Dinner at Pukka

I thought I posted this 2 weeks ago, the week I posted on four of five week days, but I’ve found it in my drafts…

Recently I attended a media event at mid-town Indian restaurant Pukka – pronounced like “puck-a” –  to sample the the new spring menu. Pukka moved into my old neighbourhood, St. Clair West/Humewood/Hillcrest Village/Wychwood, about a year and a half after I moved out. I’ve been hearing good things about them since they opened. Amy Pataki of the Toronto Star gave the restaurant 3 stars out of 4.

The dinner at Pukka was orchestrated by fellow blogger and Pukka’s Social Media Manager Vicky (MomWhoRuns) for social media influencers and bloggers. The nice thing about such a dinner being organized by a blogger is that she understands challenges that bloggers have at food events. Some of those challenges are related to food photography. And so, while us guests were greeted with prosecco with pomegranate seeds and some pakoras to nibble on, wait staff was setting up what was essentially a photo shoot. We’d been given a table in the front window and, being April, there was still sunlight at 6:30pm. One of each dish that we’d be served was set up on the table for us to photograph. Challenges this solved:

  1. We’d get natural sunlight with ample opportunity to get a great shot.
  2. Food photographs wouldn’t get in the way of the natural flow of eating and conversation. We could eat without concern about documenting our food.

I recently heard about a blogger who, between each course at a restaurant, took her dishes to the washroom to photograph. I don’t recall if it was local or not, but I recall the online ridicule.

Very wise.

We were then served family style, platters of food to share. It was all very good, some outstanding, most wonderfully creative.

I didn’t take much in the way of notes except for a few tasting notes scrawled on my menu.


Under the category of “snacks”…

Bitter greens and paneer

Described as “greens, crumbled paneer, spiced pumpkin seeds + chilli-orange vinaigrette”, I really like the sweet and spicy flavour combination, referring to it as “interesting”. The dish was gorgeous with its range of colours. ($9.50)


Bitter Greens + Paneer from Pukka in Toronto

Bitter greens and paneer

Sweet potato samosa

With coriander-mint chutney.  ($7.40)


Samosas from Pukka in Toronto

Pukka Samosas

Tawa monkfish

Described as “Mango, tomato + red pepper sambal”, this was one of my favourites with nice, bright flavours ($11.90)

Tawa monkfish from Pukka in Toronto

Tawa monkfish

Tandoori chicken tikka

Described as “herb-infused + tamarind chutney”. It was green, for a different take on the usual tamarind chutney. ($12.80)

Tandoori chicken tikka from Pukka in Toronto

Tandoori chicken tikka

Under the category of “eats”…

South Indian vegetable curry

coconut, tamarind + mustard seed curry. This was a beautiful dish.  (15.60)

South Indian vegetable curry from Pukka in Toronto

South Indian vegetable curry

Butter chicken

I thought it was a really nice touch that the butter chicken was served in a pot that retained the heat. ($17.90)

Butter chicken from Pukka in Toronto

Butter chicken

Seared spiced duck breast

grape + lime chutney ($21.80)

Another pretty presentation. The duck was from Quebec. I imagine it said “Oui” a lot (’cause to me, the Quebecois way of saying “Oui” often sounds like quacking).

Seared spiced duck breast from Pukka Toronto

Seared spiced duck breast


Fiddle heads + paneer

wok-tossed with garam masala ($12.80)

Fiddle heads are a sign of spring. Although I couldn’t find out where the fiddle heads were harvested, it gave me hope.


fiddleheads and paneer from Pukka Toronto

fiddleheads and paneer

Okra fries

crispy red chilli crust + raita ($8.50)

If you don’t like okra because of the slime, this is the preparation method for you. A friend who lives in South Carolina, whom I met in St. Lucia, told me that she dries her okra out in the oven on cookie sheets, low and slow. It never worked for me. Okra fries do work for me. I also don’t have a problem with the slime factor, though. When I was young my mother went through a phase in which okra was part of her repertoire. One day I was feeling giggly – possibly overtired – and laughed myself sore over the fact that okra is slimy on the inside and furry on the outside. By all descriptions it shouldn’t be enjoyable. That slime, by the way, makes it good for digestion. It lubricates your digestive tract. I know this because I learned it from Meghan, who facilitated that St. Lucia meeting. In fact the conversation was probably the result of being served coconut okra soup. I’ve shared this post and recipe many times since it was posted in early 2010. It comes out during summer CSA season.

Okra Fries from Pukka Toronto

Okra Fries

Basmati rice served in a jar at Pukka Toronto

I loved how the rice was served and although I’m not a cardamon fan, I didn’t mind the pods scattered through the rice.

Dessert trio…

Dessert trio from Pukka in Toronto:  chocolate mousse cake, eton mess, carrot cake

Dessert trio

Carrot cake with candied carrot strands + curry creme fraiche ($8.20)

Chocolate mousse cake – chili white chocolate mousse, salted cocoa caramel + blood orange segments ($8.80)


Eton mess – grand marnier yogurt cream, drunk orange segments, orange blossom meringues + pomegrante ($9.2)

A closer look…

 carrot cake at pukka Toronto

carrot cake

eton mess at Pukka Toronto

eton mess

Chocolate mousse cake at Pukka Toronto

Chocolate mousse cake – full serving for photo opp

All three were excellent! The meringues in the Eton mess reminded me of toffee.

Wonderful wines

Pukka currently has 30 wines on their list but is hoping to double that. Sommelier Peter Boyd masterfully pairs wines with Indian food. In pairing the wines with Indian food, Peter shared that “fruit trumps everything”. I enjoyed both wines a lot.

The Austrian Rabl Gruner Veltliner, a white, gave off a whiff of vanilla, and some… grass? It was dry and fruity and worked with the bright flavours of the salad and monkfish. ($14.95 at the LCBO)

The Domaine Des Lauribert Côtes du Rhône, a red, was brilliant. Tabacco on the nose, vanilla, cherry, blackberry and brown sugar. This one was a blend of grenache and syrrah. I know little about wine but I know that grenache is juicy. ($15.95 at the LCBO)

Fruit trumps everything, indeed.

At one point I was sitting next to wine blogger Krista Lamb who tweeted,

and then tweeted, “Kudos to – such good wine and Indian food pairings tonight” and “ is doing some really impressive things at . Amazing to see emphasis on wine.”

Blogger Cayla tweeted, “Who knew that Indian food & wine could be so fascinating? Or maybe it’s just how tells it.”

Pukka’s monthly wine series

Boyd is going to be doing a monthly wine series at Pukka, a set menu with pairing at $50 per guest. Read about it here.


778 St Clair W., 416-342-1906, pukka.ca, @pukkatoronto

Pukka on Urbanspoon

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One Response to “Dinner at Pukka”

  1. May 20, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    What a great blog post Andrea. Thrilled to hear you enjoyed your meal at Pukka and thanks for the shout out!

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