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Restaurant Review: Indian Desi Affair – Downtown Barrhaven

Today, I inaugurate our new restaurant reviews feature with a visit to a truly authentic Northern Indian restaurant – right in our own backyard! Why go to India to experience the food? You can get the real deal at Indian Desi Affair, 7 days a week!

Indian Desi Affair - © 2023 - maggiejs.caModest store front, big Asian experience! Indian Desi Affair is ‘An Affair To Remember’!

The Indian Desi Affair

What is ‘Desi’?

Before we get into the food, you’ll need a primer of the meaning of the word ‘Desi’. Wikipedia says it’s: “…a loose Hindi term used to describe the Indic people, cultures, and products of the Indian subcontinent and their diaspora, derived from Sanskrit meaning ‘land, country’. Desi traces its origin to the Indic people of the South Asian republics of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and may also sometimes include people from Sri Lanka, Nepal, the Maldives and Bhutan.”

As you might, therefore, expect, the Indian Desi Affair (IDA) menu features what at first might seem a curious blend of cuisines and preparation styles. For a start there’s a prominent Indo-Chinese section focusing on hot, spicy dishes. And you know you’re going to get an authentic selection of Desi food, just from the expansive Vegetarian section. It’s larger, in fact, than any other single subdivision of the menu!

Authentic ambience

Behind Indian Desi Affair’s unassuming street face hides a complete Asian dining experience. When you open the inner door of the brightly painted weather lock you’re welcomed with a rush of spicy aromas that set the stage for the meal to come. Close your eyes, inhale – and you’ll swear you’re in Mumbai.

The bright, modern dining room is cozy and welcoming, with the sort of family feel that is so appropriate for true Asian dining. Service is friendly and prompt, but unrushed. And the fresh Naan bread is always hot…

Our first IDA experience

I was very impressed, right off the bat, when I opened the take-out bag containing our unassuming-sounding ‘Combo C’ meal. Right on top of the usual plastic containers was a foil-wrapped stack of hot, fresh Naan. Real Naan. IDA has an authentic Tandoori oven! They make good use of that oven, offering an array of authentic grilled dishes – no fewer then 11 skewered specialties.

The Affair Mix Grill is a meal in itself! Tandoori Chicken, Malia Tikka, Chicken Tikka, Lamb Sheekh Kabab and even Fish Tikka. It’s just @25.99 and will easily serve three or 4 with (Basmati) Rice ($2.99) and Naan ($2.99) on the side.

Our ‘Combo C’ ($50.) was described in the menu as a Dinner for 2. But I can report, with confidence, that there was enough food for three or four diners. Especially if you order an extra side of Naan. They have 8 varieties to choose from – plus Parathas and Roti! Erin and I each enjoyed 2 great meals out of our ‘Combo C’. That’s a very reasonable $12.50 per serving. And we chose the most expensive Combo on the menu to evaluate.

The meat of the issue

This is the first Subcontinental resto I’ve visited (anywhere close to home) that offers not only Chicken, Lamb and Fish, but also Goat dishes. The full, authentic Indo-protein menu. I admire the folks behind IDA for taking the initiative to secure a reliable source of fresh Goat. If you’ve never tried Goat, make your first time a Goat Curry or Goat Masala from IDA. The familar flavours of either spice style will help you evaluate the unique nuances of Goat as they come through.


I found the flavours of the dishes in ‘Combo C’ bold, rich  and… Just what I wanted! The Chicken Pakora were large, ultra-crispy and just spicy enough to tingle on the tongue. The herbs in the coating batter came through beautifully. The Steamed Rice (obligatory with any Indian meal) was al denté chewy with a hint of sweetness, and every grain was separate. Just right.

The Lamb Curry was a treat. I could distinguish all the different spices separately on my palate, as well as in an orchestra of flavour, depending on the sensory mode I chose to undulge. The large chunks of Lamb were so tender, I could cut them with my spoon. IDA’s Butter Chicken was equally good, the flavour standing out big and bold, and nicely balanced.

What impressed me most was the level of heat in both dishes. The Butter Chicken was perfectly spiced. The lady on the phone who took out order asked of I wanted the curry ‘mild, medium or hot?’ As a precaution, I chose medium. And it was perfect for us. Although some folks might consider it ‘hot’. Even the degrees of hotness IDA serves up are truly authentic!

The final word…

I suspect it will take as many as a dozen trips to Indian Desi Experience (or the same number of take-outs) to fully appreciate the depth and breadth of their fascinating menu. Why go all the way to India to experience the food? You can get the real deal – in all it’s complexity and variety – at Indian Desi Affair, 1581 Greenbank Rd., in the Farm Boy strip mall…

Lunch and Dinner. Catering Available. Allergy-aware. MasterCard, VISA, Interac.

Order for delivery via: UBER Eats – Skip The Dishes – DoorDash.

Phone: 613-843-9559

~ Maggie J.