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Garam Masalaa Take-away

There is only one decent, nay fantasticulous, Indian takeaway in Malta. Mona Farrugia thinks it's Garam Masalaa.


 
Garam Masalaa Take-away
Garam Masalaa Take-away
Garam Masalaa Take-away
Garam Masalaa Take-away
Editor rating
 
5.0 User rating
 
4.0 (1)

There is a seminal moment in Sex and the City – the first series, where Carrie can still wear a pink tutu and we actually give a toss – where she draws attention to the fact that in New York, you can eat anything, anywhere, twenty four hours a day. Moreover, you can most probably get it delivered. By a cute guy on a moped.


If Carrie got hungry in Malta she would slash her pink tutu to shreds, ditch the Manolos  and drown herself in gallons of Cosmopolitans. The take-away situation is not just dire, it is horrific. You can get anything to take away, but all of it will be awful. Frozen and defrosted (and consecutively microwaved) burgers, pizzas given the same treatment, pizzas lined with industrial ‘cheese’ which you would not want to look in the eye the moment it goes cold and a non-stop selection of kebab houses all selling the same thing. Not to mention the infamous Wudi sausage roll which we have turned into our national dish. Most takeaways do not deliver. The ones which do I’m not interested in.


When I was doing up houses in Sliema (lord; is that actually plural?) I got into the habit of calling Pizza Hut (also known, in some circles, as ‘pizza w hut’) for a delivery. This always amounted to moments fraught with great tension: will they, won’t they, will it, won’t it?  The pizza always eventually turned up: slightly cold in spite of the many thermal wrappings, sitting prettily on that odd little plastic table, waiting to be eaten rather than wielding a fork and knife. That table made it human.


It was nothing if not disgustingly good, and made to be eaten instantly as, if approached later, it would attack back with its highly manufactured ingredients, including that ‘cheese’, about which entire analyses have been made and studies written.


Once the ridiculously expensive kitchen made its way through the front door with its just-drying 10-year, multi-layer Dulux paint (which cracks after two years: how does one claim against that kind of guarantee? Do I take the door to the ICI centre?), there was no longer any excuse to spend all that money on take-aways, so the call-outs stopped.


Years later, as The Writer and I have hit that moment when we’re way too exhausted to cook, but honestly cannot stomach going out to a restaurant (my make-up has faded, his hair has lost its hold although I must add: it is still all there) we find ourselves bereft of a single, decent takeaway. Our closest is a Micky D’s: literally scores of cars line up from early in the morning for its ‘wholesome goodness’ drive-thru ‘food’. The last (and only) time we joined them, I was stunned at the bizarreness of the process – shout at a machine, be answered by a human, line up in car, girl dashes out with stuff in bags, eat in five minutes, feel hungry in another five. ‘Never again’ I told TW, who was laughing at my wonder.


Then we discovered Garam Masalaa. There was no process with Garam. They have no website. There is no shouting at the machine. So I got my hands on Katherine and Sunil’s mobile number. Picking up a take-away is never an easy task and it requires dexterity and resolution of mind and body.


I call them at 5pm so that possibly, at 7pm, I can pick up and leave. ‘We’re at the supermarket’ Katherine says. ‘I’ll try and remember!’. When I drive up – there is always a space somewhere near the Msida church to plonk the car – the food is never, ever ready. So Katherine opens a bottle of Cobra for me. She makes us relax, which, when you think about it, is quite lovely. In 80% of cases, they forget to put in one of the items I would have bleated down the mobile line. We usually realise this at home, when we find out there are no lentils, or – horror of horrors – no kulfi. Obviously by then, it is too late to go back, especially since we live on the other side of the island.


From anybody else, this would be unacceptable. From them, we take it. We do for several reasons but the two most important ones are that at this point, Katherine and Sunil are our adoptive culinary aunt and uncle, and the fact that nobody, but nobody in Malta can create the kind of genuine, wonderful, fragrant, well-balanced and well-spiced curries that Sunil can produce out of that little kitchen.


