South Indian Cuisine? Aren’t all Indian food the same? I must admit, when I think Indian food I straight away think about naan, lentils, chicken tikka masala and butter chicken. This evening Chef Mohammad Sali takes my guest and I on a journey to discover Kerala cuisine in a very diverse way. The name Malabar, comes from an area in Kerala and was the name of the spice ship that sailed from Europe to Australia.
Generally speaking, South Indian cooking is based around rice, lentils, and stews. Dishes such as dosa (a lentil and rice crêpe), idli (steamed lentil rice cakes), saaru/rasam (tomato, tamarind, and lentil soup), and huli/sambar (spicy lentil and vegetable stew) are all from the South.
For a Tuesday night was pretty quiet when we arrived, it was only 6.30pm (early dinner eaters we were). This soon changed in half and hour and the locals of Darlinghurst were out and about.
The menu was quite extensive, but easy to understand – the best approach is to share a number of dishes and ask for recommendations. Oh, if you like your dishes hot or mild, the staff and chef are more than happy to help.
So on the menu this evening, Chef had brought out a number of dishes and I can guarantee you that I couldn’t finish it all and had to take some home with me. That’s when you know, I enjoyed a lot of the flavours I couldn’t leave home without some.
Check out my photo gallery for all the dishes we ate, but for now, here are my top picks of the evening.
I never tried Kheema Dosai before, it looked like a crepe (rolled pancake) when it arrived. There is something so perfect in the combination of the crispness and nutty flavor of this dosa – made from a batter of ground rice and dal. It was filled with homemade lamb mince with fenugreek, fresh ginger and a hint of cinnamon. With a side of spicy sambar and coconut chutney.
All of our mains came out together and the table was filling up with different flavours and textures. I’m a bit of a rice eater when it comes to curries. The basmati rice was really to soak up the juices of each of the dishes. From the South-West of India, the Goan Fish Curry carries a distinct flavour of green chilli, softened by light coconut milk and kokum. Seasoned with turmeric, cumin and coriander seeds that doesn’t overpower the fish. The slow cooked Goat Mappas is a young kid marinated with turmeric and chilli was simmering in a coconut milk and green chilli and ginger. Have you notice a trend in the ingredients? The flavours are very aromatic to the nose, Coconut is an essential ingredient in most of the food items and is liberally used. Up next is the boneless Duck Moilee with fennel seeds, red chilli, ginger a coconut milk. I couldn’t describe my taste as I was left with no words and enjoying the meal.
What I thoroughly enjoyed was how tender all the meat were. If any of the meat were on the bone, it would naturally shred itself from the fork.
Speaking of fork, I had to put mine down and take a rest. My friend and I continued the evening finishing off a lovely bottle of Zinio Bodegas Rose (Rioja, Spain). Chef was more than happy to share with us tales of his achievements with Malabar. Malabar in Darlinghurst was established in 2003, what an amazing achievement. True to his nature, the ingredients is what makes the dish and by sourcing the best produce around, the taste sensation is amidable.
Lastly before I conclude the evening. There was room for light treat and one of my favourite type of dessert, Kulfi. The Duo of Kulfi solves any sort of “there is no room for more food”. I like to say “ice-cream melts between the spaces”. One half is mango while the other is pistachio and saffron. Such a delite.
This 110 seated dining at Malabar, is one of the most atmospheric and comfortable restaurants in the Darlinghurst area. Perfect for large group tables, through to intimate tables for two and takeaway. Located within an easy walk of trains, and parking, it’s definitely my pick to satisfy your Indian craving.
Lunch: Wed – Sun 12noon – 2.30pm
Dinner: Mon – Sun 5.30pm till late
Malabar Southern Indian Cuisine
274 Victoria St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
T: +61 (02) 9332 1755
Malabar Indian Restaurant @malabarcuisine @malabarcuisine Malabar Cuisine Malabar Southern Indian Cuisine