Biryani Nation, 6 Lohse Street, Lverton. Phone: 8597 3452
The Lohse and Hall Street shops are tucked away, over the train tracks and about a kilometre from Laverton’s main shopping area, around Aviation Road and Cheeky Chewies Cafe.
Very local, very low key.
There was a couple of Indian places here we never visited.
They’re gone – and now there’s just the very brand new Biryani Nation.
With a name like that, you’d want to be pretty darn good at cooking … biryanis.
Certainly, the menu makes a big deal out of this sub-continental rice dish – there are about 30 of them, including vegetarian options, listed (see below).
Apart from the regulation and expected dum biryanis – in which the meat is cooked with the rice – I suspect many of the Biryani Nation dishes could more accurately be labelled as pulaos.
That’s of no matter to me – I’m not about to get into hair-splitting if the food is good and there is a range of flavours and seasoning among the various biryani selections.
There is – I know, because I’ve tried two of them and they were very good.
Chicken fry biryani ($13.95) has crunchy fried onions, cashews, curry leaves and plenty of meaty, chewy chicken pieces on the bone.
The accompanying gravy (tastes peanutty but is, I’m told, cashew-based) and raita are served in admirably hefty quantities and are excellent.
Gongura mutton biryani ($16.95) is more in the pulao style – but is a knockout.
Gongura, I find out, is a leafy vegetable widely used in India – it’s basically sorrel.
Here, as in saag/spincach dishes, it is used as a puree marinade cooking medium for the mutton, one piece of which crowns my rice pile and many others of which are buried within.
Some of the mutton pieces are bone-free and wonderful.
As many more are on the bone and rather tough – but I like it like that, getting fully into the hands-on swing that very much goes with this sort of territory.
The big thing is the flavour – the gongura produces a zesty, citrus-like tang like I’ve never before experienced in Indian food.
I love it!
So much so, that I use the raita only sparingly, and the gravy not at all, in order to enjoy the leafy puree all the more.
For non-biryani fans, there’s plenty of scope for enjoyment elsewhere on the Biryani Nation menu – dosas, Indo-Chinese, thalis.
These onion pakora ($4.95) are beaut with their crunchy batter and curry leaves.
The Biryani nation desserts range runs mostly to the familiar likes of kulfi and gulab jamun, but …
I am presented, complementarily, with this amazing double ka meetha on account of it being opening day.
They should put it on the menu!
It’s an Indian take on bread pudding, the white sliced bread all puffed up with milk and perfumed with saffron and cardamom.
Topped with chopped almonds and pistachios, it’s a killer treat.