This weekend is Diwali, the South Asian festival of lights. What better time to explore the fiery and fanciful in sub-continental cuisine. Here are my top picks for dining in and out.

Delivery King
689 East 65 Ave

For nights when both cooking and going out are equally impossible, the Original Tandoori Kitchen in South Van is a longstanding local take-out favourite and for good reason. Naan as long as your arm and wide as a boat paddle are puffy and perfect, traditional picks like lamb korma and rogan josh scream of fresh ingredients and rich creams, and the gulab jamun is a sweet honey tale of overindulged canines.

Frozen Fusion
1488 West 11 Ave

If operating an oven doesn’t scare you off, then pick up the frozen wild salmon cakes at Vij’s Rangoli, and side it with a dollop of tamarind chutney. Grab some frozen naan and fresh-made raita for a complete meal. If you’re more adventurous, try the spicy chopped kale and potatoes, or the yam and green chilli dumplings. And definitely don’t miss the rice pudding, with almonds and cinnamon, which is just as good cold as it is hot.

Southern Comfort
147 East Broadway

The profusion of Northern Indian cuisine often overshadows Southern specialists like Main Street’s Chutney Villa. Cod in coconut gravy, lamb cooked in shallots, garlic and curry leaves, or the “Captain Scotty” chicken all ring with Chettinad and Tamil influences. Innovative dishes like onion rings deep-fried in a rice-and-lentil batter, or pappadam “nachos” sit along side traditional favourites like masala uttapum and lentil dumplings. And the Sunday breakfast is a vegetarian’s delight.

Fine Dining
1905 West Broadway

Seventeen years, and the rose petal lassis and No.1 Club Cups at Akbar’s Own are just as good as the chicken Kashmiri. In fact, for Mughlai and Kashmiri cuisine, there really isn’t anywhere else. Rice with browned onions and fruit peel makes the cooker in your cupboard obsolete. Try the lamb badshahi for sweet-hot heartiness, or the egg dhal for an ovo-vegetarian masterpiece.

Dosas Done Right
1391 Kingsway

Within the South Indian repertoire, the dosa takes a large but humble place. It’s the Indian equivalent to a French crepe, except larger, tastier and … did I mention larger? House of Dosas is a family-run operation that produces two-foot-long wraps of seafood, meat or vegetables, in succulent curries that can be ordered “very-very-hot-hot” or just mildly incendiary. Try the palak paneer, a spinach-cheese combo that is loaded with Indian thyme, potato and cauliflower, or the prawn vindaloo, guaranteed to expose nerve endings you didn’t know you possessed. On Mondays, virtually all dosas are $5.99, so expect a busy house, but these are worth the wait.

Top Shelf
The Truth About Sharks

Shark Truth is a grassroots, not-for-profit that seeks to engage consumers in the fight to preserve the world’s endangered shark population. On November 19, Wild Rice (117 West Pender St) will host the Shark Truth Launch Party fundraiser at 8 p.m. Sample some contemporary Chinese delicacies, enjoy some drink specials and enter a raffle. Tickets $20 at

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