Review: Relish India, Surry Hills

“We need to start making time for each other again,” I declared to K. We were so busy at the end of last year with preparing for the wedding and the holiday season, that our regular ‘date nights’ slowly fell by the wayside as they were given up for dinners at home so that we could get more planning and preparation done at home. Quality, one-on-one conversations in an environment where we could focus only on each other became sparse as our time was consumed with conversations about booking cars, cakes, and wedding logistics.

Our first attempt at rejuvenating some quality one-on-one time came with a dinner at Relish India on Cleveland St in Surry Hills, a vegetarian restaurant. I had managed to score a Daily Deal voucher that entitled us to two Indian thali platters with drinks, for a mere $19. What a bargain!

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We started off with some complimentary nibbles, which weren’t even originally included in our deal. Made up of a mix of chutney and crunchy fried chickpea crumbs on a pappadum, these morsels were very more-ish and it was hard to stop at just two.

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We got glasses of lassi to go with our meal as well. This lassi was quite a bit sweeter than I expected, especially as it hadn’t been flavoured with fruit at all. This sweeter flavour actually meant that it paired particularly well with the thali plate to come, as it helped to counteract some of the spicier curries included with the meal.

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Now this was the first time I had actually had a thali plate, and I was very impressed by the variety of the different components included on the platter. There was a healthy serve of soft naan bread, along with a large crispy just-fried pappadum and some fragrant steamed basmati rice. My two favourite elements on the platter were probably the small pieces of Indian style pickles – coated with a spice mix that goes right up your nose and really makes your eyes start watering with the intensity of the chilli – and the sweet gulab jaman for dessert, soaked in sweet sugar syrup.

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With three curries and one daal on the platter, there was plenty of different options to sample from. In my younger, more naive days, I always thought that there couldn’t be much variation in “vegetarian curries” – how wrong I was! I think my pick of the bunch here was probably the creamy mildly spiced paneer curry. The creaminess and richness of the curry was definitely the highlight feature – so often, I find that curries are a little bit thin, and really need the addition of a spoonful of creamy yoghurt or similar to thicken it up.

Overall, It was disappointing to see the restaurant so quiet on the night that we were there. Given, it was only a Wednesday night, but I would have hoped to see more than three tables and a handful of takeaway orders in the one and a half hours that we were there. I know Maya Da Dhaba is popular for Indian food in that area, but I highly suggest that you consider visiting Relish India the next time you’re after quality vegetarian thali plates in Surry Hills!

Relish India on Urbanspoon

Review: Curry Monitor, Gordon (via Delivery Hero)

I’m not going to lie to you – I’m a bit of a feeder and have inherited the Asian Mother gene of insisting that my guests have just one more serving, and wouldn’t you like dessert, and please, take this home with you! Let’s just say that I have made cheese toasties at 11pm for ravenous guests before.

Realising recently that we haven’t had guests over for dinner recently because we’d been so caught up in wedding planning, we invited a few of K’s friends (“the boys”) over for dinner and I decided to use a $50 voucher I received from Delivery Hero to order some takeaway and feed everyone up.

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Jumping on the website and inputting my suburb, I was presented with a list of options closest to me. You could sort by cuisine, and various other filters. I chose to go with the first option presented – Curry Monitor Indian Takeaway in Gordon.

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With three guests coming over, I decided that four curries, four naans, and a vegetable samosa each should be enough to feed us all, especially as I cooked basmati rice ourselves in our rice cooker. All up, the total cost came to $80.30, or $30.30 out of pocket once you took into account the $50 voucher I had.

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I hate spending a long time signing up for new accounts for various things alone, so I was really glad that Delivery Hero offered an option to create an account simply by logging in through Facebook. It made things a lot quicker and easier, and really streamlined the online ordering process.

I ordered in the mid-afternoon, and requested a delivery time of 7.30pm. Imagine my surprise when I received a phone call at 5pm from “Scott” from Delivery Hero, who welcomed me as a new customer, hoped that I would enjoy my first order, and wished me a good evening. It’s that kind of personal touch that really stands out as being particularly impressive customer service.

