Delicious wedges in under 30 minutes

delicious wedges in under 30 minutes

Wedges are an excellent nibbling snack for any season or time of the day. In this recipe I’ve added a few more flavours to make it even more tasty without having to prepare any dipping sauces!

I’m not particularly fond of french fries – especially if they are not made using a frier, they tend to be soggy, often salty and dripping in oil. Even if they are made well, the guilt that follows is second to none! They also taste horrendous if not served hot!

So I believe WEDGES are the invention that saved the day! In the modern world, perhaps wedges have existed for ages; Unlike here in Australia, they’re not quite commonly seen on restaurant menus in India. Often much chunkier, tasting closer to boiled potatoes (yes, I’ve had those too), they aren’t exactly your indulgence food! It’s a popular snack in pubs in Melbourne, often served with Aioli sauce, but again most often they are fried..aargh!

This recipe however, features no friggin fryers, excessive oil or health related worries, I promise.

Extremely easy to make in under 30 minutes and even if you don’t have the luxury of a bake oven, you can make these in the cheap convection ovens/ OTGs and it will hardly put a dent in your bills! And oh, we can make it CRISPY too, no worries!

Delicious wedges in under 30 minutes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 5 baby potatoes or if you can get kipfler potatoes, they are the best to make wedges!
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 handful of grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. You should make cuts such that you get 4 wedges from 1 potato. If you're using baby potatoes,
  2. cut them up lengthwise into small wedges. For kipflers, cut them lengthwise, twice, to make 4
  3. large wedges!
  4. In a large pot, boil water and add enough salt to it (_it should be a tad less salty than seawater_)
  5. Add the cut potatoes
  6. Boil them for 8 mins
  7. Remove from heat, drain the water and pat them dry
  8. In a large bowl, add olive oil, oregano and cayenne pepper.
  9. Add the cut potatoes and toss well to combine
  10. Line a bake tray with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 180 deg C
  11. Arrange the marinated potatoes evenly on the tray, place them in the middle shelf of the bake
  12. and bake for 15 minutes
  13. Move the tray from middle shelf onto the top shelf and grill for 5 minutes.
  14. Place wedges back in the large bowl, add a handful of grated parmesan cheese and toss!

Notes

Patting the par-boiled potatoes dry isn't paramount, I've tried both ways, but patting definitely makes it less messier for the next steps.

Baking paper ensures that the wedges are crisp on both sides without having to turn them manually during the baking/grilling process.

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Kerala style chicken slow cooked in spices and coconut cream

kerala chicken

I’ve been making this recipe for couple of years now and it’s a home classic! But last night, a few improvisations made it even more delectable.

So what is this recipe?

I’d say, “Well, this is a Kerala style chicken curry of sorts!” Trust me, foodies familiar with Kerala cuisine will undoubtedly say that’s quite vague. For a start, almost all curries originating from Kerala will feature coconut in some form or the other. That much is granted! The curries will usually highlight one spice, such as red chillies or black pepper, or a combination of several traditional spices.

In taste, this curry comes close to variations traditional in the southern parts of Kerala.

What makes this recipe insane is the unbelievable amount of flavour that gets packed in with simple rustic techniques! For slow cooked Indian curries, general rule of the thumb is to use thigh fillets over other cuts. Thigh fillets have just the right amount of fat in them to make the curries taste delicious when combined with spices. But one of the other secrets to make this recipe hit home is to use chicken thighs on the bone.  Enough said, let’s get down to making this delicious dish..

Chicken cooked with traditional Kerala spices

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Yield: 6 serves

Chicken cooked with traditional Kerala spices

This dish goes exceptionally well with Kerala Porottas. But you can also serve it with your choice of bread or white rice!

