Grand gestures are not my thing. I don’t make big plans for birthdays or anniversaries, and dislike attending parties and weddings held by other people who are into that sort of thing. That isn’t to say I let important dates or events go by without acknowledgement. I do like intimate plans with less than 5 people and where I know and get along with the others in attendance. Anyway –
For T, who miraculously forgets that it’s his (or even his girlfriend, N’s) birthday no matter how many times you mention it to him, we had dinner at Paradise Biryani House. I don’t have a very discerning palate when it comes to Indian food — it’s either yummy and tolerably spicy, or too spicy. Again, my sensitive tongue means spicy food is not my forte. So, I must extend my thanks to N, who does enjoy spicy foods, for passing along her thoughts on the food.
First, the Chicken Lollipop ($9.90), a ‘Indian-Chinese dish made from [the] middle part of a chicken wing; coated with spicy batter made of flour, egg and spices; deep fried … and served with fresh garlic, chilli and soy sauce’.
Doesn’t that description sound yummy? The middle part of the chicken wing is most flavoursome as its fat and skin cameralise together during preparation. Sadly, this dish was a big disappointment. The ‘lollipops’ looked the part but neither looked nor tasted anything like a chicken wing. The meat was dry, with none of the juicy meat and fat you’d expect of a chicken wing. The batter was not spicy in the least, and there was no sign of the fresh garlic, chilli or soy sauce promised in the menu. Along with the super small size of the dish, this was a major miss.
The Chicken 65 ($9.90) arrives next. It’s a ‘famous south Indian bar food made from diced chicken marinated with ginger, garlic and fresh lemon juice overnight and deep-fried with chick pea flour finished with a touch of curry leaves and garnished with red onions’.
N describes this as a ‘non-spicy chicken tikka’, which she considers to be blow-your-head-off-spicy. We both thought the dish was rather disappointing, though, as you couldn’t taste any of the ginger or garlic or lemon (other than the juice from the fresh lemon slice) that they marinated it with. And while the food on the plate looks somewhat more substantial than the Chicken Lollipops, after eating the chicken, you were left with half a plate of the chick pea batter that was supposed to be coating the chicken — that all fell of with the sauce. Deep fried food should be crunchy on the outside!
A diced lamb dish arrives at our table next. We don’t quite catch its name from the waiter, so we assume it’s part of the lamb korma we ordered (we find out later that it’s not, when the lamb korma arrives). It tastes a lot like slightly tough slow cooked beef cheeks. N describes it as being like beef jerky, but I don’t think it was that dry or tough. We were holding out for the bill to find out what this dish was, but they didn’t charge us for it. From a squiz at the menu, I’m fairly certain it’s the Gonguga Mutton ($14.90).
There was bound to be at least one dish we loved — the Butter Chicken ($14.90) or ‘tandoori chicken fillets in a tomato and creamy sauce’. It’s a sweet, super rich and smooth curry. I love dipping naan bread into this sauce. The chicken pieces are also super tender and juicy. Everything just works with this dish. Though I’d have to agree with D that while I love this curry, by the end of the bowl the coconut cream becomes a bit too much. Before then, it’s perfect: it’s fragrant, it’s spicy (in the flavour, rather than heat sense), it’s vibrant.
We ordered the Lamb Korma ($14.90) as our second curry. It’s ‘succulent diced lamb cooked in a mild cashew-nut sauce flavoured with garam masala spices. This is another sweet curry, and as with most lamb dishes its gamy flavours are pretty evident, which makes it a very ‘meaty’ curry. I prefer chicken over lamb so I’ll always prefer the butter chicken even though the flavours of the lamb korma are subtler.
And then naan bread ($2.50 for plain; $2.90 for garlic) of course! We ordered a couple of the garlic ones to begin with and later switched to the plain ones as you’re not able to tell the difference after it’s mopped up the curries. The naan is made fresh to order and piping hot and delicious!
While there’s some misses, we’ll always be back for the butter chicken.
Paradise Biryani House is located at 4 George St, North Strathfield NSW 2137.