The cultural and economic connections between India and Melbourne have deepened from a longstanding mutual love of the game of cricket to in recent years Bollywood films and actors in the city; the growing Indian Film Festival Melbourne; a thriving student population, and all things gastronomy – including the popularity of MasterChef Australia in Indian (it rates better than the local Indian franchise). A glut of quality Indian eateries hitting the streets has added further to this mutual appreciation society.
A new contemporary Indian restaurant in the well-heeled Hawthorn neighbourhood. Piquancy is serving up Melbourne’s favourite meal, brunch, with an Indian twist. Eggs with smoked eggplant, beetroot relish, Persian feta and sourdough toast; cracked wheat porridge with roasted apple, smoked maple almonds and pistachios. For lunch, a samosa patty burger with tamarind, mint, coconut chutney, served with tangy fries; a spiced lamb burger filled with beetroot, Indian tzatziki, served with masala fries. Owners Mani Waraich and Ranjit Singh are also behind St Kilda’s Babu Ji and are on a mission to break stereotypes of typical Indian food. 123 Auburn Road, Hawthorn, VIC, 3122 +61 (3) 9813 5160
Marketing itself as Indian Street Food, Delhi Streets offers an easy to navigate menu of favourites from the deliciously messy pani puri with its zingy broth, to the thali tray options including two curries, pickles, naan, rice and pappadum. Wraps, pizzas, dosa and other classics make up the remainder of the menu or diners can choose the feed me option at $35 a person. The atmosphere is fun, intimate and the service is fast. A regular on the ‘cheap eats’ menu. 22 Katherine Place, Melbourne, 3000 +61 (3) 9629 2620
Now a Melbourne institution, Tonka is Adam d’Sylva’s second laneways precinct venue and has not wavered in popularity since opening five years ago. In Duckboard Place, adjacent to Lee Ho Fook and Pastuso, the premises were once home to cult late-night venue Honkytonks and the restaurant has been named with a nod to the famous club. Two roaring hot ovens deliver delicious flavours from the subcontinent for the medley of Indian-inspired dishes such as soft shell crab pakoras, chicken biryani and goan fish curry. 20 Duckboard Place Melbourne, 3000 +61 (3) 9650 3155.
Exploding onto the scene more than five years ago bringing the flavours of India to Melbourne but using locally sourced ingredients and giving the dishes a Melbourne twist. The popularity surprised the owners as visitors travelled north of the city after word of mouth spread. Offering a selection of curries and a street food section, the menu includes The Papdi Chaat “the motherland’s version of nachos and salsa”, and Gol Gappa “the snack that every Indian Loves” as well as homemade kulfi Indian ice cream. 167 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North, VIC, 3065 +61 (3) 9497 8101
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