Abhi's Indian Restaurant, North Strathfield

Saturday, November 22, 2014

It's an old wives tale that spicy food is good for sickness - naturally 'hot' foods like horseradish, wasabi and chilli are good remedies for when you're feeling a bit off or fluey. Likewise, it's also well known (especially in warm, humid places like Malaysia) that eating spicy food can help cool you down on hot days. Eating food like curries when you're sweltering in 30 degree plus heat makes you sweat, which the body's cooling mechanism. Funny, isn't it?

Most of the time when we're sweltering and hot, we shy back into air-conditioned comfort or duck our head in the freezer for an ice cream. Indian food is one of those cuisines that utilises spice not just to counteract the warm weather, but to add layers of complexity to each and every dish. Nothing is without a little bit of spice, and it's not necessarily all hot spice either.

Abhi's Indian Restaurant is a littler further out from the city than it's higher end sister restaurant Aki's on the Finger Wharves in Woolloomooloo. It sits on Concord Road which, despite being home to a long line of shops, is more of a busy traffic thoroughfare than crowded with pedestrians.

Despite the quiet position nestled in amongst a few other restaurants, inside it's a busy affair. The restaurant extends over two levels, with the upstairs area seemingly larger, but a bit more quiet, but than the downstairs dining room as its spread out over a bigger area . We arrive at 6:30pm on a Saturday night and it's getting busy already. Abhi's is a bit fancier than your average run-of-the-mill Indian restaurant, with two sets of cutlery, an extensive leather bound menu and linen napkins.

Opening up the menu we find a plethora of exotic dishes, all listed in Indian with mouth-watering descriptions under each item. Species feature heavily, with a variety as wide (and colourful) as the rainbow.

Hariyali Chops ($24.80)

Lamb chops are marinated in a vibrant green garam masala of coriander, spinach, roasted gram flour and green chillies. The fat is kept on, which makes the lamb cutlets wonderfully tender and tasty. There is a slight chilli tingle, relief from which can be satisfied by a minty coriander and cool strands of raw carrot and onion.

Pork Adreke ($24.80)

The special fried pork belly is crispy and piled high, with flavours of tamarind, ginger and garlic that are reminiscent of a Thai dish. This is sticky and a little bit too sweet for my liking; it isn't too spicy at all.

Kadhai Paneer ($19.80)

Paneer is a fresh, homemade cottage cheese that comes in a bright orange curry with sweet capsicum, tomatoes and ginger. It is laced with a slick of chilli oil and is probably the hottest of all the dishes ordered. The cheese is creamy and firm, cut into small cubes that takes on the coriander, cumin and ginger flavours of the sauce well. It's addictive and spicy.

Ennai Kathrikai ($18.80)

An eggplant and banana chilli curry is enriched with all kinds of nuts - coconut, peanut, cashew and ground sesame - which are key flavours of the Hyderabadi style of cooking. These strong, toasty nutty flavour take the place of the strong spices that dominate Indian cuisine, a refreshing break on the palette.

Goa Fish Curry ($25.80)

Barramundi fillets are cooked to a silky softness in a vibrant orange curry of tumeric, coriander seeds and cumin. Freshly ground coconut finishes off the sauce that is creamy and not as strong as the other curries; it goes well with the subtle, sweet fish.

Chicken Makhni ($21.80)

The crowd pleaser Butter Chicken arrives in a deceivingly small bowl, revealing a generous serving of tender tandoor- roasted chicken pieces, taken off the skewer and swimming in a deep orange sauce of tomato, fenugreek and cream; its smooth and subtle with a tang of sweet. This one of the mildest curries on the menu.

Basmati Rice ($3.20 per person)

Basmati rice is tinted sunshine yellow by saffron, arriving in a big bowl with a smattering of golden crip fried shallots and coriander as a garnish.

Garlic Naan ($4.20 each)

Of course you can't have an Indian meal without the quintessential naan bread. Each serve is cut in two and is soft and chewy, covered in charred garlic dots and spots of coriander. The edges are plump and the top is bubbled with raised bumps so that some parts are thicker than others.

Gulab Jamun ($12.80)

Gulab Jamun are plump milk dumplings cooked in a sugar syrup, spliced in half to form cute domes in a pool of the rosewater and sugar syrup and topped with a scoop of ice cream and a sweet sesame snap. The dumplings are dense, cake-like in texture and soak up all of the syrup they are cooked in, but they don't quite yield and cut easily like I'm told other versions do. Perhaps they're a little bit overcooked, although presented playfully and beautifully.

A look inside the Gulab Jamun

Abhi's brings Indian cuisine above the usual takeaway favourites of Butter Chicken, Lamb Korma and Rogan Josh, presenting authentic, lesser-tread dishes are generous in serving size. Service is friendly and everything we ate was delicious without leaving us with the heavy, bloated feeling some are akin to feel when eating 'heavier' verions of Indian food. Despite packing a heavy spice and flavour punch, dishes are tasty without being overwhelming and are ideal for sharing. Abhi's is a restaurants that brings exquisite Indian to the Inner West.


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  1. Ha I can never eat soups during summer. All I want is cold drinks and ice cream!

    1. Sounds exactly like me! That naan looks delicious though.