Happy birthday, Mishra’s Kitchen!

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Mishra’s Kitchen, 18 Wembley Ave, Yarraville. Phone: 9314 3336

It’s a most happy thing, this food-blogging caper, or as it’s evolved for us anyway …

Pretty much the only down side is that mostly we don’t have the opportunity to patronise on a more regular basis so many top places and the smiling, welcoming people who run them.

 

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Such a one is Mishra’s Kitchen on Wembley Avenue in Yarraville.

So we are delighted to accept Sanjeev’s invitation to attend his joint’s fifth birthday party.

 

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We bowl up right at the appointed time thinking that, as so often is the case with us, that we’ll among the very first arrivals and that proceedings will only just be getting underway.

Wrong – the part is already in full swing!

 

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We make happy with the laid-out goodies that include a luscious dal makhani and a very toothsome goat curry.

Sanjeev has turned on this spread without charge.

 

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But guests are being encouraged to give the money they would otherwise have spent on food to the Moira Kelly Creating Hope Foundation.

From Sanjeev’s invittation: “Moira Kelly, AO, has supported sick children and their families for decades. She is known for her work in bringing to Australia children with serious health problems that local doctors are unable to treat (such as conjoined Bangladeshi twins Trishna and Krishna). Moira takes on causes that everybody else says are impossible, and she says of her work: ‘There’s no saying No to hope.’ Her aim is to help international and local needy children and families to be as independent as possible and live full lives in the community.”

You can read all about Moira and her kids here.

 

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We have a lovely time chatting with many people.

 

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And we even have the pleasure of running into Mick and Anika, our neighbours from the days we lived in West Footscray!

 

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Stepping it up a tad, Indian style

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Nawab Sahab, 2/102-104 Watton Street, Werribee. Phone: 9749 8852

Luckily for us, the Indian food we most like is frequently produced by eateries at the lower end of the price spectrum.

But for once, we decide to try one of the spiffier places on Watton Street.

Not that Nawab Sahab, once you’re inside, is overwhelmingly grand or anything like that.

And the prices are very reasonable.

Very unusually for a western suburbs Indian eating house these days, there is no inclusion here of South Indian fare such a dosas, idlis, vadas and the like, and only a minimal Indo-Chinese component.

But there are handy points of difference choices under headings such Mumbai Special and Delhi Corner.

 

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Nawab Sahab also has a feature I have never before seen in an Indian restaurant – or a restaurant of any kind: A “selfie station” at which guests are invited to “dress up like a Hyderabdai prince”.

 

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We love it that a serve of papadums – unoily, crisp and with minty and tamarind dipping sauces on the side – is brought to our table without charge, as is a second serve.

For the first of two visits, Bennie and I both enjoy the “gold” thali (top photo) – at $21.50, a little more expensive than most of their kind, but still good.

Nice rice, a tangy chicken curry, a mushy one of the veg kind, rather crunchy chick peas, a way better-than-average raita, onion/pickle and a somewhat doughy gulab jamun – we are happy with what we eat.

 

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One of our thalis is served with a fine naan on the side …

 

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… the other with pooris.

 

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Our second visit, a week later, is uneven.

Bennie’s order of chicken noodles is a mistake.

Much as we like Indo-Chinese food, this dish reinforces for us the folly of ordering noodles in Indian eateries – though we have come across a few exceptions.

At $17.50, this over-priced for a very average noodle outing – though the serve is bigger, and deeper, that it first appears.

Really, either of the cheapie noodle houses a block away would do better for a quick, wok noodle fry-up.

Unfortunately, Bennie completes his dinner before mine arrives – and by now I’m wishing we’d gone elsewhere.

 

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My Amritsari kulcha ($16.50) does, however, redeem our night handily – especially when the second, advertised naan arrives.

The naan have only the very faintest paneer quotient, but are hot, lovely and slathered with ghee.

The chick peas are the same dark and overtly al dente specimens served with our earlier thalis and the raita is, again superb.

Check out the Nawab Sahab website – including menu – here.

 

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More dosa room in Tarneit

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hut24

 

Dosa Hut, Wyndham Village Shopping Centre, 380 Sayers Road, Tarneit. Phone: 8742 4263

We’re in Tarneit for the opening of Dosa Hut.

Well, not quite – we’ve been here before and this Dosa Hut branch has been open for a while.

But Dosa Hut Tarneit IS having something of an event to celebrate the unveiling of its extended premises.

There’s a buzz about the place, there’s VIPs and music and some speechifying.

Dosas – or, more accurately, dosas and the range of other Indian food that such places offer – are big business in the west these days.

So much so that even those Indian places that have generally long focussed on more regular curry fare have been forced to extend their menus to encompass dosas … and idlis and vadas and Indo-Chinese goodies.

 

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Competition is fierce – there’s four Dosa Hut joints across the city now.