Ingredients

  • Spices & Condiments
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp black pepper - freshly crushed is the best, although the powdered off-the-shelf alternative does the job quite well
  • 2 twigs of fresh coriander leaves
  • < 1/4 tsp of ground cardamom
  • 200 ml light coconut cream
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • Salt, to taste
  • Meat & Veggies
  • 1.5 kg chicken thighs on the bone (skin removed) - from Aldi
  • 2 large red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove of chopped garlic
  • 1 cm piece of chopped ginger
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Prepping the chicken
  2. Firstly, remove the skin on the chicken thigh pieces. Then cut the thigh pieces into two lots - fillets and bony chunks. I did this to extract maximum flavour from the bones - we'll get to it in a bit!
  3. Keep a deep bottom vessel (alternatively use a pressure cooker - please vary times accordingly) on high flame and when its quite hot, add in the bony chunks of chicken.
  4. Lower the heat and keep turning until the pieces are browned and whatever fat there was on the bone has come off. Add salt and a bit of pepper at this stage.
  5. Take the pieces out and drain them on a paper towel.
  6. Add the remaining chicken into the pan in batches and brown them lightly; repeat the above step!
  7. Cooking
  8. Add the mustard seeds to the hot pan with chicken oil and wait till they crackle.
  9. Add coriander powder, turmeric and chilli powder.
  10. Add in the garlic and ginger; sauté until browned
  11. Now add in the onions and to it the coconut oil; add salt, stir well and cook for 10 mins until browned.
  12. Add the chicken pieces and give it a good stir. Stir in the black pepper. Cover and cook for 15 mins.
  13. Now add the tomatoes.
  14. In 10 mins, add coconut cream and cardamom powder.
  15. Cover and cook for 15 mins.
  16. Sprinkle coriander leaves (& stem); cover & cook for another 20 mins or until the chicken falls off the bone.
  17. Voila!
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A travelogue of foodspotting Sydney on a budget!

This travelogue will help you discover some of Sydney’s best joints for foodies on a budget! So sit tight and enjoy the epicureous ride.

On January 24, 2015, to take advantage of the Australia Day long weekend, we backpacked to Sydney from Melbourne. You can see the city in a much different colour on Australia Day, making this one of the most perfect times to visit Sydney. Since this was my wife’s first visit to Sydney, we wanted to cover all the major sights. But most importantly, being foodies, we also planned to check out the city’s food-scape quite exhaustively!! To free up some extra cash to spend and embrace backpacking, we picked train as our choice of transport from Melbourne! We also booked for budget accommodation (credits to my wife, Dee) in the heart of the city and travelled light!

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So in the 3 days we were there, we checked out 16 interesting & delectable joints to eat, drink & make merry! That’s 5 bars, 5 restaurants, 4 cafes, 1 chocolateria & 1 ice cream parlour..for less than $150pp

The train timings – both from Melbourne & Sydney, and the relative low cost of travel (plus a low fare promotion) makes it an absolute convenience.

The train from Melbourne leaves Southern Cross station at 15 minutes past 7 in the evening and the journey from Melbourne to Sydney Central takes approximately 11 hours reaching Sydney early in the morning at 6. To put things into perspective, in South India, the journey between most of the major neighbouring cities also take approximately the same time by semi-sleeper buses. Henceforth we chose the cheapest Chair Car seats on the train quite confidently.

First things first, these Chair Car seats are nowhere as comfortable as semi-sleeper seats on Indian Volvo buses. Trivia Although relatively much cheaper than taking a flight to Sydney, this cheapest mode of travel is more expensive per kilometre travelled compared to the more premium Indian buses.

But on the whole, the train journey to Sydney has a compelling value proposition. The onboard pantry has very moderately priced meals and the staff is genial. We reached Sydney on the dot as scheduled, which although isn’t very surprising is quite remarkable (coming from India)!

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======Day 1======

First up was the Paramount Coffee Project. This place has raving reviews and was just walking distance from Maze Backpacker’s, our place of stay. Not quite satisfied with breakfast options, we jumped ship to Two Good Eggs, a cafe around the corner! After breakfast, we walked to Hyde Park and then to King’s Cross, Woolloomooloo Wharf and Royal Botanical Gardens taking in the sights before making our way to the Sydney Darling Habour by about 1pm.

