Businesses and non-profit organizations open and move regularly in Saskatoon. Today, the StarPhoenix talks to Shamsher Taya, who fulfilled a dream by opening his own Indian restaurant on 8th Street in August. Taya, the owner of Samway Grill, grew up in India and has been cooking in Indian restaurants for much of his life. When the perfect location became available, he was ready to open his own.
Q: What made you decide to open Samway Grill?
A: I was a cook in India for many years, came to Calgary in 2011 and cooked at an Indian restaurant there. I came to Saskatoon in 2017 and cooked at an Indian restaurant here for three years. I have so much experience in Indian cooking, that’s why I decided to open my own restaurant. I actually decided to open two or three years ago, but was looking for a good location and was delayed by the pandemic. Then we found this great location on 8th Street and Preston.
Q: Where does the name Samway come from?
A: When I came to Canada everybody called me Sam. We named the restaurant Samway after my nickname. Why choose another name?
Q: What type of items do you have on the menu?
A: We have pretty much all the dishes — lamb, chicken and seafood. We have vegetarian and some vegan options as well and serve different naan breads.
Q: Could you tell us about some of your most popular dishes?
A: Butter chicken and chicken coconut curry are some of our favorite items, and our Goan fish curry. The chicken coconut curry is made with coconut milk, my curry sauce, and Indian spices with curry leaves. Our butter chicken comes simmered in a tomato butter sauce with cashews. The Goan fish is cooked in a tangy sauce with tamarind, coconut and Indian spices.
A popular appetizer is crispy vegetable pakora, which has potato, spinach, onion, cauliflower and Indian spices battered in chickpea flour. It’s served with mint chutney and tamarind chutney.
A popular vegetarian course is paneer tikka masala that comes with cottage cheese marinated in yogurt with ginger and garlic and cooked with a blend of tandoori spices.
Q: Could you tell us about your selection of naan breads?
A: Everybody likes my naan bread. Butter naan and garlic naan are two of the most popular. There’s also plain, paneer, potato, and coconut honey as well as a tandoori roti. They’re made with flour and milk and a little bit of yogurt.
Q: What’s on your dessert menu?
A: There is gulab jamun, which are deep fried dumplings soaked in sugar syrup. There’s also ras malai, which are sweet cheese balls.
Q: What makes your restaurant stand out from other restaurants?
A: People will experience the authentic taste of Indian food. I’ve been cooking about 20 years. I know a lot about my Indian foods. The quantity and quality is always good. Every day we make fresh food. This is my priority. Everybody likes my food, everybody likes my recipes, everybody likes the environment in my restaurant.
Q: Do you have any plans to open more restaurants?
A: Maybe next year. I’m thinking about opening another Samway Grill in Regina.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Owner: Shamsher Taya
Address: 101 – 2100 8th Street East (Preston Center)
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., 7 days a week
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