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Monday, June 28, 2010

Abhi's Indian Restaurant, North Strathfield

Pappadums $2.80 per serve
with side dish platter of mango chutney, raita and kachumber $6.80

The joy of the pappadum.

There's a happy sense of joy about snapping the thin crisp disc of pappadum into jagged shards, surveying the little pots of cucumber and yoghurt raita,mango chutney and tomato and onion kachumber set in front of you. The biggest decision is which one to eat first, and next, and more of, and more.

After eating at Aki's in Woolloomooloo, I'm curious to check out its older and less more traditional sibling Abhi's in North Strathfield. The stretch of shops is short here. We walk past two big-name pizza outlets operating side-by-side before we push open the door to the ambient surrounds of Abhi's.

There's no spectacular view, no gentle lapping of water and no squawking seagulls overhead. Instead we find a dining that's surprisingly busy, mostly families or groups of friends, a few couples seated by the wall, their attention solely on the food and the company.

Bhindi jaipuri $18.80

I'm tempted to order the palak patta chaat I'd adored at Aki's, but in the interests of further research we order the bhindi jaipuri from the Specials menu instead. Described as "crispy okra fingers", I expect to whole okra but am surprised to find them sliced into lengths and deep-fried. The batter, made with rice flour and chickpea flour, is crunchy and spiced and the dish is initially addictive but a little too oily by the time we've snacked on half the plate. I do find myself wishing I could have bitten into a whole okra so I could relish the slight stickiness of the seeds inside.

Mixed tandoori platter $24.80

The mixed tandoori platter is a popular option this evening, appearing on several tables around us. Seekh kebabs are a mixture of lamb mince with black cumin seeds, mace, ginger, black pepper, coriander and fresh green chillies.

I prefer the hariyali chops, lamb cutlets marinated in pureed spinach, coriander, chickpea flour and green chillies. The meat is tender and coaxing it from the bone is a satisfying task.

Chicken tikka is a little drier off the bone, but there's plenty of flavour in the free range fillets, marinated in yoghurt with mace and ginger and cooked in the tandoor until the edges have caramelised.

Goa fish curry $24.80

A gentle prod with a fork proves that the barramundi fillets in the Goa fish curry are perfectly cooked. The sauce, thick and creamy with coconut, is fragrant with coriander, cumin and turmeric. The fish flakes easily and we mop up the sauce with basmati rice and torn bits of garlic naan, fluffy with a crisp edge on the bottom.

Plain basmati rice $2.90 per person

Garlic naan $3.50

Ennai kathrikai $17.80

Our vegetarian dishes are the last to arrive and I enjoy these the most. Ennai kathrikai consists of fat chunks of young eggplant, smoky and unctious, served in a spicy cashew and peanut coconut sauce. Thick slices of banana chile provide crunch.

Paneer pasanda $17.80

Paneer is always a favourite. We find generous wads of this homemade cotttage cheese in the paneer pasanda. The mild cheese takes on all the flavours of the sauce, a combination of cashews, tomatoes, onion and cumin hiding slices of green capsicum.

The layering of spices is impressive in all of our dishes, and we take our time to contrast and appreciate the complexity of each one.

Double-ka-meetha $10.80

The double-ka-meetha, we are told, is a regal dessert that is an essential part of every Hyderabadi wedding, a city and former state known for its obsession with fine food. Two triangles of bread are fried and then soaked in a syrup of rosewater, honey and cardamom.

Essentially a bread pudding, there's a slightly oily aftertaste that's helped by the scoop of rose petal ice cream that is light and refreshing. A small adornment of edible leaf is a decadent touch.

Gulam jamun $10.80

Gulab jamun are quite large in size, but oddly served already sliced in half. It means they're not as swollen or heavy with syrup, but the milk dumplings are still rich and satisfying, spiced with cardamom and sprinkled with pistachio.

Chai tea is the ideal drink to complete our meal and aid digestion, stronger in brew than the we'd had at Aki's, and aromatic with cinnamon, cloves, star anise and ginger. It's a soothing finish to dinner where the only breeze you'll find here is the ease of parking. Always a good thing.

> Don't forget to check out Freebie Friday this week for a dining giveaway at Aki's Indian Restaurant.

Grab Your Fork dined as a guest of Abhi's Indian Restaurant
163 Concord Road
North Strathfield, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9743 3061

Opening hours:
Lunch Sunday to Friday from 12 noon
Dinner Monday to Sunday from 6pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:

North Strathfield - Gorkha Palace (Nepalese)
North Strathfield - Outback Steakhouse (American)

15 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 6/28/2010 12:45:00 am


  • At 6/28/2010 2:21 am, Anonymous MissDissent said…

    So which restaurant did you prefer??

    I am excited to be dining here later in the week too (first time) though I have dined at Aki's before.

    It's always exciting to read your wrap and imagine the tastes I am about to enjoy!