Most take-aways, including 90% of kebab-house fare, stinks the car by the time you get home. Come on admit it: you do give the alpine cardboard tree a couple of slaps in order to drown out that stink, don’t you? With the Garam Masalaa stuff, all the fragrance serves to do is break your heart by the time you arrive. You really, but really want to demolish it.


In my first review of GM a couple of years ago – I apparently was the first writer to discover them – I had said that the place looks horrible. Thank goodness that is no longer the case: the yellow has been muted down, the primary colours taken away and the place given a spruce up. It’s not the Berkeley but it will definitely do.


My favourite curry is their Chicken Pasanda. I don’t like chicken in general, and I hate the sponginess of cheap chicken especially, but the way Sunil cooks that fowl, drenching it in wonderful coconut, a good sprinkling of nuts, currants or raisins, is my idea of absolute heaven. We adore his lamb with ginger, the real thing, the root, shredded finely and accompanied by fistfuls of onions. I have never, ever found a crap piece of lamb surrounded by gristle in his curries.


I wish they had the time to specialise in some finesse, which requires sourcing and more than one family to handle. Then they would make dishes such as Black Dhaal. But they don’t. Instead, they make a wonderful yellow one. The reason their food tastes different from every single other ‘Indian’ in Malta is that they roast and grind their own spices, and they know how to choose those. Some time ago I suggested they start bottling and selling their own mixes. They still have not taken this idea up. I’ll wait. Waiting is the thing with Garam.


Talking of spices, another huge plus point for me is that at Garam Masalaa ‘mild, medium and strong’ are not just some silly depicted pepper but a reflection of love blended into the meat and what the Indians call ‘gravy’. Sunil now knows what we like (basically a punchy level of medium, enough to jostle us out of our stupor, but not enough to annihilate our throat).


I also buy raw basmati rice from them: it is fresher and more fragrant than anything Tilda sells and since it only takes 5 minutes to cook, we don’t even buy any ready-boiled in the takeaway.


Depending on how hungry we are, a take-away for two usually costs anything between €25 and €35 and cheaper than eating in the restaurant as you are not paying for overheads. That includes three meat dishes (packed with meat rather than just sauce), my favourite paneer pasanda (spinach with local irkotta – they do not try to pretend it is the real Indian paneer and I salute them for their honesty), The Writer’s chickpeas, and a couple of kulfis (if they remember to put them into the bag).


The food, complete with Dexter or Frasier, pets at our feet, is our idea of home bliss.


The take-away situation in Malta may be absolutely dire, but hey, with Garam Masalaa there, the one decent Indian take-away happens to be fantastic. Thank a selection of Hindu gods for that.

Additional Information

Location

Address 11, Msida Seafront
Town Msida
Country Malta

Restaurant

Cuisine IndianTakeaway
Opening Hours Summer

Eat in:
Tuesday - Saturday, from 7 - 11pm

Take out:
Call Tuesday - Thursday, from 5.30 - 10.30pm
Friday - Saturday, from 5.30 to 8.00pm

Winter
Eat in:
Monday - Saturday, from 7 - 11pm
Sunday - 12.30pm - 3.00pm

Take out:
Call Monday - Thursday, from 5.30 - 10.30pm
Friday - Saturday, from 5.30 to 8.00pm
Sunday - 11.30am - 2.00pm

Contact Details

Contact Number +356 27340489
Contact Number +356 99021882

Map

 

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Mona Farrugia
August 19, 2010
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5 of 6 people found the comment helpful
 
 

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Rating:
 
4.0   (1)
 
 
Rating:
 
4.0
Charmaine Apap
August 23, 2010
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I agree about the lovely food but must say that all the times I have ordered a takeaway (and they have been many) I hav rarely waited and never found any missing items. I would also like to comment on how lovely a person Katherine is, very sweet.

 
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Chris
August 23, 2010
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You may say that again about the take-away (and *especially* delivery) situation in Malta being dire. One of the many things I miss here ... And yes Garam Masalaa (thanks to you for pointing that one many aeons ago) is practically our only take-away option.

Seriously though, if anyone were to operate an honest-to-goodness delivery (with food to match, obviously) they'd make a killing.

 
 
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