Fascinating India – the second most populated country in the world after China, with 1.1 billion people. It is a colourful country. The food culture is as colourful as its people, characterised by its use of various spices and herbs. The food varies from region to region, reflecting the varied demographics of the ethnically diverse Indian subcontinent.
Indian food has evolved over the decades with immigrants establishing their homes in westerner countries. The food is so diverse that it is quite different from one restaurant to another, and country to country. Some people are more accustomed to a sweet, creamy, yoghurt sauce base with less spices and herbs. Others may prefer a more complex flavour with more spices and herbs, and less cream and yoghurt in the food. The great thing about Indian food is that there are so many restaurants and take-away to choose. The menu is as diverse as its culture and usually will satisfy all types of customers – Indian, Asian, Westerners – Vegan, Non-Vegan and Vegetarian. It is interesting to note that the food and flavour of an Indian Malaysian restaurant in Penang, Malaysia can be very different from the Indian food in Australia. Even so, compare to Indian restaurants in England, which is very “English-nised” in my opinion.
We have our own individual tastes and Indian food being so diverse; it is hard not to have our own favourite restaurant. When I lived in Blackheath, Blue Mountain, NSW – it was the Arjuna Indian Restaurant in Katoomba. I ate there at least once a month, dine-in or take-away. Indian food is one of my favourite take-away food, followed by Thai and Chinese take-away.
Taj Palace Indian Restaurant
340 Elizabeth Street, North Hobart
Tel: 6234 4624
Now that I live 60 km south of Hobart, my favourite Indian restaurant is the Taj Palace in North Hobart. I commute to work, which is an hour drive, five days a week. I never hang out in the city after work. So once I get home, it is “Home”. In the weekend, I seldom drive to Hobart at night unless it is to a theatre. So to have a favourite Indian restaurant in Hobart means a lot of take-away (on the way home from work) rather than dine-in.
There is nothing wrong with having a good take-away. It does not have to eat out from the cheap plastic rectangular container. It can be fun and set-up like dine-out in a restaurant, but at home. Food can be served in your preferred dinnerware. A couple of tea candles lighted to set the mood with background Tibetan inspirational music – Nawang Khecog.
Well, last night I just did that. Not the first time, but quite often when I have the urge for a bit of spicy Indian food. So I called Harry (the owner) at work for a take-away to pick up on my way home. I ordered my usual favourites; Himalayan Chicken, Champ Maharani, Punjabi Dal Fry and Garlic Naan bread. All the dishes come with a separate container of steamed rice. Depending on your taste, you can ask Harry to make it either mild, medium or hot. I have tried the dishes hot once and it was really, really hot! Even for me and I can take spicy food, hailing from Penang. So beware. Now I always order my dishes “medium” from Harry. It is spicy enough without damaging my taste buds, so I can still detect the different spices (like cumin, fennel, cinnamon, cloves), chilli, saltiness and sweetness of the food.
Himalayan Chicken – there are many different spices in this dish and very peppery. It is salty and sweet at the same time. It is synonymous of a northern Indian style dish. Taj Palace is a northern cuisine style Indian restaurant. That means, lots of different spices used in the cooking.
Champ Maharani – the first time Harry introduced me to this dish, I was a bit unsure because I have never had lamb chop cooked in Indian spices. But ever since I have tried it, I never turn back and got to order this dish every time I eat at Taj Palace. The lamb chops (plenty for one serve) were marinated and seasoned in different spices, roasted in tandoor and finished in pan with their special blend spices. The lamb was tender and succulent, the flavour of the spice paste and sauce were “finger licking” good! You have to eat this with your fingers. Very delicious!
Punjabi Dal Fry – what is Indian food without a good dal (and naan bread) to accompany the other dishes. You’ve got to have a Dal dish. This is my favourite. It is full of well-cooked mushy lentils. It is garlicky with beautiful distinctive aroma of cumin seeds. According to Harry, this dish is famous all over India on highway Dhabas (or eatery).
I have tried other Indian restaurants in Hobart when I first arrived six years ago. Gheez, this is the longest place I have ever stayed since immigrated to Australia in 1993! I am not sure if “this is it” for me. Time will tell. I mean we only have one life to live. Stay put or experience life to the fullest, and experience new things and new places in each decade of my life span. You will be the first to know, as I will continue to blog about my life, food and places. I may at times run out of steam, and decide to take a breathing space of a week or two or more. Who knows! Human is quite unpredictable. Sorry, I digress a bit.
The other Indian restaurants are Annapurna, Tandoor and Curry House, Magic Curries, The Saffron, Flavour of India and a few others. These are the ones I have tried previously, but none came as good as the Taj Palace except maybe Tandoor and Curry House and Annapurna. You may disagree, but as I explained earlier we all have our own favourite Indian restaurant because Indian food is very diverse from one restaurant to another, and country to country.
Annapurna Indian Restaurant
305 Elizabeth Street, North Hobart
Tel: 6236 9500
Tandoor and Curry House
101 Harrington Street, Hobart
Tel: 6234 6905
Magic Curries Indian Restaurant
41 Hampden Road, Battery Point
Tel: 6223 4500