Ok, firstly a confession: it turns out that the most northerly curry house was different to the one I blogged about before my trip. I’d initially written about Shalimar, but realised on the plane over that Lonely Planet’s alternative suggestion of Austur-Indiafjelagid was the correct owner of the title. It’s been bringing Indian food to Icelandic people since 1994 and counts Harrison Ford amongst its happy customers, so who was I to argue with facts as good as these?
My friend Katherine and I set out to visit on our first night in Reykjavik, with rumbling stomachs and the craving for a decent naan bread that only fellow curry addicts can really appreciate (none of that microwave rubbish, thanks – it needs to be pillow-soft, thin and slightly sweet).
Walking down Hverfisgata, I stopped to take a photo of an intricate wooden door with a green tinge, which turned out to be the place itself; aside from that unusual door, there isn’t much to stop you in your tracks from the outside. No bells and whistles, no cardboard cut-out of Harrison Ford with his thumbs up. This restaurant doesn’t need to boast.
As we visited during shoulder season, with a few weeks before all the tourist attractions and activities are open for summer, we seemed to be the only tourists there, but there were plenty of locals sitting down to enjoy a curry and a beer. When we saw the variety of the menu, it was clear why they’d want to be repeat customers – there were loads of different dishes to try, from lobster to veggie options with broccoli and cauliflower. Rajasthani flavours mingled with South Indian specialities (the head chef is from the south of India) and it was pretty hard to narrow down the shortlist.
Eventually I plumped for a Murg Makhani, with tomatoes, fenugreek, ginger and cream, whilst Katherine chose a Kozhin Mappas, which included garam masala, turmeric and coconut milk. Mine was like a stronger and smoother Chicken Tikka Masala, with a rich tomato base, whereas the Kozhin Mappas was basically a Korma with more of a kick. In both cases, we were really impressed.
Unlike most curry houses I’ve been to in the UK, rice was free and refills were constantly being brought out, but the naans and other side dishes were more expensive to counteract this. When we tasted them, we couldn’t care how much they cost – I can honestly say these were the best naan breads I’ve ever had, particularly the garlic version, which almost melted in my mouth. I’d go one better and say that also surpassed all the garlic bread I’ve eaten, too (and I’ve probably had more of that than you’ve had hot dinners). Those of you going gluten-free can upgrade to a spelt naan instead, so there’s no need for you to miss out.
Sadly, with portions this generous and food this delicious, there was no way that either of us could even contemplate pudding, but that just gives us even more of a justification for a second visit in the future.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Austur-Indiafjelagid, whether you’re a curry queen or you’ve never had one before and you’re just keen to see what all the fuss is about. As someone who can easily be fobbed off with cheap meals, I’m no foodie snob, but this was truly a cut above and was worth every krona we paid. And let’s face it, if you don’t want to trust my opinion, Indiana Jones’ recommendation might just sway it for you.
Hverfisgata 56, 101 Reykjavik