Laziza house

I remember asking a fellow blogger (you must check out her blog at mumchic) if I couldn’t get a home cooked Pakistani meal, where could I go out and eat Pakistani food? She suggested Laziza house in Melba, I had remembered seeing the name in the Entertainment book so off I went with some friends to try some Pakistani food.

We arrived around 7pm-ish and we were only one of two tables with 6 patrons all up, it seemed very quiet for a Friday night. The room was exotically decorated with lots of staff on hand to give efficient service.I was a bit nervous about ordering, I didn’t know what I was looking for, I just knew I wanted to try Pakistani food and avoid the typical Indian dishes. Conveniently, there were ‘Pakistani specials’ and ‘Afghan specials’ headings and underneath was several menu items; we just stuck to that list.

The menu has spelling errors consistently throughout the pages but we knew what they were saying when they had ‘Laziza Charcoal Owen Specials’. We were keen to try things from the oven and ordered the Lahori Tandoori Murghah chicken marinated in yoghurt, spices, grilled in charcoal oven ($19.50 full). It didn’t taste great and some pieces were a bit dry, we should have only ordered the half serve.

Pakistani Specials~

LAZIZA Nihair (Pakistani traditional dish) Shinbone of the beef used for this curry. Very tasty and delicious ($15.50). I thought that the bowl was particularly shallow but I later found that the spoon kept on hitting a piece of bone with a slither of bone marrow that my friend’s happily enjoyed amongst themselves. The curry itself was very flavoursome with very tender beef, I would happily have this again. It had lots of fennel seeds in it and green chillis but it wasn’t too hot if you had lassi on hand with lots of rice.Afghan Specials~

Kabuli Pulao a mound of basmati rice topped with cooked carrot strips and raisins ($15.50). I had had this dish from Koochi when it used to be open and I thought this would be just as good but it wasn’t. I wouldn’t recommend ordering this rice dish, it was very dry and bland by comparison.

Mango lassi ($4.50). I could make this better at home but it did relieve some of the chilli that was building up in my mouth from the curry.Garlic naan plain flour bread with crushed garlic ($3.20). I didn’t like how the crushed garlic was from a bottle, you could taste the sweetness from the garlic.I didn’t listen to my own advice and ended up ordering outside of the Pakistani menu realm. The dishes and the sides that were Afghan and Indian were very underwhelming but I really did enjoy that shinbone curry. I wouldn’t rush back to try this restaurant but if I was to go with someone who knew what they were ordering it would really help a lot.

Venue: Laziza house

Address: 12 Chinner Crescent, Melba ACT 2615

Phone(02) 6259 8033

Entertainment book: yes, don’t forget your voucher!

Laziza House on Urbanspoon

 

Bharat International re-run

It has been a while since I’ve blogged about Bharat International, but I have been going there on and off for years. Although, I felt that the food and cleanliness of the area was going downhill during my last visit and so I’ve held off on going back until a work colleague mentioned that when he went to get some sweets before Diwali that there were new owners and that the place looked a little different.

I had hoped the change was for the better as Bharat International was my window into traditional Indian food and sweets that you wouldn’t usually find in Indian restaurants that have made all their dishes more mild and creamy to suit the Australian palette.IMG_9562The differences are subtle but the place looked a lot cleaner, they have shuffled things around and most importantly they still serve choley bhature! It is still an ‘order and pay’ at the front counter situation but they don’t have the flashing number in the dining area and instead they yell out the ticket number which can be sometimes missed if you’re talking excitedly amongst friends.

I went with my friend who has an Indian background and I had many questions to ask him as I read the menu. Besides the usual lunch menu, the new owners have expanded and added a list of chef specials of curries and specialty items. Additionally they have also added ‘thali‘ options, so someone could taste an array of different things with the added bonus of a discounted price.

Pani puri ($4.99). I have never seen this in my life! It was handy to have a friend who knew what he was doing. He quickly put spoonfuls of the centre liquid in each delicate crunchy ‘basket’ and we quickly put the whole thing in our mouths. It was unexpectedly really cold on my teeth but eventually my teeth got used to the temperature and I started to explore the taste sensation of tamarind sweet and sour water balanced out by potatoes and onions with a crunchy texture. The second ‘shot’ of pani puri, I was more prepared for the temperature against my teeth and it was much nicer.

