Al Mehran, Durban, South Africa
Durban has a rich tradition of Sub-Continental food. Indeed, all things from the Sub-Continent, with the city often referred to as the largest Indian city outside of India because the majority of the 1.3 million Indians who live in the country reside here. Most were brought to South Africa as indentured workers in the 1800s although there were some slaves before this and some ‘paid-for’ passengers afterwards. Mahatma Gandhi worked and lived in the tropical city during his time in South Africa.
The large Al Mehran is run by Bangladeshis from Dhaka, and although it’s smart enough there a busy canteen feel to it with a steady flow of diners constantly tucking into tasty, well-proportioned dishes of their favourite spicy food. Although I caught the end of the evening there was no problem and the food was served quickly and without fuss.
On recommendation from my waiter I had Keema Fry (R46.40), a variation of one of my current curry favourites. It was nice and meaty and certainly drier than the normal Keema Curry – so many mince curries can be too mushy and sloppy. It was also nicely spiced to order (it can made ‘mild’, ‘medium’ or ‘hot’ depending on your preference) and was served with pilau rice. I added chapati roti (R5.90).
The choice of Indian dishes is decent enough if fairly limited and you won’t find too many of the old-school favourites that are so popular in the restaurants in Britain (don’t worry, there are few like CTM, a range of biryanis and Aloo Mutter). But there are certainly a few that look worth trying, such as Al-Mehran Baby Chicken Masala (R76.90), Sheep’s Brain Masala (R64.90), Mutton Chops Masala (R74.90) and, of course, Durban’s signature dish Bunny Chow – curry in a loaf of bread that has been scooped out. You can choose from chicken, mutton or vegetable fillings and sizes are quarters, halves or full. Prices vary from R32.90 for a quarter vegetable to R96.90 for a full mutton.
• £1 = approx R15.50 and $1 = R9.90 at the time of the visit.
Al Mehran, 191 Marine Parade, North Beach, Durban, South Africa. Tel: +27 (0)31 332 5127. Open: daily till about 10pm. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The scores on the tandoors
Atmosphere (late Sunday) 5⃣
Service and friendliness 7⃣