And here in Tarneit, Dosa Hut is going head to head with Dosa Corner – just as they do in West Footscray.

But it’s worth remembering that it was Dosa Hut West Footscray that first brought dosas to the west – and it’s on that basis that we’re happy to drop into the Tarneit office on this auspicious evening.

The menu appears to be the same, longish affair – and with quite a number of dishes struck out.

But nevertheless, we have a ball ordering a couple of dishes that offer points of difference and find everything delicious.

 

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Beaut idlis are brought to our table soon after we have ordered – and on the house.

They make a nice light start – though at this point we fear way too much food may be coming our way.

 

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Pav bhaji ($9.95) is a Mumbai-style snack dish – and utterly simple and wonderful.

The potato-based, mild vegetable curry is tremendous while the buttered rolls belie, I suspect, a lingering influence of English colonial days.

 

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After experiencing some overly damp and flaccid Indo-Chinese food in recent times, it’s a joy to lay eyes on and devour this crispy goat ($12.95).

It’s dry, chewy, boneless and fragrant, the jumble of diced veg resembling the sort of trimmings that come with salt-and-pepper dishes in Malaysian and Chinese places.

 

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Regular chicken biryani ($11.95) is really fine, as expected, all the bits and pieces in good order.

We depart full and very happy, only to discover a red carpet has been laid out since our arrival.

We give it a strutting, opening-night whirl anyway.

 

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Got the Punjab covered

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Sada Bahaar, 308 Ballarat Road, Braybrook.

When Sadia – that’s her on the left – arrived in Australia from Pakistani Punjab about four years ago, she quickly realised she was going to need a driver’s licence for her new life.

In the course of obtaining one, her driving instructor was Ravinder – that’s her on the right – who hails from Indian Punjab.

Out of that experience grew a friendship and now a restaurant.

And along the way, Sadia, too, has become a driving instructor.

Sada Bahaar (it means ever-green) is situated on a stretch of Ballarat Road that is never, ever going to win any beauty contests.

But it is showing signs of increasing foodiness, what with the presence of a long-time Sri Lankan place we have yet to cover, a much newer, cheap ‘n’ cheerful Sri Lankan place, as well as a burger joint. Also nearby, just around the corner really, is the wonderful West of Kin.

 

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The origins in friendship of Sada Bahaar imbue this comfy eatery with a vibe that is almost unRestaurant – the same person who takes your order is also going to be among those knocking your food together in the kitchen.

We like that.

We like, too, the chance to explore some different and Pakistani dishes from the usual Indian stuff we devour on a weekly (at least) basis.

To that end, our very good buddy Nat Stockley has already made inquiries along those lines even before Bennie and I rock up.

We enjoy a very tasty meal that blends Indian and Pakistani tucker in fine home-cooked style.

 

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Dahi bhalay ($7.50) are deep-fried urad dal dumplings served with spiced yogurt, chick peas and onion bits.

They are also very nice – the blandness of the dumplings (they have, for all of us, a touch of the felafel about them) offset by the tangy toppings.

 

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Haleem is not so much a Pakistani dish but more a staple – made of grains, pulses, meat – across the Muslim world that is often associated with Ramadam.

This chicken version ($10) is very soup-like, the chook so finely minced that it all becomes one with the ingredients.

With its cool fried-onion topping, it reminds me of our favourite Iraqi soup.

 

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From the tight barbecue section of the menu we get lamb seekh kebab ($10) – two long, skinless snags of minced lamb that is quite crumbly but nevertheless delicious.

 

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All too often, the chick peas we get in Indian restaurants seem to be getting a bit tired on it.

By contrast, the Sada Bahaar Lahori cholay ($10) smacks of freshly cooked – but with the gravy and intact pulses nicely integrated.

And as you can see by the many flecks of chilli, this is quite highly spiced food – as are most of our dishes.

 

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Sada Bahaar special kahari ($14) is the triumph of the night and our meal.

A rich (and, yes, rather oily) chook curry, it has high-impact flavours that are boosted to another, higher level by the dish being festooned with many ginger strands and discs of fresh, green chilli.

The chicken pieces are quite bony, and some of our party get more meat than others, but this is a beauty.

 

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We get one each of the regular and garlic naans ($1 each, both pictured above) – they’re OK but unusual in that they’re more like flat bread than most naan we eat.

I prefer the chapati ($1, not pictured) we also order.

 

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On earlier, reconnaissance visit by myself, I enjoyed the very affordable ($9.95) chicken biryani – it’s a rather dry version, but the flavours are all there, the raita joined in this case by a plate of salad veg instead of the more usual gravy.

Sadia tells us that much praise for her cooking was often attended by suggestions she should start a restaurant.

We’re glad she’s spreading some of that love around.

Especially given the low prices and welcoming, low-key ambience.

Thanks to Nat Stockley for help with the pics.

