There is something comically prosaic about the name of Roti Cuisine of India. It notes a kind of ‘what you see is what you get’ mentality that challenges the would be diner to consider whether he or she might be up to it. Not that the restaurant, which occupies the first floor of a converted house at Spadina and Dupont, adheres to any kind of regional focused (and fashionable) authenticity. Basically, they really do serve, just about any and all of the Indian restaurant standard curries wrapped up in a roti.
At Spice City Toronto, Sarah Efron reports that the restaurant was opened by a former cruise ship chef from the south of India, Vijayan Venkitaraman. Mr. Venkitaraman’s mission, says his menu is “to make the blend of Indian recipes in a customized Roti oriented milieu to engender the optimum felicity.” Indeed. Never mind that this restaurant staffed by Southern Indians is making Northern Indian bread in which to stuff the globalized favourites like Tikka, Korma and Vindaloo: the rotis are fresh and delicious, as are the deep and complex spice blends. On a cold Toronto day, a warm chewy roti stuffed with a rich filling rendolent of masala is pretty much a gastronome’s dream.
I stick with the $7.99 saag aloo (another northern dish), which is simply spinach and potato. The curry is deep green and full of starchy potatoes that offer the slightest resistance to the elasticity of the roti. It’s more than enough food, and a complete meal. I am clearly not the only one enjoying this lunch, as business is beginning to be brisk, and more and more customers seem to come in and out of the Spartanly decorated dining room for take out. The menus have recently been upgraded to colour… I wonder if there is another Roti Cuisine of India on the way?
Malcolm Jolley is a founding editor of Good Food Revolution and Executive Director of Good Food Media, the company that publishes it. Follow him at twitter.com/malcolmjolley