TORONTO: Moti Mahal In Gerrard India Bazaar reminds one of the same-name famous restaurants in India. There was one on MG Road in Jaipur which we used to frequent very often. Then there was one in old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk area, which again was a great place to go to with friends and families.
So when I came to Toronto on my first trip in 1999, I was a little intrigued to find the same-name restaurant in Gerrard India Bazaar.
Not only the name but also the quality of food were the same – or even better than that I had tasted at Moti Mahals in India. So eating at this place at that time was a kind of deja vu for me.
Over the past five or six years I have gone there a few times to eat, and objectively speaking, Moti Mahal is by far the best place for delicious Indian food and sweets in Gerrard Street.
Owner Gurjit Chadha & Co offer you the best of Punjabi dishes. And they are equally great at preparing delicious dosas, Gujarati Bhel Poori and Sev Poori, and Dahi Bhalla.
For desserts, there are mouth-watering Gajar-halwa, Gulab-jamuns, Faluda and loads of other sweets. And you can round off your meals with their tasty masala chai.
Every time you go there, delicious aromas wafting from the kitchen send your taste buds racing. Personally, I cannot resist these aromas.
Topping my list on the menu at Moti Mahal is their tandoori chicken naan, meat thali and vegetable thali. Of course, their snacks such as chicken samosas can be very filling.
As Keith Pankhurst, who is a regular at Moti Mahal because of its chicken samosas, says, “Oh, I love this place for its chicken samosas. I discovered this place two years ago, and I have not stopped coming here since then simply because of their chicken samosas.’’
Biting into a samosa, he says, “They are big, nice and tasty and I have not found any other place where they make such delicious samosas. In fact, once in a while my dinner includes only a couple of chicken samosas from Moti Mahal. This is the best place for me.’’
At another table where a family is having its lunch, a young girl who identifies herself as Sapna W, says, “Everybody praises the food at Moti Mahal. Their chicken karahi as well as vegetable curry are my favourite. Prices are reasonable as well.
“The food is just so good. But I would like the atmosphere to be better here. I am a fan of sitting and these guys need to make this place a little more comfortable. But as for food, they are probably the best in the business in this area.’’
For Moti Mahal owner Gurjit Chadha, who came here from Delhi in the mid-1970s, it was his first foray into this business.
As Chadha recalls, “Since there were no good food shops in this area, my friend Navani of Indian Record Shop offered me this property to open a restaurant. That’s how we started here. When we opened Moti Mahal in Feb 1979, we were such a success on the very first day. We sold all our stuff in no time. I knew instantly that we have a great future here.’’
In fact, in the 1980s, people coming to Gerrard India Bazaar – from far and wide and even from the US – would make it a point to taste food at Moti Mahal because of its reputation, say old-timers in the area.
Over the years, Chadha opened other branches as well as franchised. But Moti Mahal in Gerrard Street – where he began his Canadian journey – remains his favourite.