If you love Indian flavours and spices but tired of eating routine butter chicken or fish pakora, here is an option to try something new, less greasy but equally or in some dishes more flavourful than a typical Indian menu. Cayenne Bistro and Grill, located along 6th street in Burnaby, boasts of fusion food from East Africa and India. The beauty of this fusion does not exist in mixing tastes but in the owner cum chef’s capability to offer both Indian and African cuisine from the same kitchen and still maintaining the authenticity of flavours from two different continents.
Started a year ago by Zeimina Bharmal, Cayenne Bistro was her dream come true. Originally born in Kampala and brought up in Sweden, Zeimina brings with her fusion flavours of a family with Indian lineage from Africa. She was inspired by her mother’s cooking at a very young age and always nurtured a dream to open a restaurant. With Cayenne Bistro, she wanted to bring her passion for cooking and advantage of multicultural upbringing on the table.
Zeimina, with the help of her family, has put together a refreshing honesty not only in the dishes but in the place too. You are treated with warm hospitality from the owner, the servers and a relaxing interior once you enter the Bistro. Unlike typical restaurant interiors, there are no figurines or paintings from Africa or India to give customers a taste of cultures. Only food does the talking. The interiors are deliberately kept modern, stylish yet simple to offer a relaxed ambiance. The countertop is full of sweet savories of Africa and baked cakes flaunting Zeimina’s European upbringing.
Once we settled down with our family, we were treated with refreshing Masala Chai. While we took our own sweet time to enjoy the tea, generous big glasses of Mango Shakes arrived that left us craving for more food. For those daunted by trying different cuisines, the menu included helpful explanations about the food. The restaurant focuses on several traditional East African vegetarian and meaty platters and Indian dishes. We wanted to try a vegetarian starter so they customized it for us. A regular platter features Samosa, fried beef kababs, Nylon Bhajia or Mogo.
Our platter came with crispy thin layered Samosas that were loaded with mixed vegetables like carrots, potatoes peas and corn sautéed in spices and muster seeds. It also included fried cassava known as Mogo, crispy from the outside and soft from inside seasoned with different spices, it was almost like eating a healthier version of fries. The Nylon Bhajiya or potato fritters were thin and perfectly sliced. Another item on our platter was Daal Bhajiya — a mixture of lentils, beans, onions with fresh herbs and spices that can serve as a healthier option for Aloo Tikki lovers. Cayenne Chana Bateta, Cayenne Appy Prawns and Bhel Puri are some other options for appetizers that you can try along with platters.
In the main course, we decided to order another specialty platter which was the perfect combo of Beef Ribs, Mishkaki (Tender beef skewers, marinated with a fusion of East African and Indian Spices) and choice of Kuku Choma the Chicken tenders marinated in yogurt, herbs, and spices; Peri Peri Chicken or Chicken Serena. Chicken Serena is a specialty of this place where juicy chicken tenders are first marinated with East African spices and the same marination is drizzled over the chicken while serving.
The curries too have options for Indian and African palate. We decided to treat ourselves with both. Under East African specialty, we ordered the Zanzibar Kuku Paka. The dish has pieces of chicken first barbequed and then cooked in a creamy coconut milk-based curry with East African Spices. A hard-boiled egg and chunks of potatoes add an extra kick to the gravy.
To add Indian flavours on our table, we ordered the chef’s special Kashmiri Chicken which had boneless chicken marinated with herbs and spices. Cooked with Cayenne tomato sauce, the Kashmiri chicken turned out to be a nice departure from a typical butter chicken gravy that could easily satisfy those who are looking for creamy flavors without much butter and heat. Both of the gravies came with Naan and Rice. The chicken in both the dishes was fully cooked but not tough and chewy. It fell apart softly.
Beef Khichdo, Beef Akni, Masala fish and daal are some other curries worth giving a try. The owner has kept the menu small and precise for a reason. “I did not want to overload the customers with 100s of items. We started with a modest menu to control the quality and freshness and keep on evolving our menu according to demand and tastes of the customers,” Zeimina said. Masala fish was one of such delightful additions that was part of daily special and due to the demand made it to the permanent menu list.
When you go try to check their daily specials written on a board. It could be anything from the menu or some new dish that comes straight from Chef Zeimina’s heart and then served from her kitchen. The dessert menu too offers a balanced variety of Indian, European and African food. Gulab Jamun and Kulfi (Indian style ice-cream) are all made in house. Makate Mimina, a cake made with coconut and rice cake; Mandazi & Bharazi (another East African snacks) are some other items on the menu that will give you all the reasons to try Cayenne Bistro’s food.
Dine-in and take out, Cayenne Bistro also specializes in catering private parties and events, that serves Halal meat.
We left happy and satisfied with an experience like having a relaxed Sunday Lunch at a friend’s house and something worth repeating.
Cayenne Bistro and Grill, 7677 6TH Street, Burnaby
firstname.lastname@example.org, 604 553 7866
Review by Surbhi Gogia