Update: This restaurant has closed.
Before we get to Handi Cuisine of India I’d like to say a few words about lazymeal. For those of you not yet familiar with lazymeal, it’s an online food ordering platform that is focused on recommending the tastiest meals in greater Vancouver. It’s simple, just punch in your postal code and peruse the menus of establishments in your area, place your order, and voila! lazymeal delivers. They’re partnering up with the local food blogging community to evaluate the restaurants you can order from on their sites, and we were lucky enough to get an invite to one of their mashup events.
For these reviews (and you will probably see more of them in the near future) we will be focusing on the take-out aspect of the restaurants, so don’t expect any info on the service and decor etc. But we think all in all these reviews will be more informative to our readers since we will get to sample a wider selection of the menu than usual, because the food is the most important aspect after all, right? And don’t worry, we aren’t selling out; we’ve been encouraged to be completely honest with our reviews. Enjoy this write up of Handi Cuisine of India!
First up we had the Mixed Platter ($10) and Chutney Trio ($2). It consists of vegetable samosas, chicken pakoras and vegetable pakoras. The samosas in particular stood out from the crowd; they contained a pretty complex spice blend compared to your average restaurant samosa. Wendy said it tasted Christmas-ey, and I agreed. Cloves and nutmeg perhaps? Maybe some ginger? I don’t know for sure, but you could tell by the dark colour of the potato mixture inside that there was a lot going on in that spice blend.
The chicken pakoras had decently sized chunks of moist meat and tasted great with the spicy mint chutney. The tamarind was of the usual variety that normally come free with samosas and the mango chutney was really sweet. If you go for this platter I’d suggest getting the chutney to go with it. While the samosas could stand on their own the vegetable pakoras might be a bit dry without.
Along with the appetizers we tried their Cucumber Salad ($6). Some of the red you see in the photo is tomato, and some is…maraschino cherry! Pretty unexpected but it actually went quite well in the salad. They use it for garnish in several dishes, and it isn’t necessarily meant to be eaten with the meal but in this case it worked. The yoghurt-type dressing was cool and creamy (Wendy found a tinge of sweetness) and the whole dish was very refreshing.
We’ll start with the old standby: Butter Chicken ($11.95). Neither of us is a huge fan of this dish in general, but even trying to write impartially and comparing it with other butter chicken experiences we would both say this one was overly sweet. Also, and this goes for the other mains too, the portions are slightly on the small side since the dishes are more shallow than they appear, most of the depth being taken up by a candle underneath to keep the food warm. Nice touch though with the candle, it kept things bubbling hot.
This one was the favourite of the night between us: boneless Lamb Methl ($13.50). It’s a fenugreek curry in a creamy korma style. The lamb was really tender and easy to cut with a fork, and the sauce was rich and flavourful. Bonus health tip for guys here: while the restaurant owner claimed no knowledge, fenugreek is purported to be an aphrodisiac that raises testosterone and some bodybuilders take it in capsule form to try to boost gains. So eat up, it’ll put hair on your chest!!
And now for a vegetarian dish: Vegetable Jal Farezie ($11.95). Assorted vegetables including cauliflower, peas, and carrots are stir fried and bathed in a tomato-ey sauce with a bit of lemon zing and topped with crumbled paneer cheese. This time the maraschino cherry garnish worked only as a garnish. While spice level can be specified when ordering, all our dishes were made mild-medium spice level. The jal farezie was spicier than the others we tried, and the saag they use for their spinach-based dishes seems to be a bit spicier by default as well.
This one was another favourite, the Prawns Goa Curry ($15.95). It’s a runnier coconut based curry which reminded us of yellow Malaysian curries, but more salty and less sweet. Personally I could have used some of the excess sugar from the butter chicken to sweeten the pot, but it was yummy nonetheless. Very tropical tasting. The prawns were lightly cooked, juicy and tender.
Chicken Tikka Masala ($11.95) is something we usually steer clear of because we find it too dry, but this one wasn’t so bad. I guess the dryness of the dish can’t be avoided due to the cooking method combined with the white meat, but this one was maybe a little less dry than the norm. The sauce baked into it had a lot of flavour too.
We tried a couple of rice dishes with our meal. The Rice Pulao ($3) can be seen in the background of the tikka photo above and came with whole cumin seeds mixed in. The Pea Pulao ($4) immediately above packed a smokey grill-flavoured punch which we both loved. The rice portions were again a bit on the small size though. It wouldn’t be so bad if they offered a large family size where if you buy more you get more bang for your buck, but they don’t, so ordering enough rice to go with your curries without breaking the bank could be a bit problematic. I suppose if you’re ordering delivery though you could just make your own rice at home; I used to do that quite often in Surrey when I lived around the corner from a Punjabi restaurant.
Now for the naan dishes. We tried the Garlic and Basil Naan ($3) and the regular Naan ($2). Both were light and fluffy and free of burn marks. You will need something to soak up the sauce from your mains with, and either of these comes recommended. I can’t have an Indian meal without Raita ($2), and Handi’s homemade version is as good as any; a cool and refreshing runny yoghurt blended with cucumber and carrots and some mild spices. It’s quite refreshing and a must if you order your dishes at a higher spice level.
For the stuffed versions we had the Palak Paneer Naan ($3, top) and Aloo Naan ($3, bottom). The spinach and paneer cheese in the palak paneer naan were unbelievably fresh tasting and the texture of the potato pea mixture sandwiched in the aloo naan was equally satisfying, so it’s hard to pick a favourite here. Both would be good with chutney but dipping in the rich curries would probably just serve to overwhelm the flavours in these ones.
Mango Cheesecake ($5). Rich and very, very sweet. A vein of blueberry running through it. Not made in house, but wherever they get it from makes a mean cheesecake.
More mango: the Mango Ice Cream ($4) is made from ingredients the owner sources himself and then takes to a local ice cream factory for processing. Fresh mango pulp and pistachios are blended with cream in this refreshing dessert. A good option if you’re looking for something a little less sweet than the cheesecake, and they deliver it! (Not in a puddle I assume…)
This one’s a pretty traditional Indian dessert–Gulab Jamun ($5). Two pastry balls are deep fried and served in a sickly sweet syrup. We’ve had this one before elsewhere and both found it way too sugary, but this one was different in both texture, taste, and temperature. It was served very warm and the balls were quite jiggly (lol) and soggy on the inside, with an aftertaste of milk and eggs kind of like a bread pudding. We both agreed it was the best version of this dessert we’ve had.
If you’re interested in ordering from Handi here’s a link to their menu on lazymeal.
Disclaimer: The food were provided free of charge by the business. All opinions are solely my own.