Have you seen anything like this? If I wasn’t with my friend, I wouldn’t know how to eat this.IMG_9582Chat papri ($5.99). This is a little harder to share but in my mind it was like adding the shards of pastry from a samosa to a pool of yoghurt, tamarind chutney and hint of mint. These delicious mouthfuls was like eating a broken vegetarian samosa with lashings of sauce added on top and I would definitely get this again; I just have to remember what it is called. :/

Chat papri is pictured on the right next to the choley (chickpea curry).IMG_9574Choley Bhature. I still love this dish, the bread is a little oily but it goes really well with the chick pea curry, onions and pickles. We are all familiar with naan, roti and other Indian breads but I’ve never come across bhature until I went to Bharat International.IMG_9572Malai kofta ($13.99). Okay I’ve fallen in love with the ‘Westernised’ version of this from another restaurant so when this didn’t taste exactly the same, I wasn’t the keenest on it although my friends tasted my sauce and absolutely loved it. The little patties were very potato-ey but I found the sauce to be a whole lot of cream and very bland. My friend proceeded to eat the rest of my dish as I moved onto something else.IMG_9579IMG_9581Rice ($2.50). This was a mountain of rice for $2.50, although it felt a little dry even for basmati rice.IMG_9576Mango lassi ($4.00?). Your average mango lassi, I had it in anticipation of coming across something hot. I thought it was a small serve.IMG_9575Goat curry. I couldn’t remember which one my friend ordered but she liked her curry a lot.IMG_9570Masala dosa ($9.50). This was the crispiest crepe I’ve ever had and I loved it. The filling consisted of strong curried potato flavours with mustard seeds and served with a side of something made mixed in with desiccated coconut. The accompanying sambar was nice but being a heavy meat eater I probably would have preferred a meat component but I loved the crepe.IMG_9586A peek inside the masala dosa.IMG_9588An assortment of sweets. I’m not quite sure what any of these are called as my friend snuck off and surprised us with a plate of sweets to share but when he describes the process of making each sweet, it is elaborate! That clear looking one on the right is apparently made from pumpkin; it had a really interesting texture that was really syrupy.IMG_9591The shop is much more tidy and although differences were subtle, it makes a huge difference to the atmosphere and sets the new owners apart.IMG_9564They have moved the freezer section and added more freezers. It looks much better and more organised nowIMG_9569Not much difference in the dining area except for the TV screens showing Bollywood movies.IMG_9594I like coming here because when my friend describes the cooking and preparation of these Indian dishes, it sounds tedious and very laborious; it is much nicer to go somewhere and buy everything you want from savoury items and complex sweets. I would recommend not coming here just before Diwali as the line can be very long and slow as it seems like everyone in town is in there.

King of Curries

Going to the King of Curries was the back up plan after our initial lunch plans fell through, but we were hungry and happy to go where there was a friendly face. Situated on the back streets of Belconnen, I did not know that this place existed and drove there under guidance of a North sider local.IMG_4643.JPGAfter ordering entrees, my eyes starting stinging because my sensitive eyes could sense the strong presence of onion from the kitchen. It was unpleasant for a little while but subsided after the entrees were served.

A simple set up within the restaurant but very neat and tidy.IMG_4658.JPGComplimentary pappadums while we wait for our meal.IMG_4659.JPGVegetarian platter for two assorted vegetable platter – samosa, vegetable pakora, spring rolls ($13.90). Although this was for two people, we split it amongst four people after having ordered four curries with rice and naan for mains, they were nice enough to cut the samosas in half. I found the pakoras really interesting as I had never seen them in patties before. They had an addictive and surprising chilli factor about it, luckily for me the sauce was sweet and complemented the assorted entrees but I did have to suck on my lassi afterwards. The samosas were made well and there was nothing special about the spring rolls other than the fact that they were being served in an Indian restaurant (in their defense it wasn’t like a Chinese /Thai/Vietnamese spring roll).IMG_4662-0.JPGA close up of the pakoras.IMG_4661.JPGMango lassi cooling yoghurt drink made with mango pulp ($4.00). I had to get something to brace myself of what was to come after our entree so I ordered a lassi. It was more yoghurt-y and runny rather than thick, mango-y and sweet, but it did the trick and cooled my mouth down.IMG_4663.JPGAn insanely bright rice to match the colour of my lassi.IMG_4664.JPGWhen asked how we wanted our curries, my friends were lovely enough to allow them to be all mild but one. I’m the worst Asian ever.

