Anantha Bhavan: Light your tongue on fire!
4646 Heritage Hills Blvd., Unit 15, Mississauga, ON
I didn’t think my first ever Srilankan food experience would be in Mississauga, but it turns out there’s a popular Srilankan and South Indian take-out restaurant in a multicultural plaza right outside the suburbs of Mississauga.
I honestly have never ever in my entire life tasted food as spicy as this. Actually, I could barely taste any of the flavours of the items because for the most part, my tongue had transformed into a throbbing, heated fire ball.
To start, we ordered a few of the savoury pastries that were on display behind the counter. Some potato croquettes and a spicy donut. Both were only mildly spicy. The potato croquette was slightly curried and was speckled with lots of peppery, smoky and hot chili spices. The texture of the donut was firmer than Western donuts.
The mutton rotti was my favourite. A buttery, flaky rotti bread wrapped around a moist and juicy mutton filling. The meat was gamey, spicy and tender.
We also ordered the mutton roll which was filled with a big slab of spicy mutton meat along with some chili infused potatoes, all rolled up in a crispy shell and deep fried. I loved that we got a whole piece of mutton meat in this roll. The mutton in the rotti was ground up and seasoned.
Next, we ordered what I had assumed was a mild veggie curry. It even smelled manageable, spice-wise, when I cracked open the take-out container. But upon my first spoonful, my tongue immediately lit on fire. Seriously, flames might as well have been bursting from my mouth because that’s what it felt like. I can’t even tell you what the curry tasted like because the spices had paralyzed my taste buds. And the thing about these types of fire ball, extremely hot spices is that water is powerless to douse the flames. I needed something with dairy in it, milk, yogurt, ice cream. ANYTHING! Finally, we found some yogurt in the fridge. I desperately scooped up a giant tablespoon of it and just splatted it on my tongue and held it there. I didn’t even dare swallow it until my tongue had cooled down. It literally took 10 minutes.
We had ordered some puttu to mix in with the curry. Puttu, I learned was rice, ground up and shaped into cylinders, then coated with coconut. I tried a little bit of it with the curry. For me, it didn’t distract from the spiciness in the curry at all but I think to a normal person it might. The puttu itself doesn’t exactly have any flavour whatsoever, the coconut coating is not sweetened or flavoured. The texture is a bit dry but it was great for adsorbing all the curry if you dare.
Lastly, we ordered another equally death-defying spicy dish: veggie rotti. Basically, rotti bread is chopped up and fried with spices and vegetables. The texture of the fried bread is interesting and appealing, chewy and light. But in a few short seconds of your first bite, the spices in the dish will take over and your tongue will explode. I’m not kidding.
I’ve never had rotti prepared in so many different ways, fried with dishes and used to wrap around savoury fillings. I would love to order from Anantha Bhavan again. But next time, I’ll have a giant tub of cold yogurt beside me.