Cool temperatures mean a return to hearty, slow cooked meals. But rather than reach for a bowl of beef stew, or a pot of chili, our thoughts turned to the comfort of a warm, rich curry. So we headed to downtown Oshawa’s Spicy Affairs to get our fix.
Spicy Affairs is a small, family-owned restaurant on King Street West, and it’s bustling on a Saturday night. We had made reservations for 6:30 pm, and arrived to a nearly-full restaurant. Our table was a window seat (good) but directly beside the entrance (bad), as we felt an Arctic blast every time the door opened. The homey decor wasn’t fancy, but the restaurant comfortable, warm (barring when the front door opened, of course!), with a lively atmosphere. Laughter regularly punctuated the air.
Wisely, the owners have kept the menu simple, offering a thoughtful selection of appetizers, vegetarian dishes, curries, chef’s specials, rice dishes, tandoori, and soups and salads, with a straightforward description beside each dish. For those new to Indian cuisine, this restaurant will guide you though it.
To start, we ordered the Chef’s Platter ($13) – a sample plate with hara chicken tikka, vegetable samosa, vegetable pakora and paneer tikka. The dish arrived quickly, with generous chunks of the moist, green hara chicken tikka marinade and shreds of beet root brightening an otherwise decidedly brown plate of food. But the samosas had been made with care – the potatoes were diced very small, which, along with the peas, were spiced nicely inside the compact bundle of pastry. The paneer tikka (cheese with green pepper, onion and tomatoes marinated in chickpea flour, yogurt and aromatic spices, then cooked in a clay oven), was moist inside and full of flavour. But the vegetable pakora was on the dry side, having spent a tad too long in the fryer.
To combat the chilly autumn night, we ordered two curries: Goan Shrimp Curry Shrimp ($12), chicken tikka masala ($10), two garlic naan breads ($1.50 each), and a bowl of basmati rice to share ($3).
The chicken tikka was generously sized, with big, chunks of most chicken breast in a rusty orange coloured tomato, onion and cream sauce, perfect for sopping up with pieces of naan or forkfulls of rice. In the seafood curry, ten huge shrimp sat in a subtle green sauce made of coconut cream with mustard seed, dark green curry leaves and a blend of herbs and spices.
Both curries were fantastic. The chicken and the shrimp had been cooked perfectly, and the sauces were subtle on the heat, but smooth, warming, and flavourful. It was autumn comfort food at its best, with the basmati rice and homemade naan bread soaking up the extra sauce.
Throughout our visit, the staff were friendly, helpful and attentive. But next time (and there will be a next time!), we’ll reserve a seat further from the door!
Spicy Affairs is located at 84 King Street West. Dinner for two, with two glasses of house wine, tax, and tip, was $70.