Nilgiri’s

http://www.nilgiris.com.au

81 Christie Street, St. Leonards

It’s been ages since I’ve had a curry. I think it’s got something to do with the lack of friday night lager sessions and the fact that Thai food has replaced a curry as the obvious cheap/tasty option.

Maybe Indian just doesn’t excite that much anymore. You get into the habit of ordering a tikka-masala or a bhuna and it kind of ends up tasting the same (especially when you’ve had a few pints). In addition your fellow diners’ behaviour leaves a lot to be desired. I think my last curry was in Bath surrounded by lads on a stag-do which included a member of the royal family in some humorous get-up. …

Yet Nilgiri’s is the kind of place to restore your faith a little bit. For a start the staff were enthusiastic, which was refreshing. Also arriving just before 7pm we were able to take advantage of a ‘banquet’ menu for $26 enabling us to try a plethora of dishes.

These included starting with the well known Mini masala dosai:

A crisp wrap filled with potato and mustard seed curry with coconut chutney and lentil soup. It was good, with a subtlety you don’t often a find in Indian restaurants and made a welcome change from the normal popadoms and mango chutney. The coconut was particularly moreish. I’d have been happy just to eat this for the whole meal.

We were allowed to keep the chutney as we proceeded to the main events. 4 little curries:

We had a pumpkin and lentil curry, which was perhaps the weakest of the lot, with no pronounced flavours, though it was strangely comforting(!). The other vegetable curry was cauliflower (top right), which was lovely – a nice spicy note and a sauce you couldn’t help dip your naan into.

Of the two meat dishes, the most absorbing was the goat in a cinnamon and pepper stew. It was foreboding looking dish with the softest of meat, falling off the bone. The sauce had a growing heat that dissipates before the back of the throat. I wouldn’t say it was a favourite dish but it was a great partner to the other dishes – a ying to the yang.

The star was the Avala Kodi (bottom left) – a chicken curry with mustard seed and tumeric. This was classic in flavour and had a mild spicyness with the mustard providing almost a nuttiness of flavour which went really well with the thigh meat. a winner.

 

It was a good simple meal and a nice way to try a few dishes. They weren’t all perfect, but there’s clear skill and quality in the cooking which lends itself to a more sophisticated Indian dining occasion, more so than ‘a feed after a few pints’. We will be back.

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