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Restaurant review: A Taste of India, Ayia Napa
With the vast amount of British tourists that visit Ayia Napa, you would expect the town to boast its own ‘Curry Mile’ or equivalent to satisfy the army of hungry clubbers before they hit the dance floors – but, for some inexplicable reason, there have only ever been a few Indian restaurants operating in the resort.
Kebabs, Chinese take-aways and burger bars have always been the big winners, with Indian cuisine, it's probably fair to say, being something of an unknown quantity in this area.
Except The Raj in Protaras, the only other restaurant here which has been serving curries and popadoms for over a decade is the Taste of India, sitting just opposite the popular main square, slap bang in the neon-lit sprawl of the resort.
The rickety staircase going upwards from the main street leads eventually to a large dining area, and fortunately last Thursday evening it was not too busy - my only company turned out to be a group of super cool Israeli guys, eating with sunglasses on (and mobile phones placed next to the napkins) and a bunch of giggly Scandinavian girls.
The atmosphere was good and with so few people in that night I plonked myself at a table near the end of the veranda, which provided a superb panorama over Ayia Napa. I was afforded a brilliant view of PRs (which is a posh way of describing irritating touts) hassling long suffering tourists and scores of bikini clad girls making their way through the town after a hard day at the beach.
After a bottle of beer, I started with the ‘Aloo Chaat’ salad – a light mix of cold potatoes, blended with mint and onions (€4.20). I have learned not to eat too much in Indian restaurants nowadays, as I always leave feeling very bloated and slightly queasy.
The menu includes all the usual suspects for main courses: Chicken Chilli, Madras, Vindaloo, Palak, Tikka Masala (and even a mango version) and Bhuna - but for me the pick of bunch was the Chicken Jalfrezi (€8.90), which is normally medium hot. It’s apparently a Pakistani dish, but there are some who say it originates in China – either way it tuned out to be an inspired choice.
I can only assume, by his white net hat, that it was the cook who delivered the small silver bowl with a blood red dish bubbling and sizzling with tender chunks of tandoori chicken, cooked with capsicum, fried onions and sweet peppers.
It looked delicious and smelled divine and did’nt take long before the sweat erupted from my forehead – anyway, the dish was subtle, tasty, but certainly a bit of a devil in disguise – as the after kick of peppers was immense – and was utterly delicious.
To go with the curry, I choose a definite winner with the Kashmir pilau rice, which was cooked with nuts, cream, chopped and crushed herbs, spices and small slithers of pineapple.
I skipped dessert, despite the menu including a traditional home made Indian ice cream – I’ll save that till next time.
I noticed online that a Taste of India has received mixed reviews, and while I certainly don’t pretend to be a connoisseur of Indian cuisines, I think this restaurant delivers good quality food, without ripping customers off – my bill for the curry, rice, two beers and a bottle of water was €26. I must also give a quick mention about the waiters - they are friendly and in no hurry to get you to order.
Parking for restaurants in central Ayia Napa is not easy, so it’s best to use the Municipal car park near the square – which takes nerves and courage, because it smells like a urinal from an over-populated prison.
WHERE A Taste of India, 8 Makarios Avenue, Ayia Napa
PRICE from €20 per person