1422 Gerrard St East, Toronto (Gerrard St. or Little India)
The Indian McDonalds, we call it. Much like the famous golden arches the red Motimahal signage is iconic to Gerrard street.
(Top photo via Flickr: Andrew Alexander)
It's one of the oldest restaurants in Little India and definitely one of the best, if not the best. The consistent food and familiar tacky interior makes Motimahal a reliable (and recognizable location in Deepa Mehta's Bollywood/Hollywood) and satisfying place to dine in the East end.
The cafeteria-like "diner" setting, with slanted laminate seats, red tables and ceramic tiled walls (with only recent update of painted red swirls and circles) is all part of the charm. As is the plastic trays, cutlery and styrofoam cups filled with water from steel jugs.
Also, your urge to wipe the table or seats down with paper towels is entirely normal. As is suppressing the urge to pee so as not to visit the washrooms downstairs (which are, actually, not that bad). This place is not for everyone...and yet, everyone seems to come here. There is always a steady stream of customers chowing down on veg thalis (the best in the city), masala dosas, tandoori chicken and naan (my favourite), chaats, samosas, butter chicken (incredible), just to name a few. There is also a colourful array of indian sweets for you to choose from.
My favourite dish is the tandoori chicken with naan; ask anyone - this is what I will, 90% of the time order from Motimahal. This time I went with the tandoori WINGS (it was 3pm and this was our 'snack' time between shopping).
I don't know if I've ever mentioned how much I dislike cilantro, but I do. It's more the smell of FRESH cilantro that makes me nauseous. However, for some reason, and this baffles my loved ones (and me), I do like a good bit of cilantro chutney - the kind that comes with tandoori chicken and that little side of carrots and onions - it's just so tasty (with tandoori chicken and that little side of carrots and onions).
My sister's love for chaat is like my love for tandoori chicken. Whenever she visits; there's nothing like a good bite of chaat (mixture of potato cubes, crispy fried bread and chickpeas, garnished with onion, coriander, hot spices, topped with yogurt).
It's very simple...if you're looking for a place to eat in Little India, look no further than Motimahal (or Udupi for South Indian cuisine but I'll save that for another post).