Friday, August 8, 2014

Malabar: A trip to southern India

Nothing beats a warming, spicy curry in the depths of winter and with the cool temperatures of the last couple of weeks, curries have been high on the list of winter cravings. So we were more than happy to battle a freezing, windy Sunday night for a short trip to the south of India via Malabar restaurant in Darlinghurst.

Producing regional Indian cuisine from Malabar in the south of the Indian subcontinent, chef and owner Mohammed Sali and his team have been in the Victoria Street space for an impressive 11 years. Later this year, they're planning a move up the road to bigger premises - judging by the full house and continuous flow of takeaway orders, it's not a bad idea.

Prawn dosai from Malabar, Victoria Street, Darlinghurst
Despite the cold outside, we couldn't resist a couple of mango lassis that were sweet with a vividly-coloured mango addition to the yoghurt drink.

We had one of the restaurant's specialty dosai as a shared entrée, as many tables appeared to be doing, opting for the prawn filling in the thin, crisp crepe of fermented rice and lentil batter.

Inside of prawn dosai 
Served with a creamy, nutty sauce and a spiced curry-like sauce on the side, the dosai encased firm pieces of king prawn in a sweet and tangy sauce, full of spices, flavouring the accompanying tomato and capsicum. My first dosai experience and I do say, I'll be having more of these in future.

Chicken Dhansak
We shared two mains including the day's special of chicken Dhansak, cooked with red lentils, Kashmiri chilli and ginger, finished with strained yoghurt. A mild level of heat, there were surprisingly clean spice flavours in the tangy sauce, with the chilli ante increased with the addition of pickled chillies.

It was also my first experience of Indian style pickles which are made for mixing in with curries and other mains and rice in very small quantities per mouthful - definitely not for eating on their own.

Beef Kerala
The beef Kerala was more curry as I know it, with fresh coconut milk, ginger and potatoes in a mild sauce. The super-tender beef delighted in the creamy sauce, as did the steamed rice and naan bread we had with the mains.

Chilli cheese naan
While garlic naan is my usual order with Indian curries, the chilli cheese offering at Malabar got my interest this time.

Not particularly heavy-handed on the chilli, the cheese is all stretchy, gooey goodness to start but is less interesting when it no longer oozes. Garlic naan still reigns supreme in my books.

Mango kulfi
Three out of four dessert options are kulfi so we went with the odds. A frozen dairy dessert much like ice cream but more dense, we opted for the mango flavour which was the same vivid colour of our previous lassi and just as addictively sweet and creamy.

It was an utterly delightful, heart- and feet-warming dinner on a packed Sunday night with chef-owner Sali doing the rounds on the floor. A spontaneous curry dinner and short trip to south India has been the best remedy for winter so far.

Malabar on Urbanspoon


Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I love the food at Malabar. Their chilli and cheese naan and the peshwari naan are my favourite naans. They're so fluffy with plenty of filling!

Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

Such a huge fan of dosai! The crispy edges are the best!

Avneet said...

I wish I could taste them,they look so tempting specially the kulfi. I can't wait to taste them.

Tina said...

Hi Lorraine - A great Indian restaurant, isn't it? Dare I say, a Darlo institution!

Hi Helen - Can't wait to have my next dosai now!

Hi Avneet - The mango flavour in the kulfi was fabulous :P


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