Monday, April 11, 2011

Amaya: The Indian Room on Bayview

One of my favourite Indian restaurants in Toronto is Amaya: The Indian Room, serving sophisticated and innovative Indian cuisine that is wonderfully flavourful, deliciously fragrant and consistently excellent. Amaya's dishes focus on both north and south Indian cuisine, with tandoori flavours from the north and seafood specialties from Goa. The dishes come beautifully plated and served in handsome hammered copper bowls, creating an environment that is as beautiful, as it is welcoming. 

Amaya's elegantly modern interior

Modern paintings and photographs of the Indian countryside line Amaya’s red-and-cream-colored walls and maple paneling, while large round woven lanterns adorn its ceilings. Amaya has an inviting and relaxed atmosphere with servers elegantly attired in traditional Indian Nehru jackets in addition to being charming and well informed about Amaya's menu and the kitchen's ability to adjust dishes according to customer's wishes.

Himalayan Basmati Rice in Amaya's attractive hammered copper vessels

Everything at Amaya is absolutely delicious — the menu and divided up into starters, vegetarian dishes, seafood & fish, poultry, meat, rice and naan. The best place to start is with one of their signature dishes, Amaya Prawns which are sautĂ©ed with sweet peppers and onions in a green mango curry, and a plate of their yukon gold potatoes and green peas filled Samosas with cumin, coriander and turmeric — light, flakey and delicious, they are quite addictive. 

Amaya Prawns — a culinary masterpiece and my personal favourite

The Chard Pakora Fritters are also excellent, made with gram flour, green chilies, coriander, turmeric and caraway seeds, and two sauces: a coriander mint chutney and a spicy tamarind sauce, which add a nice kick to the pakoras.

Amaya Chard Pakoras

It's best to go to Amaya with another couple, as we did this evening, so you can take full advantage of Amaya's outstanding menu, including their succulent Butter Chicken in a richly flavoured and layered tomato cream sauce; classic Lamb Shank Xacutti, served in a richly flavoured coriander, coconut, clove and cardomom sauce; emerald green Saag Paneer accented with nutmeg, ground coriander, ginger and garlic;  and of course Dal Makhani, Amaya's 12-hour cooked black lentil stew prepared in a rich tomato and butter sauce. A couple of orders of hot, pillowy naan and cardamom-bejewelled Himayan basmati rice are the perfect counterpoint for any Indian meal, and at Amaya, it's a feast fit for a Maharaja. 

Amaya's Saag Paneer garnished with red pepper and shaved ginger

An empire in the making, Amaya has several locations across Toronto from Amaya Express (the home delivery arm of Amaya), Amaya Bread Bar, Amaya: The Indian Room and two new food court locations, plus their new line of prepared sauces available at Pustater's, McKewans, Longo's and Metro. Amaya also offers private catering for corporate events, weddings, cocktail receptions and private dinner parties, providing service staff, bartenders and on site chefs!

Amaya's new line of prepared sauces

Amaya Butter Chicken
Serves 4

3 8oz chicken breasts boneless, skin removed, diced in small pieces
1 12.6 oz bottle Amaya Butter Chicken Sauce

1/4 cup) unsalted butter
5 tbsp single cream
½ cup water or chicken stock
¼ tsp dried fenugreek leaves

For the marinade:
2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 ½ tsp salt
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 cup plain full fat yogurt
¼ tsp Garam Masala

Make small cuts all over the chicken pieces with a sharp knife to help marinade penetrate. To marinate the chicken, mix it with the ginger-garlic paste, oil, salt, lemon juice and chilli powder and leave for 10 minutes. Then mix it the yogurt and garam masala together and apply to chicken. Set aside for another 10 minutes. Place  them on a baking tray.

Preheat oven 425°F, and cook the chicken for 15-18 minutes. You may need to turn the pieces after 10 minutes or so to ensure they colour evenly on both sides. The chicken should be cooked through. Strain off the juices through a fine sieve and set the chicken aside.

Meanwhile, heat the Amaya Butter chicken sauce and water in a pan and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Add chicken, cream and butter and simmer for 8 minutes, until the sauce is beginning to acquire a glaze.

Serve with naan bread or pilaf basmati.

1701 Bayview Avenue, Toronto