A freelance writer living and loving in the northern beaches of Sydney...travelling, writing, outdoor activities, gardens, and Pilates are a few of my favourite things. Visit me www.potpourritravels.wordpress.com or www.facebook.com/potpourritravels/
Published July 23rd 2018
The newest Indian cuisine in Sydney's north
Turramurra's newest Indian restaurant at 1259 Pacific Highway Turramurra
India is called the land of spices -no other food in the world utilises as many spices as Indian cuisine. Each meal is a celebration of flavour, and the perfect balance between sweet, salty, bitter, sour, astringent and spicy. This clever combination satiates our taste buds and feeds our bellies like medicine. So I eagerly anticipated my complimentary meal at the newest Indian restaurant in Turramurra in Sydney's north. On entering, my group of four were warmly welcomed by Kailash, owner and manager, and promptly shown to our table near the large front picture-windows. The stylish decor was clean and bright. Light fittings were modern and tables, spaced with ample room between each one, were covered in crisp white tablecloths. Along one wood-lined wall, cushioned bench seating added a comfortable cosiness, and muted browns and grey furnishings created a modern and sleek feel. Kailash briskly brought menus which were printed in bold print on white paper - a highlight for one who usually forgets to take her reading glasses and struggles with some trends of italic printing on coloured paper!
I was immediately impressed with the extensive menu. There was a great range of Entrees including Hara Bara Kebab (a combination of spinach, cheese and vegetables mixed with spice, rolled over and deep fried), Murgh Malai Tikka (juicy boneless chicken marinated in cream cheese, yoghurt, vinegar, green chilli, whole coriander then cooked in tandoor clay oven), and Lamb Chop (marinated overnight in red chilli, cumin, malt vinegar, ginger and garlic then cooked in tandoor clay oven). Prices ranged from $8 to $20. Being a little overwhelmed with the choice, I allowed Kailash to bring us his best suggestions. Light and crispy pappadams soon arrived, with accompaniments of mint, mango and tomato chutney, and with a glass of chilled white wine my appetite was raring to go.
Chicken Tikka was first out. Tender morsels of chicken fillets that had been marinated overnight in chef's special masala then cooked in a clay oven were melt-in-your-mouth divine. Garnished with edible flowers - a rainbow of pansies - the dish was pretty as a picture. The spices and gentle heat came on slowly and a slight crunch of caramelised edges added a wonderful texture. Mini Masala Dosa followed. This crispy pancake was paper-thin, filled with potato masala and served with lentil broth and fresh coconut chutney, combining several of the six elements for taste and texture. All four of my group agreed the next dish - Dahi Poori Chaat - was the highlight of the entrees. Small crispy puffed bread mixed with potato, chickpea and topped with chilled yoghurt and a combination of chutneys was the perfect finale. After the heat of the first two dishes, the cooling, light texture and taste on the tongue delivered something light and refreshing while still being flavoursome and satisfying.
Even though by 7.30pm the restaurant was starting to fill, Kailash's service was friendly, prompt and efficient and it wasn't long until the main dishes arrived. Accompanied by a very generous serving of fluffy garlic naan bread, our taste buds zinged with the Butter Chicken. Vibrant colours and perfect presentation served this most-well-known dish appropriately. The tandoori-roasted chicken thigh fillets had been pan-finished in a mild sauce of spiced tomatoes, honey, cream and dry fenugreek leaves - certainly a spice I know very little about. It should be a sweet, nutty flavour - a cross between celery and maple. Too much added to a dish would make it very bitter, but the thick sauce marinating the chicken was beautifully balanced and did not overpower the tender meat.
Next, the Saag Ghost dish of tender pieces of beef, cooked with fresh spinach and blended spices, had a satiating, thick depth of flavour. Ample pieces of meat were covered in a thick sauce and, on a cold winter's night, was the perfect belly-warmer. Finishing off with a lighter and more unusual dish, our group quickly downed the Tawa Fish - fresh Barramundi fillets marinated with chilli, garlic, ginger and lemon, rolled in a crusty semolina and fine rice flour, finished quickly on a hot plate. The resulting lightly-textured white fish pieces had a superb crispy, slightly spicy coating that hinted at crumbing but was nowhere near as overwhelming as ordinary coatings would be. The warming ginger hints came through evenly and my partner (who is not always the biggest fan of Indian fare) exclaimed "They were superb!"
Other mains included Aloo Goat (tender pieces of goat meat cooked with curried potatoes, pepper, yoghurt and ginger), Coastal Fish Curry (slow-cooked fillets with chilli, tomato, garam masala and coriander), and quite a few Vegetarian options, such as Paneer Butter Masala (cottage cheese tossed with green and red capsicum, tomatoes, ginger, coriander, onion and cumin), Dal Makahani (a puree of black lentils with ginger, garlic and cream), and a delicious Korma of creamy almond and cashew sauce infused with cardamom. All main dishes ranged from $15.90 - $25.00, plus a couple of Banquet options for $38p.p. and $43p.p.
To finish we had just two desserts to choose from: Rose Panna Cotta, which was rose-infused, and Payasam - traditional south Indian rice pudding. Both were delicious. I particularly loved the strong flavour of rose through the very creamy pannacotta and, even though our group was well-fed and not really in need of dessert, the rice pudding was light and milky with a hint of rose-water.
As the evening lengthened and mellowed, courtesy of the relaxing ambience and bellies full of deliciously prepared food, I couldn't help noticing that, even though Spice Theory is well-positioned on a busy main road, the road noise was negligible. A busy take-away clientele kept the kitchen staff on their toes, yet our dine-in experience wasn't impacted by it. Only open for the past week, I will watch with interest to see how Kailash grows his new establishment. Previously from Harbourside Indian restaurant at Lavender Bay, Kailash has brought his chef with him and has over 30 years of experience in the restaurant game. Lunch-time opening will soon be offered on Fridays and Sundays (check their website or email them firstname.lastname@example.org for details). I will gladly return with other friends as all dishes are gluten-free and accompanied by complimentary rice.
The location is very convenient in the very heart of Turramurra, with ample parking at the rear of the arcade, adjacent to the train line and Rohini Street. Spice Theory offers 15% off the total bill on take-away pick-ups. The restaurant is licensed and BYO and accepts EFTPOS or cash. There is wheelchair access via the front entrance of the arcade.
Great article. My family visited India last year and had a great time, loved the food. I particularly love dosa and not many Indian restaurants serve dosa so I will keep this restaurant at top of mind for a visit.