I'm English and I have a confession. We may have..... sort of..... possibly claimed a dish that is not quite..... 100%..... totally..... completely English. I'm talking about the Chicken Tikka Masala. That's right, the curry. In 2001 it was the UK governments decision to announce it as our National Dish. Odd you might think but we do have the right to lay claim to this creamy, chicken delicacy as it was in fact invented in England (all be it in an Indian restaurant kitchen). Now before anyone starts pointing fingers at us English lets not forget the quintessentially "Australian" dessert - Pavolva, which was invented New Zealand and named after a Russian ballet dancer......
I was pretty spoilt in the UK with our fair share of great Indian restaurants to chose from. Unfortunately, in my experience, the same can't be said for Australia. Since moving to Sydney I have struggled to find an Indian restaurant that satisfies my cravings.....until now.
The Spice Room. A great little place nestled down at Circular Quay. If you weren't looking for it you probably wouldn't find it. The decor was fun and playful and really set the scene. Large wooden tables felt authentic and rustic panels and window frames mounted the walls.
"That's ONE small step for naan and one GIANT leap for naan kind."
I don't recall much of what the menu looked liked as myself and Julie happily nattered away while the boys were left to make the hard decisions. And they did good.
Deep fried cauliflower Pakora Pops with sweet and sour dipping sauces and Samosa Chaat, a deconstructed samosa topped with curried chickpeas, yoghurt, date and tamarind chutney and crushed popadoms. The starters were delicious! I mean who doesn't like anything fried? The cauliflower pops were crispy and light and the samosa was bursting with flavour. We were off to a good start.
On to the mains and we were greeted with an explosion of colour. Bright orange, yellow, and red lit up the table. We had a good old Lamb Rogan Josh, Goan Fish Curry, Palak Paneer, Black Lentil Dal Bukhara and of course rice and naan.
The fish and dal were the stand out dishes of this round and I must say, the dal was the piece de resistance. It was unbelievably good and had a flavour so familiar to me but for some reason I just couldn't put my finger on it. Whatever it was it was bloomin' awesome.
The lamb and panner were OK although I probably wouldn't order them again. However being the type of diner I am I usually don't order the same thing twice anyway. I like to set myself the personal challenge of getting through an entire menu if possible.
Now, my weakness. If you handed me a stack of soft, fluffy naan bread and a bowl of chicken korma sauce I would be in my own little Indian paradise. Naan has to be the best bread invented and this one was no exception. Lets just say there were no juices left unmopped.
The desserts were beautiful but unfortunately they didn't tell us the kitchen was closing when we came to ordering so half the dessert menu was unavailable. This meant to my absolute shock, horror and disappointment, no Nutella naan. The devastation was almost enough for me to break out into a tantrum akin to a 2 year old. However, I refrained and instead we had a deliciously creamy Saffron Rice Pudding and Trio of Kulfi, which is ice cream. The Kulfi was incredibly intense in flavour, which I really enjoyed and the pistachio, cardamon and mango were the perfect way to cool off after a meal full of flavour and spices.
It was a great dining experience, firstly because we got to spend time with our wonderful friends and secondly because they helped me to discover an Indian restaurant worthy of my British National Dish. I will be sure to make a return visit (even if it is only to try that Nutella naan).
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Please comment below and let me know your recommendations for a great Indian restaurant because for me one just isn't enough.