Masala Cafe Revisited

There’s been a lot of discussion here in Ankara since I wrote my first post about Masala Cafe.  That was April 2010, shortly after my arrival to this great city.  As you may recall, (or can see from that review), I loved the restaurant!

Outdoor Dining at Masala Cafe

The restaurant is located in my neighborhood, so I frequented it many times.  I even enjoyed free delivery to my home.  But eventually, the food went downhill.  I was so disappointed, that I kept trying it.  Takeout.  Lunch Buffet.  Home delivery. Everything was bad.

I had in the mean time learned that the restaurant had inherited new owners in May 2011, Amir and Nadia Sheikh.  I wondered if that had been the problem.  Trying again in August and September 2011, I hated it.

But I kept receiving comments and emails that indicated otherwise.  I even received a message from the owners.  It seems things were rough in the beginning (as it always is with new businesses.)  In addition, the couple had a baby around the same time.  I’m sure that kept their attention diverted.  Congratulations to them!

So last night, I set out to Masala for an early dinner.  Long story short – the restaurant has done a complete 360!  I am happy to report that the food is back to its 4/2010 levels – excellent!

My husband and I enjoyed Vegetable Samosas (puff pastry filled with potato and spices) and Keema Samosas (a pastry filled with beef).  They were delicious.  I had one minor suggestion regarding the appetizers.  They are served only with a yogurt dip.  One of the reasons I love Pakistani and Indian food is the chutneys!  I would love to see mint chutney, an onion chutney, and a tamarind chutney on the table.  I truly missed those.  I was told mango chutney was available at an additional charge, but it was long after my samosas had moved on to another world.

Decorative Brass Box Containing the Evening’s Tab

In addition to that suggestion, I did have a complaint on the size of those portions compared to the price.  The vegetable samosa was about 1/3 the size of what one would see in the States.  With only two per serving, 4.50 TL is pretty high.  Let’s face it, potatoes here are cheap!

The Keema Samosa was also very small with only two per serving.  At 5.50TL, I would suggest 3 of them on the plate.

The dinners were excellent!  We shared a curry, Karahi Gosht with lamb (14.50) and a grill, Chicken Tikka (12.50 TL).  No complaints there!  Both were served with basmati rice and a Turkish-style Sheperd Salad (tomatoes, peppers, onions, cucumbers in lemon).

I’ve noticed in Turkey that food is always delivered to the table when it is ready.  I didn’t want us to feel rushed by getting our dinners and apps at the same time, so we ordered our entrees after finishing our appetizers.  This method didn’t seem to work out for us.  It took quite a while to receive our dinner, even though we were the only customers.  This was interesting, although not really a problem for us, since we were told that the Murgh Malai-Tikka (grilled marinated chicken breast in yogurt and spices) would take about 40 minutes, so we didn’t order it.  We also skipped the Dum Sheeekh Kabab as the menu indicated that would take 30 minutes.

The only true difference I noted from my first visit was that the free appetizer were cut in half.  They still serve lovely chips with nigella and cardamom seeds (I believe) and a side serving of a yogurt dip.  The second dip has disappeared, as has the lovely chick pea salad.

As for service, our waiter was great!  He was Turkish, but tried his best to communicate with me in English. (The menu is in both Turkish and English.) He is also one of the few Turkish servers that have ever returned to my table to check whether I needed anything and how I was enjoying my meal.  Kudos!

My apologies to the owners for not stopping into the kitchen to say hello.  I really wanted to try the restaurant again without tipping you off.  I’m glad I did.  I enjoyed it and will be back to meet you and try the buffet again.

Masala Cafe
Paris Cd. Şili Meydan 49-E, Çankaya, Ankara
(near the French Embassy and across from the Japanese Culture Center)
T: 0312 4286060-67

Read my earlier review with photos by clicking here.

16 thoughts on “Masala Cafe Revisited

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  1. Thanks for posting this, Terry! My husband and I had been looking for someplace special to celebrate our anniversary next weekend, and we LOVE Indian food! Definitely going here!

  2. . . we’d love to find a decent Indian/Pakistani restaurant out here in the sticks – there’s been a couple of attempts that have been utter disasters. Keep hoping!

  3. And of course I have to be the one to point out if the restaurant did a 360, then it’s the same! Perhaps a 180? 😉

  4. Joni says “we’re definitely going here” above, so I guess we are! Thanks for the timely post. I had considered Spice as well but see your post and comments on it. It’s a shame there aren’t better choices. What about the sushi joint in GOP, we’ve heard good things about it. Is it on your “to try” list?

    1. Hi Donelda! Thanks for reading the blog! The answer is yes and no. There was Spice in GOP. An Australian guy opened it. There were mixed reviews and I personally did not like it. Not sure if it is still there. Allegedly he left and someone else was running it but he was there still when I visited. Good luck! Perhaps you should pop into the Embassy of India and ask them. Maybe they will invite you in for lunch. 🙂 (I’m always working it! LOL)

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