As Charmaine O’Brien writes in the Penguin Food Guide to India Indian cuisine is actully incredibly diverse, with the traditional food of each different region reflecting its history, culture, trading opportunities, climate, religion and economy.
This is exactly what Sushant wants to show Canberra and why his new restaurant 7 By The Lake at the Kingston Forshore is the stage for a feast of dishes from seven different parts of India.
Last week Sid from Movenpick introduced the Canberra Food Bloggers to his great friend Sushant who became our culinary guide for the evening.
Sushant is well known in Canberra for his catering business named after his mother Sarla. He is often asked to cook for Canberra’s embassies and temples and Travel & Beyond testify to Sushant’s amazing samosas that sell like hotcakes at Apna Bazaar in Belconnen.
Sushant offered us his delicious Mango Lassi $5.50
(Sweet and creamy yogurt drink made from mango pulp and flavoured with cardamom)…
….and wine by the glass (BYO also available).
We began our journey starting in Sushant’s hometown Mumbai, where the roads of regional tradional foods meet as people from all over India come to make it rich in the big city…
Chicken Lollypop $16.90
(Marinated chicken winglet in a lollipop appearance, deep fried and served hot with lip smacking Szechuan sauce)
This brought back fond memories of Mumbai’s Chowpatty Beach street food.
From Calcutta came our vegetrian entree Palak Papdi Chat $12.90, the finest I’ve tasted in Canberra, with lovely crisp spinach fritters.
(A unique and delicious ’street food’ dish made from a mix of potatoes, chaat masala, onions and roasted cumin topped with crispy and crunchy spinach fritters, fresh sweet yogurt, tangy tamarind chutney and spicy mint and coriander chutney.)
We then met Ramesh, head chef, from Hyderabad who is known for his amazing biriyanis (as is Hyderabad itself!).
Then we continued our journey through the mains with classics like…
Lamb laalmaas $25.90
(An aromatic and flavourful lamb curry prepared in a sauce of yogurt, garlic and variety of spices with a burst of red chillies is a very famous dish that comes from Rajasthan.)
This dish reminded me of Indique restaurant in Jodhpur.
Lal Maans is a dish developed by the Rajputs when out fighting that doesn’t need a frypan and just a few ingredients easily acquired from a nearby village.
The Goanese Fish ( fresh ling fillets cooked in coconut based curry, tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves) took me back to Casa Anjuna $29.90
…and Chicken Chettinad (A classic dish from Chettinad region of south India that gets it’s unique flavour from roasted dry coconut, combination of spices including star anise and fennel seeds) and reminded me of melas from the kitchens of Visalam and The Bengala.
Chettinad cuisine has benefited greatly from the Chettiars ambitious trading relationships with south east asia, the source of distinct flavours like the star anise. $23.90
From the North came Murgh Makhani (creamy textured curry made from smoky flavoured tandoori chicken tikka simmered in tomato and cashew based gravy, also known as Butter Chicken.) $23.90
From Maharashtra (home state to Mumbai) came Kolhapuri Chicken ( boneless chicken pieces cooked in flavourful Kolhapuri style masala) $24.90
From Gujarat, the Indian state with the highest population of vegetarians came our vegetarian main – Lasooni Palak Paneer (Cubes of fried cottage cheese cooked with spinach, green chillies, a special blend of spices and a touch of garlic which gives a unique taste and enhances the flavour of the curry) $23.90
From Bengal we had Bengali Chicken Curry (Chicken marinated in yogurt and spices cooked in mustard oil on slow fire) $23.90
This was accompanied by…
Basmati Jeera Rice $5
(Steamed Basmati rice flavoured with cumin seeds)
Raita (Yogurt mixed with grated cucumber and flavoured with roasted cumin seeds $5.50
And some lovely breads…
Garlic Naan (Fermented plain flour bread cooked in a tandoor topped with minced garlic)…$4.50
Laccha Paratha (Crispy and layered whole meal flour bread cooked on a pan ) $5
Masala Kulcha (Fermented plain flour bread stuffed with a mix of spiced potatoes and herbs, sprinkled with onion seeds, chopped coriander and mint, cooked in a tandoor) $5
Puran Poli – 2 pcs $5.90
(Sweet bread made from plain flour stuffed with sweet mixture of gram daal and jaggery, infused with cardamom and nutmeg, a Maharashtrian delicacy)
I’m a bit of a bread fan, but this Puran Poli that Sushant makes himself was my absolute favourite.
It was truly a very special night to be a Canberra Food Blogger and a guest of Sushant and his team.
Sushant is a great cook and storyteller and has some wonderful ideas that he has been trying out, and still plenty yet to test.
I can’t wait to see what Sushant’s new menu will look like in September.
7 By The Lake is open everyday for lunch and dinner.
It’s at the far end of the Kingston Foreshore that has lots of great newly opened eateries – well worth exploring!