Paradise Biryani House, North Strathfield

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.