3504 17th Ave SE Calgary, p:(403)261-0666, Map it.
We arrived in the early evening to find the place fairly deserted, there was but one occupied table. The staff was not very conspicuous and we had to seat ourselves. When the waiter finally arrived, he was very quiet and left behind a solitary menu for us mull over (between 6 people).
The ambience is drab at best. Dark curtains and upholstery cover the windows and the booth-style seating. The tables required a wipedown and we had to specifically request it. There was also no ambient music which only to the coldness of the atmosphere. On the bright side, once we settled in, a few take-out patrons came and went, suggesting some hope. It is definitely a hole in the wall!
We ordered the seekh kabab, chicken tikka, bhindi masala, butter chicken and chicken and goat karahis accompanied by naan and lassi (mango and sweet plain).
The mango lassi was quite tasty but with a watery consistency while the sweet lassi was thick, frothy and very good.
Our plates arrived prior to our meal and we had to send them back. The plates were covered in grease and grime and appeared unwashed. The second batch of plates were an improvement but definitely not satisfactory. However, we soldiered on.
The food arrived all at once except for the naan. When the naan came it was worth the wait. Fresh and crispy with a light slick of ghee, seemed to be right off of the hot clay walls of the tandoor (clay oven).
The seekh kabab was quite spicy but nothing spectacular, while the chicken tikka was excellent. Deep flavours, tender and not at all over cooked; it was definitely a good start.
Both the karahi dishes were very good. The cuts of meat were not choice but the beautifully marinated chicken in a thick gravy, garnished with caramelized onions and cilantro leaves, was quite the explosion of taste. The goat karahi was very spicy and had a strong ginger influence. Both dishes quite tasty especially with the naan.
The butter chicken here takes a different spin. Typically somewhat sweet and creamy, here it is tangy and tomatoey. Quite tasty!
The bhindi masala consisted of sauted okra, onions and garlic among a smattering of spices. This dish was rather bland by indo-pakistani standards but it helped bring out the taste of okra and was a welcome respite for some of our spice averse party.
The food here is good but the management need to make a concerted effort to lift the space; make it inviting and provide an environment that entices the palate rather than dulls. Service also leaves a lot to be desired. Take-out might be worth it but sit-in still has a way to go.