Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Published August 11th 2016
Favoured curries curry favour with curry lovers
I have spoken elsewhere (and often) about my love of curry. Growing up, as I did, in Natal, South Africa (now Kwa-Zulu-Natal), curry was a very popular dish, strongly influenced by the Indians and Malays indentured into Natal to work the sugar cane fields.
A mutton curry Bunny Chow (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
Durban's great native dish, for example, is the Bunny Chow, half a loaf of white bread with the soft bit scooped out, filled with hot mutton curry and with the soft bit rammed back in - and delicious as a take-away dish it is.
Starting with mild curries suited to a young palate and moving to the hotter, more flavoured ones as the taste buds died off as I got older, curry has been a perennial favourite. And I am not the only one - just Ellenbrook alone has enough curry lovers to support at least four curry restaurants that I know about for sure.
Recently, it was the dark and stormy night of fiction and so we decided to order take-away and stay in.
Kangaroo Tikki Masala (Photograph courtesy of Noor Mahal)
Having tried all the others and found them good, we ventured further into unknown territory and ordered from Noor Mahal, Main Street, in Ellenbrook.
The restaurant is quite new, just over a year and taking the place of an earlier curry restaurant, Noor Mahal offers dine-in, take away and for orders over $30, home delivery.
For students, the Noor Mahal is a palace in the Punjab. Mahal means 'palace' in the sense of 'resting place' or even 'tomb', as in the Taj Mahal. The Noor Mahal is beautiful, built in the late 19th century in Italian neo-classical style.
The Noor Mahal in Punjab (Photograph courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
As a name for that curry house, it is particularly apposite as they serve simply beautiful curries.
The Noor Mahal offers curry buffets on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights for $25 a head. It consists of eight curries, four entrees, two kinds of naan bread and lots of accompaniments.
Lamb Korma from Noor Mahal (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
I have to go back and try that, but this was a cold, wet Monday, so we ordered off the net's menu - which is substantial, divided by protein kinds or vegetable and breads.
We went for the familiar and comfortable - Lamb Korma, ($16.50); Mango Chicken ($16.50) and Jeela Aloo ($13.90) plus some Naan ($3), Garlic Naan ($3.50) and two serves of Basmati Rice ($3.50 each).
Each curry can be ordered as mild, medium and hot.
Mango Chicken (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
I ordered it by phone, collected it half an hour later from a charming, helpful woman and within not many minutes after that we had plates of steaming, fragrant rice and aromatic curry before us together with complimentary papadums.
Let me say at once that the food was delicious, rich, at medium strength, and savoury without being too chilli hot,which to my way of thinking deadens the taste rather than enhances.
Every single part of the meal was good, the naan, the rice, the meat curries - but for me the absolute knockout was the Jeela Aloo - potatoes cooked with cumin seeds and cream, garnished with fresh coriander.
Crocodile Masala (Photogrph courtesy of Noor Mahal)
The dish was superb. It's a simple dish and easy to make, although to get it to this degree of perfection is seldom achieved. It is the perfect accompaniment to almost any curry, delicate, flavourful and balanced to a degree.
To return to the menu I'm regretting not trying the entrées - samosas, onion bhajis, Delhi Chaat, spring rolls, the enticingly named American chicken lolly pops, and a whole host of other delicious treats, most available as main course sizes as well as entrée.
Proteins include chicken, lamb, beef, seafood as well as vegetarian. With some rather delightful 'Australian Specials'. Crocodile Masala, for example ('One crocodile curry and make it snappy') or Goat Curry, Scallop Madras and Kangaroo Tikka Masala all at $23.50.
Noor Mahal obviously has a Tandoor oven as there is a range of Tandoori foods as well as the wide selection of rices - Basmati, of course, Kashmiri (with dried fruits), Mushroom rice, and the Briyani range - rice simmered with chicken and mace (Murg) or lamb, prawn or vegetables.
Each of these is a meal on its own.
There are dishes on Noor Mahal's menu with which I am not familiar but expect to be in the near future - Malai Kotta ($13.90) for example, dumplings of potato, cauliflower and cheese simmered in creamy gravy - now, doesn't that sound good?