The Indian Masala (129 Ermou St, Thission, Athens) was first noticed by Hector and Marg during our brief but dramatic visit to Athena last summer. As is recorded, the Dhaka Palace has been the venue of choice on previous visits, on this trip there was time to experiment. That the Indian Masala opens at noon each day was to our mutual advantage, this was the final feed before returning to Scotland. The much sought after Stifados were consumed last evening, the Greek target had been met, time to return to the main priority – Curry.
Located just down from Monastiraki Metro Station the Indian Masala is very easy to find if one wanders around the small streets which comprise the Flee Market. On Lower Ermou St the restaurant is passed the guys selling junk and spray paint, is this where they get it? Sadly for Athens just about every wall is covered in Graffiti, even the glass doors of the Indian Masala have not escaped.
We entered just on noon, a young Doris was perhaps surprised to find customers so early in the day. A Chef appeared from out back, we were in business. Marg considered an Onion Bhaji to be sufficient at this time of day, Hector had previously ascertained from the menu posted outside that Lamb Karahi was available. Now for the accompaniment. Roti were €2 each, steep. White Rice was €3 and Pilau €4. Adding Vegetables or even Mushrooms would put another €2 on to this, just how much Rice would be served to justify this? I decided that a Paratha at €3 was the sensible compromise, if it was a half decent size it would be sufficient.
We managed to communicate that the Onion Bhaji should be served with the Curry, Doris’ English was tuning in. The Chef busied himself in the kitchen that was visible through the glass windows which ran the length of the restaurant. Taking in the surroundings, the décor was simple and could sit around thirty covers. The toilets were pristine, there was an air of newness about the place. Marg believes she spotted an award dated 2011 so it unlikely they have been there too long.
The Kitchen door opened and Doris emerged with the food. The Onion Bhaji was two flat Pancakes accompanied by a Creamy Garlic Dip. Marg ate this in its entirety before turning her attention to what I was eating.
The Karahi was very large and so was only filled about half way. Those who do not like Tomato-rich Curry should look away now. The Masala had pedigree and was based on pulped Onion. The fresh Tomato had also been pulped and had been added later with the Lamb. The colour of the dish was an impressive natural red rather than the synthetic colour achieved by nasty food colouring. There was an oily sheen to the dish, Olive Oil I wonder? Time to eat.
The Paratha had been cut into quarters, it was hot but touchable. The first Dip was a winner. I decided not to decant the Curry to the provided plate, why give up the heat from the Karahi? I instantly knew that this Curry was going to be a pleasing experience. The Tomato-rich Masala impressed, there were slivers of Fresh Ginger in the mix which added significantly to the overall flavour. A couple of pieces of Eggplant had found their way into the dish along with four pieces of the dreaded Capsicum, the latter were left high and dry. The Spice content was perfect, a decent kick without being the talking point. The Lamb was cut quite small and was buried. This turned out to be very well cooked. That I found myself counting the pieces suggests that I could have done with one or two more pieces of meat, however nobody would go hungry eating dish. The more I ate the greater the pleasure. I would certainly return and have the Lamb Karahi here again.
€18.00. I took their card and presented mine. Suddenly Doris was in full flow and asked if I was a journalist. She was then shown the Curry-Heute website on my phone, in return she promised to tell her boss. I asked if the Chef was her boss and was told he was in fact the second Chef, the Main Man would be in around an hour or so. Maybe next time.
If the young waitress does leave a comment in this report then I shall be able to change her name from Doris…