10131 81 Avenue NW, Edmonton
Last week, I had the chance to try Narayanni’s for the first time. I was invited to try their new lunch buffet, which just launched this spring. It’s been open for dinner for several years now, but just recently opened its doors for a lunch buffet from Tuesday-Friday from 11:30 AM to 1:30PM for 12$, which is an outstanding price. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend lunch, but they graciously let me try out their dinner buffet. They also offer a Vegan buffer every Tuesday night, but I opted to try their Wednesday night buffet.
Narayanni’s is the definition of a mom and pop restaurant. They treat all of their customers like family, and you get a really great vibe from the restaurant. Narayanni is also the name of the Indian Goddess of Abundance, and also so happens to be the name of the Naidoo family’s first Grand daughter. I love how much influence family has on the restaurant.
Narayani’s isn’t your typical Indian restaurant, as there is a lot of South African influences on the dishes. Both owners learnt a great deal from their parents, and having grown up in South Africa, received a lot of cultural influences on their cooking. Selva, one of the owners, learned through her mother how to become an exceptional cook, and how to combine ingredients for the perfect flavour. Ensuring that their patrons enjoy high quality food, and great service, offered in an elegant service is their top priority, and they definitely deliver on this front.
Their ingredients are locally sourced, of the highest quality, whenever possible. Because of their priority with the freshest ingredients, their buffet selection can change on a day to day basis, and it’s a good idea to call on the day if you are seeking a particular dish.
That night, they were serving 5 main dishes, along with soup, salads, rice, and desserts. They were spinach and tofu, chana masala, braised cauliflower and peas, chicken curry, and grilled masala chicken. For salads, they had traditional wedding salad and cucumber raita with papadum.
Unlike most other Indian restaurants, they serve roti instead of the usual naan. Roti is a type of Indian flat bread. This is pan-fried and delicious. Nice and light, and definitely worth it! It does come at an additional cost, but definitely worth it!
To start off my meal, we had a chai. You can get it just original, or get their pistachio chai which is topped with blended pistachios. This was honestly the best chai that I’ve ever had. It was warm and welcoming, just like the atmosphere of the restaurant. I definitely recommend getting one!
The traditional wedding salad is fresh vegetables, lightly seasoned, and tossed together. This alone was really refreshing. Tip: I would save some of this to eat with your entrée dishes because it really helps with the spice!
A favourite of mine would have to be the cucumber raita with the papadum lentil crisps. Raita is an Indian side dish, that’s usually made with dahi (yogurt), mixed with raw or cooked vegetables. It usually has the purpose to cool ones palate to contrast the spicy curries. This was great with the papadum, and definitely had a cooling effect after eating really spicy curry!
The first dish beside the rice was the spinach and tofu. When I’ve gone to other restaurants, it’s usually served with paneer cheese instead of tofu, which I absolutely love, but everything tonight was dairy free. I liked this dish quite a bit. The tofu was a nice and firm and it went really nicely with the roti and the rice. Great start for the night!
Next was braised cauliflower with peas. This was really fragrant and nice. The cauliflower was perfectly cooked and was not too soft or firm. Probably my least favourite of the first dishes, but still really good! It went nicely with rice, but I’d prefer to fill up on the other dishes.
The next dish we had was Chana Masala. I’ve been having a love-affair with chick peas recently. Who doesn’t love a good hummus!? The main ingreditent of Chana Masala is typically chick peas, spices, and some vegetables. That night, it was made with zucchini. This was one of my favourite dishes of the night! I found that Narayanni’s is a little bit on the spicy side, compared to most of the other Indian restaurants that I’ve been to, so it’s good if you can handle your spice!
Next was the curry chicken. Definitely the spiciest dish of the night, but also one of my favourite. Nice large pieces of chicken. All of the chicken that is used at Narayanni’s is locally sourced, free-range, and grain fed. All the pieces of chicken were really tender and lean. Good with the roti and the rice!
Lastly, was my favourite of the night – the grilled masala chicken. These were beautifully grilled, with a nice and flavourful skin, with spices that goes all the way through the chicken. Cooked perfectly, and easy to eat. This went well with all of the other dishes, and on its own. The first plate that had I had was a good balance of all the dishes, but for my second round, I had two pieces of grilled masala chicken, and some rice. Delicious!
I definitely didn’t have any room for dessert, but I forced myself to have some any way! The cinnamon-infused rice pudding was definitely worth it! Probably the best rice-pudding that I’ve ever had. It was perfectly sweet, and had just the right amount of spice and sweetness. The texture was perfect and a great way to end your meal.
On top of it all, Narayanni’s also allows you to buy unique gifts for yourself or others. They sell Mama’s Masala spice and Lemon Pickle, Narayanni’s Homemade Chai spice. Delicious! I highly recommend buying the Chai Spice and making some chai on your own at home if you didn’t get a chance to order one with your meal. Again, it is probably the best Chai that I have ever had!
Overall I really enjoyed my experience here. Narayanni’s is a great restaurant and I’d definitely go back! Their Tuesday’s Vegan night sounds like a great experience, and their Lunch Buffet is an incredible deal! Definitely recommend giving this place a try.