Indian ConnectionNo trip to Durban is ever complete without a decent curry.
Forget the beach, the sand sculptures, the stadium tours and the colourful rickshaws. It’s the spiciness of the mutton and the fluffiness of the naan I’m visiting for.
But which restaurant to choose in a city that’s home to so many Indian eateries? I usually head for the Indian enclave around Musgrave Road, one of the few streets in the city that’s retained its name when all around are losing theirs. If you’ve got an older map of the city, Musgrave may be the only street you can still actually find.
But a trawl of several websites in an online popularity poll kept leading me back to Indian Connection, once on Windermere Road and now on Lilian Ngoyi Road, without ever moving an inch.
Last time I was in this area of Morningside I was taken to a strip club further up the road by a couple of reprobates with a dodgy idea of how to impress women from out of town. The club was pretty hot and steamy, but the meat really wasn’t to my liking. It’s far more tender at the Indian Connection.
The restaurant is a little different from the average curry palace. Mostly because it’s based in a quaint old house, where you walk up the steps and ring the doorbell, automatically wondering if you should have brought flowers or a bottle of wine for your host.
Actually, taking your own wine might be a good idea, since the wine list spans precisely four reds and one white, and the choice by the glass is limited to red, white or rose. My glass of red at R18 was thin and extremely forgettable. Cider or a beer would have been a far better choice.
The restaurant is an airy and simple affair, with wooden floors and mostly bare white walls with a few Indian prints scattered around. The best part of the décor is the view, with massive windows looking out onto lively Lilian Ngoyi.
There are practical but unpretty plastic covers protecting the black table cloths, and the tables are a little too close if your neighbouring diners chat loudly. Conversation is the only sound, with the music almost absent except for the strains of some tune or other in the distant background.
The menu is North Indian with the usual offerings, and a maître d’ who described the choice of heat as mild, medium, hot or exhaust pipe. He was much more jolly and knowledgeable than the shy young man who was our main waiter, earning a few rand by helping out rather than really training for the job, methinks.
The food was good, and the prices are certainly a big attraction to anyone used to the Gauteng variety.
My chicken jalfrezi at R60 was tasty and tender, not too oily and with a slightly tingling fieriness that made me wonder if I should have ordered hot instead of medium. More unusual choices include Afghan chops and dishes just called “Durban curry” with lamb or chicken cooked with potatoes in a spicy sauce.
My partner’s rogan josh at R80 was equally generous, with tender meat and a good flavour, but without the complexity that has you analysing the blend of spices in admiration at the deep and rich results.
Naan breads at R13 were decent without achieving that fluffy decadence I crave, and a bowl of rice proved useful for blending with the generous sauces.
Overall it was good meal served in pleasant surroundings, and if I lived In Durban, no doubt I’d be back. But it’s not quite worth a six-hour drive.
Indian Connection is open daily for lunch from 3-5pm and dinner from 5.30pm until late. 485 Lilian Ngoyi Road, Morningside, Durban.
Tel: 031- 12 1440.