Well, this is the part of Sydney that never fails to impress! Always bustling with people, a sight that I’m sure only Indians get particularly excited by, reminding us of homeland. Clicking pictures we made our way through to have a pseudo lunch at Guylian Belgian Chocolate Café!

Choc-drunk and tipsy, we loitered behind the Opera House and sat for sometime near the steps beside the entrance.IMG_5236

As our heads cleared a little later, we decided to check out Parlour BurgerAs we staggered in, we weren’t quite sure about the place because it sure seemed empty! Probably we were early by normal standards for dinner and too late for lunch! Our phones were almost dead, so we found a wall socket to charge and ordered their delicious burgers and beer!

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Feeling nourished an hour and half later, we stepped out back to check out the area around Darling Harbour near the upcoming Overseas Passenger Terminal.

That’s when Dee told me about the famous Opera Bar she had read about. The bar is rated as one of the best in Sydney for its ambience!

I was unimpressed from the start and at the end of what seemed like a day of standing around waiting for a table to rest our aching arms (with a drink), we were both very unhappy that we came here. It was just a bad idea after Parlour Burger! But then we didn’t let the obnoxious side of Sydney spoil the breathtaking sunset view of the Darling Harbour Bridge and the Opera House! Although now outside the bar, we waited on the seats adjoining, to watch the colours of the day give into the night.

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Now quite rejuvenated we made plans to check out a kick-ass joint before we called it a night! And that’s when we heard someone talk about the 3 Wise Monkeys and that they might have a remedy.

BOOM! We got in early enough to not be asked for our IDs (bouncers don’t come in until it’s really after hours). Not that we were not carrying any or are underage, but to be let in without having to explain “We just look young, we’re probably older than you!” We sure had fun here. Cheap food and impressive range of beers. I got the ’69’ Summer Ale

Not too long after, we wrapped up for the day!

======Day 2======

Sydney has a sweet ticket deal on Sunday. A flat rate of $3.50 all day across all the different modes of public transport. The day also started with a bang, thanks to brain jerking caffeine hit from Kingswood Coffee, a quaint little cafe in World Square. The coffee was spot on in flavour and strength. We also ate a Cronut – the croissant-doughnut hybrid pastry.

That was it! We spent the rest of the morning walking up an appetite and checking out the sights near Town Hall, Martin’s Place, The Strand, QV Building and Paddy’s Market. We then caught the train down to Parramatta for the much anticipated Chettinad lunch at Anjappar. You can read all about it here.

Anjappar Sydney

Our next stop was all the way across Sydney in Manly, the Bavarian Bier Cafe. So after our sumptuous meal at Anjappar, we took the train back from Parramatta to Circular Quay. From there we caught the ferry out to Manly Wharf. Taking plenty of shots of the Opera house and darling harbour, selfies included, we reached half tanned at Manly. We quickly made our way to stop at the Bavarian Bier Cafe for a Hofbräu Dunkel / Dunkel Gold, truly Munich style dark beer.

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Back in 2010 when I first visited this Bier Cafe, it was a quiet little spot, new in the territory. But now it’s one of the many German bars owned by the Urban Purveyor Group, which also manages the Munich Brauhaus in Melbourne.

We walked down to the beach afterwards where it was nice and sunny. It was also extremely busy, so we thought it wiser to wade into the Bondi waters a little later on. After spending some time more in Manly, we took the ferry back to mainland.

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From Circular Quay we took the bus to Bondi Beach. By the time we changed into water friendly clothes and dipped into the waters, it started getting terribly cold. Now you’d think how cold can Sydney get, after all in Jan. But let me tell you the Bondi waters got pretty freezing cold and windy.

Wind causing ripples on the surface of the beach
Wind causing ripples on the surface of the beach

When it started getting annoyingly windy and cold, we made back to our changing rooms and looked around to find a place to grab a bite. We stumbled across Harry’s Cafe de Wheelsan Aussie diner! And I thought diners could only be American for some reason! We  shared a chili dog to satiate our immediate hunger.

