilar to deep-fried candy bars or cookies.
Watch out for the possibility of more locations to come from this build-your-own brand.