Matha Roti is home to some of Toronto’s spiciest East-Indian-style roti and biryani. Everything is made from scratch on-site, and the proportion of spices in the custom house garam masala gives all the dishes a one-of-a-kind flavour.
There are also some twists on a typical Indian dishes here, fresh bell pepper added to curries like butter chicken, and fusion elements creeping in with items like a Hakka chilli roti.
The rough 10-seat space formerly housed local favourite Flip, Toss & Thai, and a little window into the kitchen affords a view of scratch cooking.
Spices are toasted and ground in-house for their own special house garam masala, a blend of cloves, cardamom pods, peppercorns, dried peppers, and a healthy dose of cinnamon.
A Hakka chilli roti ($12.95) fuses this garam masala with a sauce of rice wine vinegar, chili, garlic, light soy and raw sugar for a fusion take on a certain style of Asian traveller’s cuisine.
With lamb as our choice of protein for a dollar upcharge, combined with mixed veggies, the result is a super spicy, sweet and sour curry.
The roti itself is silky to the touch but a little stiffer than some others that are more elastic and velvety. The spice level can be adjusted on any dish, but even those who can take heat should err on the milder side. Even medium dishes are equivalent to the highest spice level at spots like Mother India or Bombay Roti.
Butter chicken roti ($13.95) is certainly different from many in town, due to the roti texture, the earthy ratio of the spice blend, and the crunch and brightness of the fresh bell pepper. The meat itself is gleaming white inside and succulent.
Asparagus malai kofta ($13.50), like everything here, can be ordered as a roti or with rice. This vegetarian dish consists of fall-apart, palm-sized dumplings of cheese, potato, and crunchy asparagus swimming in a warm and spicy butter chicken (makhani) sauce.
Eggplant and potato curry ($11.50) is actually vegan, cooked with ginger, onion, tomato and fennel for a mildly-flavoured dish that's packed with eggplant.
Shrimp biryani ($15.50) is the most pricey out of several typical biryani options, spicy and full-flavoured without any bitterness, the shrimp large and juicy.
While the rice is quite spicy (since the stock it’s cooked with is actually spiced with chilis), it doesn’t overpower the fragrance and flavour of this biryani. Thankfully, it’s served with cooling raita.
Don’t let the humble setting fool you: Chef John Savarimuthu has had an international career with stints on Disney Cruise Lines and in New York City at Revival, and previously ran 5th Element in Toronto.