Since our plans to visit Sydney weren’t made until the last minute, the FREE Open Air Cinemas at Bondi got booked out. Something unique that Sydney offers from time to time which as a thrifty traveller you must snap up.

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Did you know that ice creams are meant to be had in the cold? Well, I didn’t until few years back, but now I do! So we also stopped at the Ben & Jerry’s Bondi outlet for their creamy New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream! B&J’s are the best for an occasional indulgence, for they are expensive. But it’s not some rip-off brand name like Baskin & Robbins whose value I’ve always had a problem with!

After our nice treat, we caught the bus back to the city. We got back to our room and changed. Earlier today we had seen a Thai restaurant which on further research seemed to be a very popular one with the locals – Chat Thai. So it was decided, Thai food it is for dinner. There was an outlet few blocks from Maze Backpacker’s and we got there by around 10pm. And there was a long queue of people to be seated before us. We debated whether or not to hang around or go elsewhere. Well, as they say good things come to people who wait, so we put our names down on the waiting list and went for a stroll. When we got back 20 mins later, we were ready to be seated. This restaurant serves modern Thai cuisine. Although you will find your regular dishes, most of the dishes are a contemporary take on the authentic.

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 ======Day 3======

The service at Maze Backpacker’s was very impressive and commendable. Although it’s a budget accommodation, there were a lot of features that made the stay here convenient. Not only did they let us check-in early on the day we arrived at no extra charge, they also let us store our luggage in the cloak room for FREE  even after checking out that morning. Our train back was later in the evening and we didn’t want to be bogged down by luggage while we spent our last day sightseeing and foodspotting Sydney. It was particularly handy as Maze is close to Sydney Central and because the railway station storage is charged.

We had breakfast from Joe Black and then headed out into the city.

Australia Day as I said earlier is huge in Sydney. Having lived in Melbourne for more than 3 years, I’ve never seen anything as big as this even with the 3 years’ of celebrations put together! On display in and around Hyde Park area were vintage cars, army jeeps, motorcycles; The vintage vehicles were part of the CARnivale automotive festival: one of the largest free displays of historic vehicles in Australia.

We then spent sometime sightseeing Sydney City on the vintage double decker buses that ran on this day. It was fantastic! The sight from the top deck is something you don’t get to see very often and is totally worth it. The buses are from the Sydney Bus Museum, where with the help of volunteers they are restored and kept in mint condition. Although you don’t need a ticket to hail one, you can make gold coin donations if you wish.

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At Circular Quay, a street busker was demonstrating a neat trick, wriggling out of chains tightly bound around him.

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Next we checked out the plethora of food stalls and free live music venues around The Rocks. We had a plate of dumplings from the Hero Sushi Box. There were plenty of celebrations going on in most pubs as well. Definitely one of the merriest days of the year with people flying Australian flags and chugging down gallons of beer. It was a big gala festival!

We walked further down away from The Rocks, and stopped for a drink at Jackson’s on George, an Irish pub packed with people. We sat at a corner table deciding where to go next. Sydney has a gigantic Dymocks bookstore on George Street, the perfect spot to unwind and kill a few hours easily. So when we got there, Dee walked around the store and picked up Jamie’s cookbook to read, while I spent time reading books from the Lonely Planet section; making mental notes to lookup some of the interesting stuff I read up on Sri Lanka.

Around 5:30pm, we walked back to Maze to get our backpack and made our way to Scruffy Murphys around the corner. We went upstairs to the bar, ordered few drinks and sometime later our friend Amory joined us. We spent an hour and half talking loudly, still barely audible, over the blaring pub music and voices of other patrons.

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By 7:45pm we prepared to leave and walked up to Sydney Central station for our train back to Melbourne. We bid Amory good-bye and promised to meet him next time in France.

This was our first backpacking trip and a good start. With minimal itinerary and planning mostly on the go it definitely was more fun exploring a city like Sydney. We saw Sydney in a completely new light and I’ve not enjoyed seeing Sydney like this ever before.