Lamb rogan josh (mild) authentic lamb curry from the foothills of Kashmir ($16.95). Distinct lamb flavours with tender lamb pieces.IMG_4665-0.JPGBeef Vindaloo (hot) an ever popular dish for spicy lovers; boneless meat cooked in home ground spices and herbs in tangy sauce ($16.95). I only had a bit of this. I didn’t think it was too hot at first but the spice hits you at the back of the throat later on.IMG_4666-0.JPGGarlic naan ($3.00) and plain naan ($2.50). These came out ridiculously hot and delicious. I’ve had a lot of naans in my lifetime (which by no means makes me an expert) and I really liked the naan here.IMG_4670.JPGPrawn Goan style King prawns cooked with rich coconut gravy, curry leaves and muted (mustard?) seed and finish with fresh coriander ($19.95). Something a little different, although all the curries seem to be mild, rich and creamy, they all had distinct flavours that are hard to describe.IMG_4669-0.JPGPeanut chicken (mild) boneless chicken cooked in homemade peanut sauce, lemongrass, herbs and mild spices ($17.95). It is always tempting to go the ‘usual’ during Indian dining despite the venue, but one my foodie friends insisted we get the peanut chicken rather than the butter chicken. I know what you’re thinking, ‘how could you not get a butter chicken?!’, but this ended up being my most favourite dish of the meal and I didn’t think about the missed butter chicken after my first bite. The surprising thing is that I’m not a huge fan of peanut sauces outside of desserts. It was very mild and creamy with tender chunks of chicken.IMG_4667-0.JPGThere are a lot of Indian restaurants in Canberra, there is nothing really stand out-ish about this one, but it does make me want to branch out try other dishes from my usual ‘go to’ list or at least come back to get more peanut chicken with some naan. They also have a variety of lunch specials that start from $10.00, bargain!

Venue: King of Curries

Address3/31-35 Nettlefold Street Belconnen, ACT

Phone: (02) 6251 0140

Opening hours:

Wednesday – Friday lunch from 12pm – 2pm

7 days dinner 5pm – 10pm

King of Curries on Urbanspoon

Mirchi Indian Cuisine

We hadn’t gotten far with our overseas planning for April before we felt that we deserved a break and go somewhere close by for dinner. I had quizzed Indian co-workers to find out which Indian restaurant was the best in Canberra and they had suggested Mirchi in Ngunnawal. Not only had I not heard of the restaurant, I was excited to go where Indians go (like how it’s a good sign if an Asian restaurant is full of Asians). The discussion came up that the butter chicken I’ve been eating all my life was one big lie, one big… delicious… sweet lie. Butter chicken is not supposed to have all the cream and sweetness that we have been getting fed but rather more spicy, they give it to us because that’s what we really like.

Mango lassi ($4.00 each). It has a thick yoghurt texture but it isn’t like every other restaurant as they use a hint of cardamom that we found very addictive.

20140209-202546.jpgEveryone had a ‘go to’ dish so instead of ordering four dishes between the five of us, we ordered five mains and an entree. 

Entree~

Samosa Chaat crispy samosa topped with sweet and sour yoghurt, topped with tangy tamarind and mint sauce ($8.90 for 2 pieces/$22.25 for 5 pieces). It wasn’t until I wrote this description did I notice all the lacking condiments, we all agreed that these were very nice but it would have went better with the usual yoghurt sauce rather than just the tamarind sauce that were given. I feel a bit jipped now. I couldn’t necessarily tell that there was meat inside these samosas but it didn’t matter because there was a lovely filling encased in crispy pastry.

20140209-202559.jpgAll it needed was a hint of mint yoghurt to balance out the sweet tamarind sauce.20140209-202609.jpgMains~ My phone didn’t really capture all the different rich colours of each curry but to me they were all very distinct looking despite my friends being confused about which curry was which.

