Meatless Montreal: Wanna Pushap tonight!? Montreal’s Vegetarian Indian restaurant

At least twice a month, I’ll ask my good buddy, “Wanna Pushap tonight?” We head down to Indian restaurant Pushap to stuff our faces on cheap delicious food.  For less than $10.00, you can eat enough to put yourself into the most epic food coma. Since I know this place pretty well by now, I figured why not write about it? It is a vegetarian restaurant after all.

Pushap is a little hole in the wall on rue Paré, steps away from Namur metro. Even though they’ve recently done some renovating, it still looks pretty run down and cluttered. You definitely aren’t going there for an evening of fine dining. The dishes start at $3.00 and you are getting more than your money’s worth. The service is sometimes charming, and sometimes not. It really depends on the night, and the mood of your particular servers. Often they’ll give you free food, other times they’ll  make you wait a really long time. The mystery is all part of the experience.  If fast and efficient service is very important to you, then don’t bother with this place. If you like cheap food in a laid back environment with Indian pop playing in the background, then you’re in for a treat!

Dahl soup - $1.50
Dahl soup – $1.50

Starting on a low note, I had the Dahl soup (Indian lentil soup) which was a little too salty this time. Consistency is not really Pushap’s strong point, but you learn to overlook it because the price is so damn good. For those who don’t know, dahl soup is basically a more liquid version of dahl (lentil stew). It’s an important staple in South Asian cuisine from Nepal to Sri Lanka. It can be prepared in a number of ways but usually the main components are lentils and spices. If you want a good dahl soup, Pushap will do but it’s probably not the best in the city.

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Vegetable Pakoras – $1.50

That being said, the second appetizer was amazing! We ordered the Vegetable Pakoras and they were excellent as usual! To date, I haven’t met one person who didn’t like pakoras. Even people who don’t like Indian food still enjoy this dish.  These little balls of chickpea flour battered veggies are deep fried to deliciousness and served with a spicy tamarind sauce. Pushap’s pakoras have a distinct fluffy texture in comparison to other restaurants. Some people love the texture of Pushap pakoras and others don’t, it may depend on what you are used to. Like the samosas, this is one item on the Pushap menu that is always consistent and very satisfying. At $1.50 for 6 pieces, how can you go wrong? I usually get a second order to bring home and toss into the toaster oven for lunch the next day.

Alu Tikki - Fried potato patty covered in Chickpeas, yogurt and sauce. $ 2.99
Alu Tikki -$ 2.99

As much as I love pakoras, my favourite appetizer by far is the Alu Tikki. Alu means potato, and tikki means cutlet or croquette. This dish is basically a mashed potato patty, fried into a soft croquette. A lot of places serve this croquette dry, but not Pushap! They like to drench it in chickpea curry, yogurt, fresh onions and tamarind sauce. Every bite is a curious mix of diverse and spicy flavours. The only trouble is that they don’t always have it!

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Thali – $5.75

For your main, you can order a la carte, or choose between a Combination or a Thali.

Combinations include appetizers and thalis don’t. Starting at $9.50, the combos always feature a few curry choices, bread, rice and appetizers. Combo portions are usually a little larger than the thali portions and you can order for 1, 2 or 4 people.

The word thali means plate and it is usually a mix of various dishes. Best choice for newbies because it’s a surprise plate for only $5.75. You can’t really go wrong, and you don’t need to think to much about what you are ordering. You’ll only be asked two simple questions:

  1.     Lentil or Chickpea?
  2.     Bread: Fried or not fried?

I chose lentils and fried bread. The fried bread is just better! Trust me. Every thali also comes with two additional curries: one veggie and one paneer (cheese), rice and cabbage.

This time we got shahi paneer (cheese and cashews) and zucchini curry. Neither were overly spicy so we asked for some hot mango pickles on the side. The shahi paneer was yummy as usual. The zucchini curry can sometimes be a little runny, but last night it was great.

If you plan to order a la carte, you should definitely try at least one paneer dish. My favourite is the palak paneer (spinach and cheese) and the shahi paneer, which we got in last night’s thali. I also really enjoy their alu gobi (cauliflower and potato) dish.

As far as “hole in the wall” type places are concerned, Pushap really is a gem! I haven’t met too many people who didn’t like the food. I’ve heard some complaints that the curries are too mild, it really depends on the night. This means beware to those who can’t handle spice at all. Best to ask your waiter beforehand what’s hot and what’s not!

Finally, Pushap is well known for it’s sweets. As a freak who doesn’t like dessert, I can’t comment too much in this area. If anyone has some input here, please let me know!

Food: 4/5
Service: 2/5  – It’s not great but you get used to it.
Ambience: 2.5/5
Price: 5/5 CHEAP! Eat your heart out for less than $10

Value: 5/5

Vegan options: Good. Double check that your dishes are not being cooked with ghee.

Contact: 5195 Paré Montréal, Québec H4P 1P4, 514.737.4527,