TOTAL SPENT (for a couple) – TRAVEL – $300, ACCOMMODATION – $130, FOOD & DRINKS – $290!

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The peculiar case of Joe Black

A neat little cafe in Surry Hills, Sydney that has a wonderful laid back ambience, comfortable seating, wifi and decent coffee.
joe black

But here’s what happened at the cafe that morning..

We happened to meet the cafe owner for he was the one serving customers that morning. At first I took an interest in his peculiar mannerisms. He rushed back to the kitchen every time he took an order. There he transferred the orders curtly in Chinese to his staff. Then he quickly rushed back to make conversation with some patrons, whom he seemed to know. He stood there chatting till their order was ready in the kitchen! Then in another swoosh, he hurried off and came back with the order. Then for the next several minutes he stood there explaining some technicality of the food he served..how it’s their own home recipe or something. I even overheard him say that he has a Masters Degree.

By now my amusement had died out! He just wouldn’t leave them alone. From where we were sitting, although I was least interested in their conversation, I had no choice but to hear it. All the while I was a bit distracted and hadn’t made our order! So when the waitress came to take our order, I blabbered something half thinking and asked her for more time. She didn’t seem very happy!

We made up our mind and ordered some banana bread, poached eggs, pancakes and coffees. The waitress gave me look as though we should have ordered more than just that! I have said this before and will say again, I want my peace in a cafe. Nosy waiters/waitresses, owners etc. are just huge spoilers. I know certain cafes where the waiters are walking around breathing down your neck waiting to fill up water in your glass before it’s over!!

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So when the food came, we quietly ate, afraid to look up, fearing that the owner might come around and entertain us. The banana bread was good, coffee served was a latte after having ordered strong flat white and pancakes weren’t too good. It seems like a hit or miss cafe joint!

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Two Good Eggs

This cutaway rustic Sydney cafe sits on the corner of Goulburn Street and Brisbane Street. The cafe is housed within an old factory building and situated at a very quiet spot in Surry Hills. It stands alone in the neighbourhood and therefore unless someone tells you about it, you’ll never stumble across it.

We sat outside as the tables inside were all occupied and were quite close together.

It took us a while to make the order, and when we finally did, I ordered a toasted sandwich with double smoked ham, aged cheddar cheese and tomato while my wife had the Two Good Eggs breakfast. The portion sizes were slightly smaller than most Melbourne City cafes of this size and setting, but the food was tasty and fresh. But there was no standout feature in the food, or the ambience of the cafe that would make me come out of the way to visit again. The staff was however quite nice and the owner who stood at the counter personally asked if we were content with the breakfast.

One thing that particularly caught my attention was the Punjabi chai on the drinks menu. I can quite confidently say there is no chai classified as Punjabi. From the description on the menu, it seemed like a marketing gimmick to sell regular Indian masala tea.

punjabi chai

Two Good Eggs Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Scruffy Murphys

The Scruffy Murphys is a no frills Irish pub in heart of Sydney, that prides at serving $6 pints of the Guinness Extra Stout on tap! We have several Irish pubs in Melbourne CBD, but none which offers a deal anything close to Scruffy Murphy’s and for this reason alone I was impressed with this Sydney pub. Scruffy Murphys has a few different bars and the one we sat in was upstairs adjoining the bistro.

We spent an hour and half talking loudly, still barely audible, over the blaring pub music and voices of other patrons. The atmosphere was all the more lively given Australia Day and there were several large groups of friends cheering and waving Australian flags as they thumped down their beer mugs.

There is absolutely nothing fancy about the food here. It is however very cheap, especially when ordered as part of a drink combo.

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The wedges with sour cream we ordered were quite palatable, although the Meat Lovers pizza was soggy and burnt at the edges! If you don’t get in before 7pm, it’s going to be hard to find seats!

