[invite] Bianca: My exposure to Indian food has embarrassingly been the more typical Western staples. Butter chicken, tandoori chicken, rogan josh… And while these are unquestionably favourites for a reason, there was so much I was missing out on.
Step in Lal Qila, a Pakistani restaurant specialising in Mughlai cuisine. Known for their spicy dishes and heavy use of ground and whole spices. With two restaurants in Sydney, one on Cleveland street Surry Hills and the other in Darling Harbour, King Street Wharf.
The menu is VAST and that is the understatement of the century. With over a 100 items to choose from, we certainly had a task before us.
We were intrigued by the Lahore Chatkhare – spinach leaves in a crispy lentil batter, blend of potato, puffed rice, nuts, raisins and topped with yoghurt, tamarind, chilli and mint $13.90. Unlike anything I’ve eaten before. The cold yoghurt mixture was something that took a few bites to get used to. Cold savouries have never really sat that well with me but this was truly delicious. Excellent use of varying temperatures and textures to make this dish a memorable one.
I am a sucker for Samosa and couldn’t look past the Shahi Samosa $9.90. A thin pastry shell enclosing a vegetarian filling of potato and peas. Finished with a drizzle of sweet and sour tamarind chutney.
A must order is the classic Nawabi Murgh Tikka $18.90. The chicken was tender with a nice balance of spices and that unmistakable chair, denoting its cooking method in the tandoor.
For those that prefer fish, the Noohrani Salmon $29.90 will impress with its generous portion and flavour. Marinated in yoghurt and spices and cooked in the tandoor, the salmon was juicy but overcooked.
Mum has always made her own version of a mango chicken and it was always one of my fondest memories of her cooking. So I knew I had to order the AamRas Chooza $21.90. Faultless tender chunks of boneless chicken, with mango, cream and herbs. A sweet rich sauce that made the perfect dipping sauce for our literal PLATTER of assorted bread.
With our favourites easily being the Lacha Paratha $4.90, try stopping at one bite. I guarantee it cannot be done. And the Cheese garlic naan $5.90 which was heavier on the garlic than the cheese.
Probably not a dish I would pick myself but our waiter suggested the Mudhi Keema $21.90 – w/ minced lamb, fresh green chilli, ginger, garlic and spices. A particularly heady mix of spices with the minced lamb being the perfect vehicle for the spicy and sweet mixture. The addition of the fresh herbs, onions and tomato was the perfect balance to the spice.
Our next two dishes were our least favourite, the Kurkura Nawabzada $22.90 – Spicy chickpea battered king prawns. An overpowering dry spice that made this dish a little too unpleasant to eat.
The Chicken Karahi $28.90 reminded me somewhat of a Moroccan tagine. Having been cooked long and slow so the meat pulls away from the bone. There was an element of heavy-handedness with the spices that also made this dish a little much for us.
Mopping up all the saucy dishes was a serving of Darbari Pulao $8.90. As most of the dishes were meat heavy, the fluffy basmati rice with mixed vegetables was the perfect break.
With two bags full of takeaway containers our pipe dream of a table full of desserts was clearly not going to happen. Instead opting for one each of the Aam Ki Kul – traditional ‘kulfi’ ice-cream with mango and almonds and topped with pistachios $7.90. Easily our favourite.
And the Shahi Kul –w/ Pistachios and almonds. Topped with pistachios and rose syrup $7.90.
The food is hearty, prices are reasonable given the location and servings are generous.
Photos by Alex
*For Food’s Sake dined as guests of Lal Qila, all opinions however are our own and independent.
Ahhh I love a good samosa!
A friend and I visited the Cleveland Street one last year and it was great. I’ll probably still go to that one over Darling Harbour as it isn’t my favourite location but good to see what the food is like!