There wasn’t a single Indian restaurant in Harris Park 15 years ago. The only way the thriving Indian community could get good-quality, traditional food was to cook it at home. But in 2003, Taj Indian Sweets opened, the first of its kind in the area. Many more soon followed and now the main strip is lined almost door-to-door with Indian restaurants, grocers and takeaway joints—and it’s not just vindaloo and butter chicken either.
While most restaurants peddle the same North-Indian curries on rice, Chatkazz specialises in the street food of Mumbai, which is exactly what you should order. Ignore the usuals and look for the ‘roadside specials’, maybe a pav bhaji (a soft, buttered bread roll served with a rich tomatoey curry) or a dabeli (an Indian style burger stuffed with semi-mashed potato, peanuts and crunchy noodles). If there’s an option, add cheese—that’s what most of the locals do. Make sure you get there early—Chatkazz is worshiped in the Indian community and there’s often crowds of people waiting in the outside carpark to get a table.
Not Just Curries
This restaurant serves butter chicken, korma and palak paneer the same way you’d find them in Delhi. The butter chicken (contrary to common belief, it was likely invented in Delhi where it is still a popular street-side meal) is textural and zesty, the dhal is buttery and rich, and the breads are baked fresh in a tandoor oven.
Punjabi Fusion may look like a modern fusion restaurant – but it isn’t. This is where to get Punjabi food so traditional it’s almost old fashioned. Take the tandoor-roasted royal kebab, mutton blended with papaya and pineapple so soft it was fit for a king with no teeth, or home-style dhal makhani with black lentils and red beans. If you want to stick to tradition, order a biryani instead of plain rice and get your lassi salted and spiced rather than sweet.
Taj Indian Sweets
What was once the only business in a purely residential suburb is now an institution in the Indian community. Former locals still travel to pick up trays of sweets from Taj Indian Sweets (try any of the flavoured burfi and a kaju katli) for special occasions. Aside from desserts, this spot is also known for great breakfasts: try the is chana bathura (a puffy, deep-fried flat bread with a soupy chickpea dhal) and the grilled and stuffed paratha breads, which come topped with a molten hunk of butter and a side of yoghurt.
Velsha’s Indian Takeaway
At this family-run venue, Velsha’s Indian Takeaway, there’s nothing over $15. The cuisine is Bangalore style, a mix between Northern and Southern traditions. On the weekends, it serves a Southern-style all-you-can-eat buffet with dosa, idli (a spongey rice cake patty), vada (savoury, spiced doughnuts) and various curries and relishes.