We imagined a scenario in which the center of the city continued to decline and activities previously thought of as urban began to take place in the suburbs.--P. Keiller, London
It's funny, because I'd just been bugging Michelle about what she thought her chances of finding heaven on earth were earlier that day. God knows why. Who would've guessed we'd find a little piece of it in the most unlikely of places just hours later.
That godforsaken location was the stretch of Boulevard des Sources* that separates Dollard des Ormeaux from Roxboro. To be more specific, it was a restaurant in the bleak looking strip mall that sits on the southeast corner of Boulevard des Sources and Gouin: Bombay Choupati.
Despite the fact that Montreal's Indian population in particular, and its South Asian population in general, is just a fraction of the size of that of either Toronto or Vancouver, Montreal is not without its gems when it comes to Indian cuisine. Those of you who know us, and those of you who've read "...an endless banquet" closely, will know that we're especially huge fans of Malhi Sweets on Jarry. But as much as we love our Indian haunts, they all tend to specialize in North Indian cuisines, and from time to time we find ourselves craving the unattainable: Keralan cuisine with its wonderful fruit and yogurt sauces, Goan fish curries, etc. Although we know of a couple of places that offer an extremely limited South Indian repertoire, what we craved most of all was a place that specialized in South Indian fare, but, to be honest, we'd pretty much given up hope. Then we received an interesting tip from our friendly neighborhood Touilleuse. It took us a while to organize a ride out to Boulevard des Sources, but finally our arrangements came together.
And, ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I announce that Bombay Choupati is a real find. Not only does Bombay Choupati serve all our favorite South Indian/Madrasi delights--idli (steamed semolina cakes served in a spicy vegetarian sambar [pictured above], mixed vegetable tikki (spicy potato patties), and, of course, masala dosa (perhaps the quintessential South Indian dish: a lentil-flour crêpe stuffed with a potato curry and accompanied with sambar and coconut chutney—but they’re all among the very best we’ve had anywhere (London, Vancouver, Toronto, Bangalore,** wherever). Other highlights include Bombay-style treats like fruit chat, which showcases both their homemade yogurt (!) and their homemade tamarind chutney (made from fresh tamarinds, not tamarind pulp!). And while the emphasis here is on the vegetarian dishes that form the basis of South Indian cuisine, we were thrilled to discover that their butter chicken is a butter chicken to be reckoned with, one that may very well have raised the bar on butter chicken in this town. Throw in some big-league naan, complete with nigella seeds (a brilliant touch), and prices that are generous to say the least, and you have yourself what can only be described as a stunner of a restaurant, one that's absolutely worth the trek out to Boulevard des Sources.
In the early days of New France an area just to the west of Montreal became known as Lachine because it was thought that if you got past the rapids that sat offshore China wasn't far beyond. These days we know better. We know that the island of Montreal barely qualifies as a gateway to Toronto, let alone China. So we took a different tack. We headed northwest from the city and found our very own passage to India.
Bombay Choupati, 5011 Blvd. des Sources (514) 421-3130, Pierrefonds
* Though I've been hearing about this fabled laneway for years, thanks to the morning traffic reports that my clock/radio wakes me up with weekday mornings, this was the first time I'd had the, uh, pleasure of actually seeing it firsthand. It's a little grim at first, but as you head north towards L'Île-Bizard (talk about a place just begging for some psychic landscaping) you pass a massive, new Adonis supermarket--certainly the biggest, and many say the best, Middle Eastern specialty food stores in the area--and then you start to notice all kinds of interesting Indian, Pakistani, and Asian businesses. Who knew?
**Michelle had the pleasure of going to India a few years back on business. We had our idli and masala dosa for lunch, but as Michelle pointed out these dishes are commonly served for breakfast in South India. In fact, both were served nearly every day for breakfast when she was in Bangalore. She started most mornings with one or the other--expertly prepared, of course--always accompanied by a fresh coconut juice. Rough.