Haldi, a local favorite of Moonee Ponds, brought his tandoor to Carlton North – but not without some technical challenges.
Owners Dharminder Singh and Raj Singh (no relation), who also own the Gaylord restaurant in the CBD, moved from Moonee Ponds to be closer to regulars who dined at Haldi with their families and lamented the lack of a neighborhood restaurant in the interior north offering quality Indian cuisine. .
Haldi’s new home on Nicholson Street is a small terrace. It was impossible to fit the 80 centimeter tandoor oven through the door, so a wall was temporarily removed to install essential kitchen equipment which cooks a 12-hour chicken vindaloo, tandoori prawns and naan bread.
Dharminder (who passes himself off as a DJ) says the new Haldi is more relaxed than its predecessor, with no time limits for sessions and cozy touches like rugs, greenery and bench seating.
“While people often think of Indian food as curries after a few beers, it’s changed their perception, which is a good indication,” he says, adding that people are exploring the menu more.
Many different parts of India are featured, from Goan-style rockling curries to Delhi’s snack, golgappe: deep-fried puffs of bread stuffed with spiced potatoes. A recipe from DJ’s mom involves roasting garlic-stuffed eggplant over the fire, cooling it overnight, and finishing it with an onion-tomato masala.
Dietary requests are taken seriously, with many cooking processes adapted so dishes can easily be made vegan or gluten-free.
The 30-seat restaurant offers BYO as well as Australian and Italian wines, Kingfisher beer and local ales.
Take-out is also available, with delivery via major platforms, welcome news in the latest phase of the pandemic.
As for the residents of Moonee Ponds, they are now making the trip through town. If you ask nicely, you might end up with a Haldi in your own neighborhood.
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
375 Nicholson Street, Carlton North, 03 9349 2947, haldi.com.au