Journalist Sarah Efron explores strip malls and hole-in-the-wall restaurants in search of the city's best ethnic food

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Who has the best roti in Toronto? Spice City conducted a taste test to find out

The legendary Gandhi's Indian Cuisine (554 Queen Street West) has long been considered to be the best place for roti in Toronto. I've been addicted to its intensely spiced Indian curry concoctions for years, and I used to visit the restaurant on my trips through to town before I lived here. While traditional Caribbean roti has a huge following in town, I've never tried one that can compete with Gandhi.

But in recent years, the situation has become murkier. Gandhi owner Avtar Singh opened a second restaurant, Mother India in Parkdale (1456 Queen Street West). They serve rotis that are virtually identical to Gandhi's, although some have said that the quality fails to match that of the original. Another spin off restaurant, the lesser known Roti Time, was opened by Gandhi's former accountant at 2542 St. Clair Ave. W. near Runnymede Ave. 

How do these sibling restaurants compare with Gandhi? Is Gandhi still the best? I assembled a panel of self-confessed roti-holics to find out. 

The Spice City panel of judges was made up of critical foodies with two centuries of cumulative roti eating experience. Judges with Trini, Indian and South African roots boasted about their curry credentials. Another judge works in an office where 90 people have opted into an email list to order from Gandhi each week. This was a blind taste test, so the judges didn't know where each roti was from when they judged.

The first category they judged was the butter chicken (medium spicy). Mother India's butter chicken wasn't spicy enough, the judges said, and the skin was doughy. Gandhi's butter chicken was much, much spicier, and had a creamy texture. "It's like spicy baby food," said judge Mary Luz Mejia. The judges felt Gandhi's roti had too much potato and not enough chicken.

It was unanimous that Roti Time had the best shell. Even though the judges thought the filling was too sweet, they voted this one the best overall. "The chicken was tender and plentiful and the dough was the best," said Lea Zelserman.

Congratulations to Roti Time for having the best butter chicken roti. (It scored 3.33 out of 5). The runner up in this category was Mother India (2.89 out of 5), and Gandhi came in dead last (2.61 out of 5).

In between rounds, the judges entertained themselves by looking at classic movie posters rejigged in the theme of Gandhi Roti.

Next up was the saag paneer (medium spicy). Again, the judges felt that Mother India's roti was too mild. "It's doughy and they were chintzy on the paneer," complained Christine Coopspeak. This recipe had tomato sauce it in, which is unusual for saag paneer.

Gandhi was the clear favourite in this category. "Nice and spinachy, and very spicy," enthused Dave C. "This is the best, as there is much more spinach flavour," said iamvickytam. Roti Time still got praise for having the best shell, but judges didn't like the sweetness and said the roti tasted a little burnt.

So Gandhi dominated this category, with a 3.2 out of 5; Mother India came in second, with 2.55 out of 5 and Roti Time came in last here, with 2.3 out of 5.

So who is the overall winner? When you add the scores up for both rotis, Gandhi comes up as having the best roti, with an overall score of 5.81 out of 10. But Roti Time is nipping at its older sibling's heels, coming in close behind with 5.63 out of 10. Mother India, despite scoring in the middle of the pack in both rounds, had the lowest overall score, with 5.44 out of 10. 

Photos by Dana Lacey. Thanks to the judges and event helpers @thismason@iamvickytam, Mary Luz Mejia, Gilbert, Mario Stojanac, Christine Coopspeak, @Bev_W, @eskay8, Sandy Avvari, Matt, Dave C, Christine and Lea Zeltserman.

What is your favourite roti in Toronto? I'd love to hear your comments below or on Twitter using the hashtag #rotitasting.

  • Share your own thoughts on roti in the comments field below.
  • Follow Spice City Toronto on Twitter and like it on Facebook.
  • Recommend a place for Spice City to visit at SpiceCityTO @ gmail.com 
  • Taste the food of the world without leaving Toronto with the Spice City Toronto World Food Map.


  1. This is awesome Sarah! I look forward to more of these taste tests.
    How 'bout Spanakopita?

  2. Thanks Una. Where can you get good spanakopita?

  3. Did you see NOW's recent roti survey? Ghandi was about #12.

    My fav is Island Foods at Dufferin/King. Yum!

  4. "Good spanakopita"


  5. Gandhi's is Awesome. For Naan I go to 5th Element though :)