The delivery guy from Curry Monitor showed up on our doorstep pretty much smack bang on 7.30pm without any issues finding our apartment. With a smile, he handed over our delicious-smelling order, and we sat down to enjoy our dinner.

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The four curries we ordered were all quite tasty, but I think the Mango Chicken was a standout. I was a bit apprehensive when I ordered it, as I had visions of terrible Chinese style cliched lemon chicken. The mango chicken was amazing though – aromatic, slightly sweet, slightly chilli, with tender pieces of chicken. The chickpea, pea, and potato curry was also full of depth of flavour – a fantastic option if you’re vegetarian.

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The naans that we ordered (two garlic, one cheese, one meat) were also very tasty, but unfortunately had gotten a little bit soggy from being parceled up in a foil bag for the trip to our house.

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All in all, the curries on offer at Curry Monitor in Gordon are a fantastic option if you’re looking for depth of flavour over pure chilli burn. I can see why it was one of the favourite Indian takeaway joints of my semi-vegetarian brother-in-law when he was living in Gordon, and I would probably order from them again the next time I’m after Indian food in this area!

Curry Monitor on Urbanspoon

Gourmanda received a credit from Delivery Hero towards the purchase of this meal. The remaining cost of the meal was self-paid.

Paratha Masterclass With Sarojini

Have you ever had a colleague that you simply click with right from the very start? My colleague Sarojini is one of those for me. Originally from the south of India, she spent her teenage years in Brazil, and university years in Canberra before settling in Sydney with her husband and starting work at JDRF. I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that we’re quite close – we eat lunch together most days, went to the opera and the Beyonce concert together, and do hang out outside of work with our partners as well.

As a vegetarian with other food intolerances, Sarojini’s food choices can be quite limited when she dines out – and so she makes up for it by being a better than average home cook. After months of ogling her home-made chapatis and curries, I finally went over to her apartment a few months ago to learn how to make flatbreads.

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Her amazing collection of spices definitely beats my mishmash of supermarket-bought spices sitting in a spice rack. Her two spice containers were purchased in India, however I’m told that it’s possible to find these in Sydney as well in specialist Indian grocery stores. It’s definitely on my shopping list!

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We start our masterclass with learning how to make simple chapatis using a 50/50 mix of atta flour and water. It’s very hands-on, and within twenty seconds of kneading, we have a solid ball of dough that’s ready to be rolled out.

Tip from Sarojini – the atta flour that you can buy in Woolworths and Coles isn’t very authentic. Atta flour is best purchased directly from Indian grocery stores, however it can be harder to find it in quantities smaller than the standard 5kg bag.

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Take a large pinch of the dough (vary the quantity depending how large you want your chapati to be) and roll it out with a rolling pin. Sarojini has a small marble platform specifically for rolling out flatbreads, but you can do this on any clean flat and level surface.

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Heat up a non-stick pan on high heat. The pan in the photo (available for purchase from good Indian grocery stores!) is specifically designed for flatbreads and so has no edges, however you can just use any flat pan. Put a chapati on once it reaches high heat, and spread a tiny dab of ghee on one side.

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Flip the chapati when it starts to change colour, and spread ghee on the other side. The chapati should start to puff up and darken on both sides. It should be completely cooked within a minute, so keep a close eye on it!

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We moved on then to making parathas, with aloo paratha (potato paratha) as our first choice. After boiling and draining some peeled and sliced potatoes, add in a generous amount of chopped coriander and various spices such as cumin and paprika. Mix thoroughly with one hand until all the ingredients are integrated.

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Using a similar atta flour dough, take a large ball of dough and roll it out, keeping the dough quite thick. Place an amount of the potato mixture into the centre of the rolled out dough, and bring the edges of the dough up until you recreate a ball of dough, with the potato mixture in the middle.

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Taking great care roll out this ball of dough, making sure that no holes appear and release the potato mixture. You cook this in the same way as the chapatis with a small amount of ghee on either side. Just keep in mind that you do need to cook it for longer given that it is much thicker and includes other ingredients as well.

And of course – after spending nearly an hour making chapatis and parathas and a daal as well, I completely forgot to take a photo of all the dishes on the table! You’ll have to take my word that it was all extremely delicious, and I’ve now added spice containers and a flat non stick pan to my shopping list.