Lamb Rogan Josh traditional Kashmiri styled lamb curry with fennel and garam masala (medium $16.90). This wouldn’t usually be a curry I would order and I definitely wouldn’t push the envelope and order it with ‘medium heat’ either but this was surprisingly the best dish of the night. It has a really strong lamb taste, the meat was soft and tender and there is only enough heat to let you know it is there.

20140209-202632.jpgButter chicken tender pieces of boneless chicken cooked in the tandoor, then pan finished in a rich, creamy tomato sauce (mild $16.50). Still creamy but a lot less sweeter than most butter chickens which gave it more in-depth flavour.20140209-202712.jpgBeef Korma tender pieces of beef cubes delicately spiced with cardamom, yoghurt in ground cashew nuts based gravy (mild $16.50). A very nice nutty based sauce with tender beef, this might have been better if we upped the spices too.20140209-202654.jpgAloo Gobi a Punjabi favourite of cauliflower, and potatoes cooked in the wok with onions, tumeric and fresh herbs and spices ($14.90). This had a very rich onion/tomato flavour, the only disappointing thing was that there seemed like there was a lot more potato than cauliflower in the dish.20140209-202703.jpgPalak paneer a classic vegetarian dish of fresh ground spinach and cheese cubes cooked with onions, garlic and mild spices ($15.50). The spinach was blended beyond recognition only lending itself to the colour and not the texture but the disappointing thing was it didn’t have much spinach flavour either. The paneer was surprisingly super soft but seemed like it didn’t have much of a saltiness to it leaving the dish overall a bit bland.20140209-202620.jpgThe paneer was super soft that some of us had mistaken it for tofu.20140209-202744.jpgGarlic Naan leavened bread with garlic freshly baked in the Tandoor and smeared with butter (4 pieces between the 5 of us was just enough $3.50/naan). The naan came out piping hot emitting a powerful garlic scent. Definitely one of the better naans I have eaten.20140209-202726.jpgAromatic basmati rice steamed basmati rice with cumin and saffron colour (4 serves between the 5 of us $3.00 per serve).20140209-202736.jpgYou can taste the love and care that has been placed into the preparation of the food. The meat in the curries were tender and flavoursome, the curry bases all had distinct flavours, weren’t oily and didn’t make you feel overwhelmed at the end of the meal (if you controlled yourself *looks at the boys*). I would have been keen to try desserts but we were waaay to full; there was just enough food for one of us to pack a lunch with an assortment of curries. Maybe we’ll be less greedy with our ordering next time.

Not just your average Indian take out but a proper Indian restaurant that has food you can really enjoy. I’m keen to go back and ask for a ‘traditional style’ butter chicken.

Venue: Mirchi Indian Cuisine

Address: Platypus Centre, 4 Riley Close, corner of Paul Coe Cres and Mirrabel Dr, Ngunnawal ACt 2913

Phone: (02) 6241 0011

Mirchi Indian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Rama’s Fijian Indian restaurant

I haven’t been to Rama’s for years but when my friend request hot and spicy food to celebrate her birthday, I knew exactly where to take her. I don’t think that the true south side has that many great restaurants so I’m glad to have this ‘on our side’.

As we went around the table and ordered our dish with our preference of heat, we were warned that medium was quite hot here and the hot was really really hot. Perfect, that was why we were here and that’s why I had raita and mango lassi at hand.

Mango lassi a cool Indian yoghurt drink, mango flavour ($3.50). A strong mango flavour that was very thick meant that they haven’t watered down the drink to save costs.

20131210-230911.jpg

Complimentary pappadums– they came out as an unexpected surprise, they were hot and crispy just like a pappadum should be.

20131210-230746.jpg

Bhajia shredded spinach, garlic, onion and ground lentils shaped into patties then deep fried (3 pieces per serve $11, added one extra $3.75). It wasn’t that oily despite being deep fried but it tasted much better with the tamarind sauce and the yoghurt.

20131210-230759.jpg

20131210-230811.jpg

Fijian pork curry cubes of pork cooked with capsicum, onion and coriander leaves in a tangy, spicy sauce (MED spicy $23.00). I really appreciated the rub marinade on the pork, it made the pork very flavoursome and the meat was very tender. This dish was spicy but not overwhelming and we all agreed, very addictive.