Scruffy Murphys on Urbanspoon

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3 Wise Monkeys

This dimly lit and lively bar situated within the Bank of Australasia building, is a paradise to unwind for hours at a stretch after a long day in the sun. There are plenty of craft and unique beers on tap. I got the ’69’ Summer Ale. Situated at a very busy spot in Sydney (corner of George St and Liverpool St), this place gets extremely crowded on weekend nights. You can enjoy your night sitting in the shadows chatting quietly, down in the traditional pub on ground floor or have a bit of a swing at the nightclub upstairs. Having had a long day of walking around sightseeing Sydney, we preferred the former.

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The food was very good and extremely cheap. This bar made me reconsider what I had heard of Sydney being far more expensive than Melbourne. We got nachos topped with beef chili, jalapeños, guacamole, sour cream and salsa from the late night menu. We also ordered the freshly baked Hot Salami pizza. The portion sizes were large and the toppings were generous. I highly recommend adding 3 Wise Monkeys to your list of must visit pubs in Sydney. The Opera Bar on the other hand is extremely overrated. For the sunset view of the harbour bridge, you have to fight for a table and put up with dressed up snobs!

3 Wise Monkeys on Urbanspoon

Parlour Burger – Sydney’s cheapest burger joint

Known as one of Sydney’s cheapest burger joints, Parlour Burger is set in a classy sports bar ambience. Not the most easiest to find because it stays tucked in, off George Street within the Morrison Bar & Oyster Room. Offering a steal deal of $10 for all burgers, some of them gourmet style, Parlour Burger is a thrifty man’s Grill’d alternative.

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We ordered their most famous burger, the Black Widow – spicy ground beef patty served between charcoal buns and the Original Morrison. We also got the Duck Fat Chips because it sounded very indulgent. The burger patties were juicy and packed a lot of flavour. The duck fat chips were quite unique as a side especially because most gourmet burger joints in Melbourne serve wedges sprinkled with herbs.

You can’t miss this place if you love burgers, cheap Buds to go with and a laid back ambience, all in the heart of Sydney CBD. Now that’s what I call a bargain!

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Harry’s Cafe de Wheels

This is a Sydney classic hot dog and pie joint. Historically it used to be a moving food van which is now permanently stationed in 13 different spots in Sydney. Although it’s Aussie in its origin, founded in Woolloomooloo, the menu features a variety of chili dogs which as you might know have American roots. With bright red and blue neon glow of the logo it definitely comes across as an American diner in looks as well. The walls near the serving counter features snaps of famous celebrities who’ve visited them.

Harry's Cafe de Wheels

We stopped for a snack pitstop at their Bondi beach outlet on a wet and windy evening. After perusing their menu for a while we settled for their Classic Chili Dog served with freshly cooked spicy chilli con carne and chilli sauce. It was a quality meal!

Harry's Cafe de Wheels on Urbanspoontheinsanefoodie

 

Anjappar Sydney

We had heard a lot about Anjappar from friends and family. The fact that Anjappar has outlets all over the world and that Sydney just got on that list was all the more reason for us to train down to Parramatta. It’s a short walk after you alight at Parramatta train station. Well, I must admit it was totally worth the effort.

Anjappar Sydney

Chettinad cuisine hails from Tamil Nadu in South India and is known to be extremely flavourful. It is also quite spicy. But unlike Punjabi cuisine, it isn’t very widespread and one can probably not get authentic Chettinad cuisine outside of Tamil Nadu. For that reason Anjappar’s glorification of this tasty cuisine is well received by their patrons all over the world.

We had the Mutton Biriyani and Chettinad non-veg thali (platter). It wasn’t overly spicy, but perhaps we are seasoned chilli eaters 😉 It was definitely delicious and moderately priced. The patrons were also all South Indians. The staff and the manager was very polite. I even asked him if they are opening an outlet in Melbourne and to that he said they are working it out. That’s good news!

So when in Sydney, take the train down to Parramatta for Anjappar’s delicious Chettinad cuisine and your taste buds will be tantalised!

Anjappar on Urbanspoon