  • At 6/28/2010 2:37 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    ooh i love paneer! i could eat a mountain of it. mmm paneer mountain..

  • At 6/28/2010 8:16 am, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    Looks like a nice place for some standard Indian fare. Gulab jamun is my favourite dessert from India, I've never seen it cut before serving. Love th look of the eggplant dish!

  • At 6/28/2010 10:40 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    While everything looks liek spicy tasty goodness, I can't get past the okra. (In a good way.) I've tried cooking with okra twice: once I liked it, and the other time the mucus-y texture got to me (in the bad way).

    I'd so love to try a fried spicy okra version cooked by people who know what they're doing! (I.e., not me :P)

  • At 6/28/2010 11:17 am, Blogger Sara @ Belly Rumbles said…

    I really am a bit of an eggplant fanatic, sounded delicious. Both desserts looked lovely, but the double-ka-meetha is something I would want to try, a little bit different, almost indian french toast.

  • At 6/28/2010 2:04 pm, Blogger YW said…

    I work just 5 mins away and didn't know about this place! Thanks for posting.. :) Will definitely give this place a visit soon..

  • At 6/28/2010 4:59 pm, Blogger Anna said…

    Ahh I've been here once (too long ago). Alas I don't think that eggplant dish was on the menu then - perhaps I need to return :)

  • At 6/28/2010 9:37 pm, Anonymous billy@atablefortwo said…

    the gulab jamun looks kinda cool being halved then plated like a blossom.

    Good to see so many unfamiliar dishes than the typical korma, butter chicken...

  • At 6/28/2010 10:05 pm, Anonymous Betty @ The Hungry Girl said…

    I've always wanted to go to Abhi's, but I always end up going to 'my' usual Indian place in Homebush! I love the sound of the Ennai kathrikai - it's got everything I love from the eggplant to the cashew nuts - yum :D

  • At 6/28/2010 10:17 pm, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    Was the gulab jamun like dense donuts?

  • At 6/28/2010 10:47 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is perfect curry weathherrr!! I want my palak paneerrrr and of course garlic and/or cheese naan!
    I will have to give Ahbis a go sometime mmmm

  • At 6/29/2010 3:00 am, Anonymous Ana said…

    double ka meetha is also a popular dessert back in Bangladesh but it is known as Shahi Tukra...Shahi means royal while tukra means piece...it's indeed a royal dish with all its ghee, cream, and garnishes of safforn, pistachios, almonds and raisin

  • At 6/30/2010 10:03 pm, Blogger Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said…

    Oh wow that's alot of dishes to try! We had two curries and rice plus naan between the two of us and were completely stuffed! That and we only had limited dining time without a booking so had to finish quickly.

  • At 6/30/2010 10:44 pm, Anonymous Jenny @ Musings & Morsels said…

    Oh I'm swooning. Pappadums are indeed some of the most ideal (read: perfect) appetisers ever created.

    Never been here yet but looking at both the price and food choices, it's likely to be my next stop.

  • At 7/02/2010 1:11 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Miss Dissent - I think they both offer different experiences so it's hard to say. Loved the view at Aki's and the menu is quite extensive. Abhi's is much more convenient for parking though - I'd probably see myself going to Abhi's more often only because of ease of access.

    Hope you enjoy your meal at Abhi's. I'm craving the palak patta chaat already!

    Hi chocolatesuze - Ha, yes, I could totally see you digging into a mountain of paneer. Is there a cheese you don't love? lol

    Hi John - I love gulab jamun too and the eggplant dish was amazing. I was quite impressed by the dishes here too.

    Hi Hannah - Okra can be quite divise with its texture but deep-frying is definitely one way to win over new fans!

    Hi Sara - Eggplant is such a fantastic ingredient isn't it? And the double-ka-meetha was very interesting. I guess you could liken it to an Indian French toast. lol

    Hi YW - Isn't it funny how people tend to explore other neighbourhoods before their backyard? lol. Hope you find a new favourite local :)

    Hi Ladybird - They have been around for a long time - 20 years in fact! lol. The eggplant was amazing. Such a fabulous texture.

    Hi Billy - I agree, always exciting to find a full range of authentic dishes to try.

    Hi Betty - It's often tempting to stick with the tried and true. I think you'll enjoy the eggplant dish :)

    Hi Mademoiselle Delicieuse - I wouldn't really call them dense donuts, as they have a very milky flavour and are sodden with syrup. You'll have to try some!

    Hi FFichiban - Ah yes Indian food is always good in cold weather. I rarely go for cheese naan - it's always garlic for me!

    Hi Ana - Thanks for the info on double ke meetha. It's fascinating to see where dishes have spread, and also to appreciate the luxury of ingredients we have in this day and age.

    Hi Angie - We did have a lot of food but hey, I take my research very seriously :) It was a leisurely meal and we were packed up with lots of leftovers for dinner the next day!

    Hi Jenny - Pappadums are fab aren't they? Fun and delicious! Hope you get here soon :)


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