Australia’s been a little bit slow on the uptake when it comes to getting our taste buds around top notch, authentic Indian cuisine. Luckily for us, the tides are turning and our love affair with the spicy stuff is picking up speed. So from creamy kormas to fire breathing phalls, here’s where you’ll find the very best Indian restaurants in Sydney.
Manjit's at the Wharf
One of the city’s longest running Indian caterers, the Gunjral family has been serving up some of Sydney’s finest Indian cuisine at their founding restaurant, Manjit’s in Balmain, for over 30 years. Manjit’s at the Wharf is their latest endeavour and focusses on traditional Indian dishes reimagined for the modern day by a team of chefs from all over India. Don't miss the creamy Kochin Balmain bug curry and the flavoursome bharrah kebab (marinated lamb cutlets) - they're amazing!
Maya Da Dhaba
Offering a genuine Indian dining experience, Maya Da Dhaba is an excellent option for larger groups. Reasonably priced, vegetarian friendly and BYO, the atmosphere here is laid back and fuss-free. For best value, opt for one of their banquet menus, serving up everything from melt in the mouth paneer masala to moreish Goan fish curry and all sorts in between. Gearing up for your next big event? These guys also offer an external catering service.
One of the most exciting new additions to Sydney’s food scene was, without a doubt, the opening of Southern Indian eatery INDU late last year. A celebration of Indian village culture and hospitality, INDU immerses you in an authentic dining experience from the moment you walk in the door. Featuring an open dosa kitchen and a menu that will have your mouth watering before you’ve even laid eyes on your entrée, the focus here is on fresh, seasonal flavours and innovative pairings that will have you spoilt for choice.
The sister restaurant to the glamorous Aki’s in Woolloomooloo, Abhi’s Indian is quite the local treasure. With almost thirty years experience under their belts, the North Strathfield eatery has garnered a loyal following that sees it packed out most nights of the week. Aromatic dishes, ground spices and full-bodied flavours are the order of the day here, but one of the real standouts has to be their desserts. Don’t leave without sampling the fragrant rose kulfi—a gorgeous pink sweet topped with a sprinkling of pistachios, it’s almost too pretty to eat.
Ginger Indian Restaurant
Situated within a quaint, colourful cottage encircled by a white picket fence, this Indian restaurant in Sydney is full of surprises. Specialising in home cooked North Indian Mughlai cuisine, Harris Park’s Ginger Indian Restaurant offers a huge range of dishes for both meat lovers and vegetarians alike. A cosy, family friendly spot, the restaurant is known for its warm and welcoming service and will happily adapt the spiciness of your meal to suit your palette. PS. their mango lassi is to die for.
Darlinghurst and Crows Nest
With venues in both Darlinghurst and Crows Nest, South Indian style eatery Malabar is a must-visit. Committed to using local produce, all prepared in house by Chef Mohammed and his hand picked team, the food philosophy here is all about ancient recipes and techniques passed down through generations. Put your best foot forward with a starter of their famous dosai—crispy lentil and rice crepes filled with anything from hand mashed potatoes to tangy prawns—then see where the feasting takes you.
The Spice Room
With a vintage vibe reminiscent of London’s Brick Lane, The Spice Room specialises in Indian street food, giving you chance to sample a little bit of what you fancy without committing to one dish. Of course, no Indian meal is complete without a side of naan, so whether it’s a simple butter option to accompany your biryani, a mozzarella and gruyere stuffed chilli cheese number, or a post-banquet Nutella-filled extravaganza, this is one joint where you won’t get away with going light on the carbs.
As a country with one of the lowest rates of meat consumption in the world, it makes sense that India would be home to some of the best vegetarian cuisine around. Maya Vegetarian in Surry Hills proves that theory with aplomb is, serving delicious, plant-based dishes to their loyal clientele day in, day out for over 25 years. From seasonal veggies to home made artisan sweets, this unpretentious eatery is the perfect spot for those seeking high quality vegetarian Indian food that won’t break the bank.
Classic Indian dishes such as lamb rogan josh and chicken tandoori abound at this Harris Park mainstay. Despite its recent renovation, the local’s favourite has managed to retain its much-loved home-from-home vibe. Known for their tasty Thali—a selection of traditional dishes served in small ‘katori’ bowls—and huge sweets menu, Billu’s is one of those easy going, no frills places offering great value food that pulls in the punters all year round.
Image credit: Federica Portentoso at Manjit's at the Wharf