My current home, Cape Town, also offers an array of aromatic spices and seeds, mostly Cape Malay. However, I find the flavour and bite is not quite the same. Instead of hot and pungent, the flavour is often subtle and the level of spiciness is mild. The Bunny chow or bunny, a hollowed- out loaf of bread filled with a hot curry is one of my favourite Indian dishes, along with chilli bites and a roti filled with potato curry. After trying out a number of local restaurants offering Indian cuisine that haven’t met my expectations, I had given up on exploring.
I decided to cook curry in my kitchen, using spices brought from home, to get the flavour I was yearning for. When the invitation to dine at chef Seelan Sundoo’s tapas-style eatery and bar named Sundoo dropped in my mail, I couldn’t say no. Sundoo is a renowned restaurateur in the city, brunches at his Seelan restaurant are my summer highlights.
The urban and chic New York- style eatery based in Sea Point offers an intimate dining experience, hosting seated guests in cushioned booths and chairs. We arrived there for an early dinner on a Friday afternoon, a perfect time to sit by the window overlooking buzzing Regent Road. Besides the lovely ambience, artworks hanging on the walls, portraits that Sundoo has collected from his travels, caught my eye. When you look at the art, one can get a sense of his Southern India roots and craft.
Our host Donovan Baatjes, started our dinner experience with a variety of refreshing and tasty cocktails that included a mango mojito and cucumber mint cooler. This was followed by mouthwatering tapas and dishes of anjuna prawn, prawns cooked in tomato, onion, fresh curry leaves, coriander and garlic and ginger. South Indian spiced chilli bites, samoosas, a slow-cooked lamb with a special blend of herbs and spices. Fish curry as well as masala chops with saffron chutney.
The mini bunny trio of sweet potato and pea, lamb and chicken bunny chow sealed the deal. I have found my Indian food happy place. The tapas style servings means you can try out many dishes and it makes for an intimate dining experience with friends. As the eatery is small, it allowed us to have a special interaction with chef Sundoo who came to our table for a chat, sharing stories about his travels and food. I was chuffed that I could pick his brain about the latest Indian food restaurants I could try when visiting home. The menu is designed to be shared at the restaurant or you can choose the takeaway option to enjoy at home.
Inspired by his South Indian roots and adding a Durban-Indian influence, there is enough variety on the menu to satisfy even a tough foodie. Not everyone can stand a spicy dish so there is an option on the menu to select the strength of your dish from medium, to hot and vindaloo. Vegetarians are catered for as well with dhal (lentils) and salads. Starch or sides offered include basmati and jeera rice, roti and paratha (flatbread). Don’t be afraid to eat with your fingers, have fun with the food and dining experience.
I left the restaurant well-fed and happy that I have experienced a taste of “home”. The restaurant can take only a certain number of diners and fills up quickly. Go early for lunch or dinner and arrive hungry.
* Sundoo Indian Tapas and Bar is at Shop 6, La 77 Regent Road in Sea Point. Visit [email protected] or 021 433 0542