Review: Indian Accent, the home of old-fashioned and indulgent Indian cuisine in Canberra | Canberra weather

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How many times and over how many years can you order the same dish and still be satisfied? Overall I estimate 23 years at an average of twice a year, minus a few years in which this Indian restaurant changed hands. Let’s say 35 times. And I still haven’t reached the peak of al makhani. Not that I’m trying. Just briefly and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but overdoing it is a technique I have used for a long time to get rid of my bad habits, starting with an unfortunate addiction united to the Mars Bars. I can’t stand to see them. Not so with dal makhni ($ 18), which is a major comfort food no matter how many times you consume it, and manages to feel both virtuous and luxurious at the same time. In fact, I also regularly use Venkatesh Ramachandran’s recipe to make this dish at home, so I can tell you what’s in it: ginger, garlic, tomatoes, fenugreek, cilantro, chili peppers and black lentils. Plus, unlikely amounts of butter. Excellent. This place is now Indian Accent. Since returning from a brief move to Brisbane, Ramachandran has bought out the Melbourne Building restaurant he owned, and here it is, running with all the panache that something like 30 years of gambling will give you. It truly floats in this room. The set-up is old-fashioned, carpeted, muted, white tablecloths, a few nods to India in the work of art. The chairs are super comfortable and I suddenly think to myself, when did that become a problem? There is a lot of space between the tables so we don’t feel COVID anxious. And here we are, choosing between many dishes that we have chosen for so many years, first upstairs in Manuka where the politicians were playing, and now here in the city. But wait. Three small jars have arrived and we are offered a taste test. With an emphasis on testing. What are the flavors, Ramachandran asks, insisting that given what I eat, I will be able to play this game. Of course, I fail miserably, suggesting cassava for the plantain (green banana) dish, and pineapple for the “easy” riddle, a mixture of dried and fresh mango, with mustard seeds. The third is a dish of winter melon, red bean and coconut. These are examples of a take-out offer that Ramachandran now offers to its regular customers. He cooks these dishes himself; they are all vegetarians, easily vegan and based on home cooking. He says he’s consulting with his mother, who turned 90 in Bombay this year, to check recipes and details of South Indian dishes. So we’re on the list and anticipating our first tiffin set this weekend. What a great way to eat. These dishes are not what you find on the restaurant menu, which lists much more familiar and rich Indian curries. Rich is the key word. The sauces are thick, the flavors intense, and the luxury and mouthfeel is high. Butter Chicken ($ 20.90) is an easy favorite, chunky chicken pieces, in a sweet tomato sauce. We always order one of the goat dishes for the rough dark meat and the heat that goes with it. On this occasion, it’s a Ragistani lal maas goat cheese curry ($ 22.90). The depth, warmth and dark spices carry this one. Bagara baingan ($ 19.90) is a dish of three young eggplants sitting in a peanut, poppy seed, sesame, and coconut sauce. They are pretty and the silky flesh is an opposite to the thick and intense sauce. A favorite dish is the palak papdi chaat ($ 14.90), which we’re starting with. Spinach leaves, called “donuts”, are lightly breaded and fried. They’re crisp and light on a creamy cold potato salad, then sprinkled with a sweet date and tamarind chutney, with yogurt for creaminess and fried chickpeas for added crunch. There’s a lot going on here for a rather wacky visual impact, but the lasting taste impact is the freshness. Naan breads are so good, fresh and chewy that we regularly order take out breads if we are making Indian curries at home. In the rose petal gulab jamun dessert ($ 9), the rose petal jam is served with the dumplings. Preserving is a good idea, but I always find dishes that use rose petals a bit like eating perfume, romantic but weird and dissonant. Pistachio kulfi is easier to like, fresh and cold with the crunch of pistachios in the ice. So it’s old school Indian with a respectful menu that offers good ingredients in a set of indulgent and quite luxurious curries. We’re excited to be back, and even happier to have our number on the weekly text list to order homemade vegetarian takeout. This week: Bisi bela bath (I am thinking of lentils and rice); potato saagu; vandakai pacchadi (okra and tomatoes); and kheer vermicelli. Count us on. Address: 24 West Row, Melbourne Building, City, Canberra Phone: 6162 1845 Website: indianaccentrestaurant.com.au Hours: Lunch, Monday through Friday. Dinner, Monday to Saturday. Owner: Venkatesh Ramachandran Chef: Venkatesh Ramachandran Vegetarian: Yes, very good Noise: No problem Our journalists work hard to provide local and up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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