COLUMN: Great flavors, fresh ingredients reign at downtown Indian restaurant (8 photos)


Simmi Hundal preparing comfort food at 5 Indian sisters; “I don’t just copy what other people are doing”, she said

Simmi Hundal’s culinary curiosity as a child in the kitchen followed her from India to England.

Now she’s putting that experience to good use in Canada – right here in Orillia, in fact.

As a young girl in Punjab, India, she watched and helped her mother, Kanwaljit, cook.

At 12, while her mother was shopping, Hundal decided to apply what she had learned. The result surprised his family.

“My father was shocked. I didn’t even tell her I was in the kitchen, ”she said. “Did you make lenses?” Daal? Chapati? “

Her parents loved it, which was a first vote of confidence.

When she was 16, Hundal moved to England, where she learned from a friend how to make samosas from scratch. She also opened an Indian cafe during her stay.

Lucky for us, she arrived in Canada in 2015. Finally, she set her sights on Orillia.

About two and a half months ago, she opened 5 Indian Sisters, a small take-out restaurant in the plaza at 10 Front St. N.

She saw a demand for Indian food in town. (Yes, there are 5 Rivers on Mississaga Street West, and that’s fantastic, but having only one Indian restaurant in town is a request.)

Hundal believes that what makes her food stand out is her obsession with the fresh ingredients that she uses to create such robust and flavorful food.

She is particularly proud of her samosas. The fried pastries are packed mostly with potatoes and peas and pair well with Hundal’s tamarind sauce. For a more lively and tangy taste, it also offers a sauce made with mint, onion and fresh coriander. She should probably sell this stuff by the liter.

“I like to give food different flavors,” she said. “I don’t just copy what other people do. I like to add my own ingredients, my own secret recipes, because some recipes are very common.

I am not a cook. I don’t have a fancy palate – an adequate palate would be more precise – and when it comes to Indian food, it’s everywhere. My taste buds are both amused and confused. But I know I like what I taste, and “I like” is an understatement when it comes to Hundal’s Chicken Korma.

Green pepper and onion play an important role in this dish, which includes tender chicken cooked in a creamy sauce rich in tomatoes, turmeric and other spices. I enjoy it with naan. Hundal says to try with chapati. Obviously you should listen to it.

“In India, the meal is not over if there is no chapati,” she says.

She also recommends the seekh kebab. She uses a chicken breast, with a bit of thigh and thigh for juiciness, and flavor it with cilantro, garlic paste, ginger paste and onion before skewering and to cook it in the tandoor.

Many associate Indian cuisine with spiciness. Most are packed with spices, which makes them spicy by definition, but that doesn’t necessarily mean hot. Those who can’t stand the heat can take comfort in knowing that Hundal Cooks are gentle in spirit. If you like it hot, let him know. She can do it too.

For those unfamiliar with cooking, she offers a few introductory dishes: Butter Chicken (there’s also a Butter Chicken Poutine if you’re feeling this Canadian), samosas (she gives everyone a free samosa, no purchase necessary, until the end of the year) and veggie pakora. Mix and order a thali: six dishes, including three Hundal curries.

Whatever you order, it’s worth ending the experience with dessert. No ice cream, no pie, no crème brûlée. 5 Indian Sisters offers less sweet and more salty options, including rasmalai (hers consists of paneer and cream) and besan cake (gram flour, turmeric, sugar and butter).

Hundal is not bound by its menu. She takes requests. If you give her a day’s notice, she will be happy to make you a shrimp curry or a fish pakora. She can also cater to vegans. Simply call her at 416-818-8138.

Winter is coming. There’s no better time for comfort food, and Hundal does it best.

Well done to her niece, Nanki Bath, who designed the 5 Indian Sisters logo and came up with the name. Hundal had intended to call her 3 Indian sisters, since she has two, but Bath insisted that she and another niece were pretty much like sisters. Do the math.

Good things

The most popular: chicken tikka masala and butter chicken, but the goat curry is soaring

Simmi Hundal’s Favorite: seekh kebab, veggie pakora, samosa

My favorite: chicken korma with rice and naan

Nathan Taylor’s column on local food and drink appears every other Saturday.


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