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North Indian eatery spices up Franschhoek’s main street

22 April 2017 - 02:00 By Kit Heathcock
Marigold’s menu is filled with mouth-watering dishes.
Marigold’s menu is filled with mouth-watering dishes.
Image: Supplied

The exotic Marigold restaurant is as authentic as it gets — just ask the Durban chef who travelled all the way to India to learn how to prepare the dishes on its menu, writes Kit Heathcock

When Mr Singh of the Leeu Collection decided to open an Indian restaurant at the top of Franschhoek’s main street, he chose chef Vanie Padayachee to run it.

“I was at Le Quartier (Francais) for the last 20 years on and off; that’s home – it’s where I grew up as a chef,” Vanie says. “Mr Singh wanted authentic North Indian. I’m a Durban girl; I knew South Indian, Sri Lankan and Durban Indian, but that’s chalk and cheese.  So off to India I went for two months and worked with a tutor and also worked in some of the top Delhi restaurants in the evenings: The Lodhi hotel, Indian Accent, Delhi Club House, they all taught me so much.”

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She learned all the flavours and techniques then came back and practised her dishes by cooking for Mr Singh. “I needed a true palate to see anywhere I was going wrong. That helped me create this menu.”

Marigold’s menu is filled with mouth-watering dishes, from typical street food starters (don’t miss the palak chaat, crispy spinach leaves in chickpea batter) to tandoori dishes, curries and biryanis, so much so that we wanted to order one of everything.

We were saved from over-indulgence by the suggestion of a thali, where the chef selects a platter of several favourite dishes, plus dal, rice, raita and a flatbread.

Going for one vegetarian thali and one with meat was the perfect combination and really allowed us to explore the subtle spice differences between the aloo ghobi and the aloo tikki chole chaat (potato patties with chickpea curry), the rogan josh and the tandoori lamb kebab.

We also loved the buffalo milk paneer, the Amritsari linefish, delicate and zesty with chaat masala, the butter chicken, and the beautifully light and flaky roti.

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The desserts were perfection on a plate, not too sweet; the coconut and fennel seed kulfi with tandoor baked pineapple was itself worth driving to Franschhoek for. It was also vegan. Vanie takes pride in catering to almost any dietary requirement.

Too authentic perhaps to be labelled fine dining, Marigold is fine in every other way, from the exact spicing and attention to detail in every dish, to the comfortable contemporary decor and the excellent service.

 

This article was originally published in one of the Sunday Times Neighbourhood Property and Lifestyle guides. Visit Yourneighbourhood.co.za, like YourNeighbourhoodZA on Facebook and follow YourHoodZA on Twitter.

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