 

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Indian surprise

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ethnic7

 

Ethnic India, 4/2-6 Kilmur Road, Hoppers Crossing. Phone: 9369 4133

Ethnic India is located on the Golden Mile in Hoppers Crossing, on one of the light industrial/commercial precincts that are offshoots of it.

When I Bennie and I arrive for our Sunday lunch, I get a surprise.

I’d visited on my own several months previously for a quick look and lunch.

At that time, I reckoned Ethnic India must have been easily the biggest Indian restaurant in Melbourne, taking up a whole warehouse.

Through the use of screens and such like, efforts had been made to create a separate restaurant space from the bar, functions rooms, kitchen and so on.

But, basically, it was a huge space.

What Bennie and I find is quite different.

The proprietors have pretty much created a building within a building – all the same facilities remain but they are much more strictly defined.

 

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They include a restaurant space that is the typical flash of some Indian places – including tall-backed chairs so lavishly cushioned that, upon sitting, you feel like you are sinking almost until your chin rests on the table.

On this day, there are a heaps of guests arriving for a catered birthday party out back, but we are the only restaurant guests.

The very long menu (see below) is presented on both sides of two wooden paddles.

We proceed to enjoy a fine light lunch.

Onion bhaji ($8.50, top photograph) are less like the Indian-style onion rings we are expecting and more like pakoras.

They’re good, though, and nicely moist. We take two of them home for Bennie’s next-day school lunch.

 

 

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Cholle bhature is also very good, if a bit pricey at $15 for a snack-style offering.

The chick peas are excellent – they seem fresher than is often the case with this dish and are mildly spiced.

The breads are a tad oily but hot and fine.

 

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The price is ameliorated somewhat by the $15 deal also including this salted “Punjabi style” lassie.

 

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I was fascinated to read this story about biryanis – I had no idea there are so many varieties!

I wish more of them were available in Melbourne!

I think the mostly uniform biryanis we eat in and around West Footscray are of the Hyderabad kind.

The Ethnic India lamb biryani ($15) is a significant contrast.

All is different from what we are familiar with – the seasoning (mild chilli levels); the colour; the inclusion of many currants, cashes and green capsicum pieces; lamb chunks not on the bone but instead of the kind you’d find in a regular curry – most welcome!

There’s a hefty serve of raita on the side to complete a solid offering.

Ethnic India is well worth a try – and parking is a breeze.

 

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Meal of the week No.29: Bollywood Sweet Bazaar

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Bollywood Sweet Bazaar has been open a couple of months at shop 2/49 Synnot Street, Werribee, specialising in “pure ghee sweets” and a colourful Bollywood theme.

But they do savory snacks and the like, too.

Top of the list is this puri aloo sabzi for $9.

How good is it for $9?

Three rather doughy but very nice puris, a runny but good chick pea curry, yogurt adorned with puffed rice, pickle and a super potato/onion curry seasoned with mustard seeds, curry leaves and fresh coriander.

It’s a righteous, bargain-priced flavour blast.

I’m betting the two pieces of chocolate barfi I depart with are the good, too!

 

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Nice Indian mix, great prices

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chutneys9

 

Chutneys, 8/1 Elgar Road, Derrimut. Phone: 8361 7588

There’s Indian food in the Derrimut area, but this new place Chutneys is worthy of celebration because it’s the first of its kind there.

No butter chicken at this place.

But there is Indo-Chinese, biryanis, dosas, chaat dishes, uttapams and thalis – all at very cheap prices and served up in friendly cafe-style premises (see menu below).

 

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Vegetarian thali hits the spot with its recipient, CTS pal Marnie, who works her way through the lot …

Sambar (as served with dosas), dal, a suitably mushy vegetable curry with good knobs of cauliflower and a very good dry carrot curry.

There’s raita and a papadum joining the rice and the deal is sealed with some good, sweet halva.

Nice job for $10.95.

My vegetable uttapam ($10.95, top photograph) is just as good.

The “pizza” is fresh, hot and moist in its centre, and goes just right with the same accoutrements served with dosas and idlys.

 

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On an earlier visit with the Nat Stockley crew, our choices run to the Indo-Chinese portion of the menu.

The prawn noodles ($14.95) are a highlight – fresh, light and expertly cooked with as little oil as the kitchen could get away with.

 

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The pepper chicken ($11.95) is another good ‘un and very tasty.

 

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For our other choices we select from the “wet” Indo-Chinese options with somewhat mixed results.

The chilli fish ($13.95) is lovely, but …

 

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… the chilli chicken ($11.95) and …

 

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… gobi Manchurian ($11.95), while also enjoyable, have a certain sameness about them in terms of seasoning, texture and flavour.

Still, these are small quibbles given the prices and location.

Chutneys will doubtless become very popular.

Memo to self: When ordering Indo-Chinese, stick with the dry option!

 

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