20131210-230856.jpg

Prawn masala prawns cooked with onion, garlic, tomato and fresh coriander, in a spicy tomato based sauce (MED spicy $23.50). The prawn masala had a really rich tomato onion sauce with a slight hint of chilli. I loved having the sauce mixed with rice, very delicious.

20131210-230940.jpg

Garlic paratha wholemeal pan fried bread with garlic ($2.70 each). The wholemeal made this bread heavy and I didn’t recognise it to be paratha (I thought they gave us the wrong bread), it didn’t have much of a garlic taste to it either.

20131210-231003.jpg

Prawns saabji prawns cooked with onion, garlic and tomato in a creamy spinach sauce (HOT spicy$23.50). I was quite wary of this dish with fear of it burning a hole in my head. It was hot hot but affected my tongue in different areas to the pork and it really hits the back of your throat and your sinuses. I relayed between the curry and sips of lassi, it was hot but not unbearable.

20131210-230951.jpg

Sides~

Dhal thick spiced lentil soup. A great accompaniment for rice ($9.25). The dahl was a happy surprise. I ordered it as a non meaty alternative and a safe haven between bites of other curries. It was a rich and flavoursome dish with the lentils forming a thick soft textured soup.

20131210-230825.jpg

Raita grated cucumber in spiced yoghurt. Ideal for cooling the palate ($5.00).

20131210-231037.jpg

It was lovely to have a variety of dishes that were all curries, all packed heat yet had such different flavours. I haven’t eaten hot curries for so long, I was quite surprised that towards the end of the meal I found the raita quite sour and the lassi stupidly sweet.

The service was very friendly just as I remembered with the now owner walking around checking with the customers if they were satisfied. We were very satisfied and unfortunately couldn’t fit in dessert.

Venue: Rama’s Fijian Indian restaurant

Address: Shop 6, Pearce Shopping Centre/Macfarland Crescent, Pearce ACT 2607

Phone: (02) 6286 1964

Ramas Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Barbeque Nation

I’m always up for trying new places, even if one of my favourite Indian restaurants was across the road, I was ready to give BBQ Nation in Erindale a chance. I was surprised to see it was run by the people who used to run a small Indian takeaway in Kambah village, ‘Treats of India‘.

I was disappointed that with a name like ‘barbeque nation’ that it was just a typical Indian restaurant with no extra ‘BBQed’ menu items.

IMG_5407

A clean set up with easy access parking.

image

Mango lassi ($5.00). A lovely smooth lassi that wasn’t overly sweet. 

image

Patti samosa (2pcs mild) tasty deep fried triangular pastries filled with spiced lamb served with tamarind sauce ($7.00). A moist filling with a crispy pastry that went really well with the tamarind sauce.

image

image

Chicken lollipops (med/hot) spicy chicken wings ($9.90). These weren’t spicy at all but I don’t know if that is because we asked for all the curries to be mild/medium. They tasted like tandoori chicken, nothing too special here even if I love chicken wings.

image

image

Butter chicken (mild) boneless chicken pieces simmered in a makhani sauce ($16.50). A creamy butter chicken sauce but it is no where near as good as Punjabi Hut.

Aloo gobhi (med/hot) cauliflower and potatoes stir fry with cumin seeds, ginger and garlic paste. Season with selected north Indian spices ($15.50). I was quite surprised with this dish. Even  though it is more of a stir fry than a curry with sauce, it was one of my favourite dishes.

Palak paneer (mild) home made cheese with fresh English spinach ($15.50). I couldn’t really taste the paneer in this dish so it felt very bland.

Beef Korma a mild preparation of ground roasted cashew nuts, hint of spices and fresh cream ($16.90). Not the best korma that I’ve had, it wasn’t particularly flavoursome.

image

Naan – cheese ($4.00) and garlic ($3.50). Served nice and hot, they weren’t stingy with the cheese or garlic which was nice.

IMG_5435

Although the service was attentive and the food was served fast, overall the food was very mediocre and I don’t think I would come back here.

Venue: BBQ Nation

Address: 4/33, Gartside Street, Erindale, Wanniassa, ACT 2903

Phone: (02) 6296 6608

Websitehttp://www.barbequenation.com.au/

Opening hours: Dinner only

Monday – Sunday: 5pm – 10pm

Barbeque Nation Indian Grill on Urbanspoon