58 Station Place, Sunshine. Phone: 9364 9001
“Special discount/offer for students & taxi drivers.”
It’s difficult to imagine words more profound, eloquent or enticing for the bargain-inclined food hound.
They can be found inscribed on the business card of Maurya Indian Restaurant & Cafe, a humble but – on the basis of two visits – terrific eatery in Sunshine.
With windows that gaze out on the busy comings and goings of buses and, beyond them and their passengers, the Sunshine train station, Maurya equals Wang Wang Dumpling in terms of vehicular scenery.
Such matters not, of course.
I’d been at least subliminally aware of Maurya for years without ever setting foot inside, deterred perhaps by a perception that it is too much of a low-key hangout for, well, taxi drivers to function as public-serving eatery.
Wrong! Although the service is low-key, perseverance is certainly rewarded.
As well, I gained the impression that not all items listed on the menu – there’s only one, stuck to the wall next to the servery and cash register – are always available. So consultations with the staff are a requirement.
The interior is typical Indian el cheapo cafe, with a nice comfy feel that made me right at home. In fact, it reminded me of Indian eats places in India, even if my sole visit to that country was a mighty long time ago.
Prices here are notably on the low side.
A whole tandoori chook clocks in at $12, two kinds of dal are $6.50, their chick pea cousin $7 and meat curries $9.
For my Saturday lunch, I settle on dal tadka, plain rice ($2.50) and a plain roti ($1).
I start though, wanting to get things moving into my mouth as soon as possible, with a samosa ($1).
I have only the most modest of expectations, so am delighted with my house-made pastry parcel. In addition to the expected spuds, peas and spices (including whole cumin and coriander seeds), there are a scattering of sultanas included. I love it.
My dal appears to be based mostly on red and aduki beans, and thus, to me, appears more like makhani than the tadka variety.
But in truth, it’s like neither I’ve ever had in any restaurant, anywhere.
For this is real home-made Indian food – as opposed to Indian restaurant food, with its more refined approach and fewer rough edges.
Unlike other restaurant versions I know, the onion is obvious, the chopped/shredded ginger both a taste and a texture. I detect coriander and cinnamon. The dish has a beaut slow-burn chilli hit that nevertheless never rises much above a click or two over mild.
I love this, too!
For such homely fare, my plain wholemeal roti is the perfect complement.
Including a can of soft drink, my lunch costs me $13.50, which I consider a grand bargain.
A day earlier, on my initial visit, I’d played safe and gone for one of my perennial requests in such places – “cholley bhaturey”.
The Maurya version cost me a superbly low $6 and was very good indeed.
The puris were hot and fluffy, although by the time I got to the second it had gone cold and stiff. The chick peas were fab, as were the attendant condiments.
Blimey – $6!
For the locals, they even provide a tiffin service!