I love a curry. Britain is a nation of curry lovers, with Indian being one of top options for a takeaway. I am no different, having been curry-obsessed since my parents first took me for a chicken korma, aged 6. I have never forgotten the flavours; the first creamy, almond-infused bite, the crunch of a pappadum and the sweetness of the mango chutney. I was hooked. Whilst my first curry was undeniably bastardised for English tastes, I’ve since expanded my knowledge of various regional dishes, and I would now happily eat out at authentic Indian restaurants every day of the week. I own a carefully curated collection of spices and cookbooks for recreating my favourite dishes in our home kitchen, much to Will’s frustration when I spill vibrant yellow turmeric on our white counter tops, ever the clumsy cook. I even feasted on Indian food at our local with my bridesmaids and family the night before our wedding in 2016, a rather odd choice to some considering how militant my diet had been up until that point! I’ve been lucky to visit India twice on work trips, to Bangalore, Delhi and Agra, and threw myself wholeheartedly into the cuisine, trying anything I could get my hands on. It was initially a shock moving to Sydney from London, where the most popular takeaways tend to be South-Asian such as Thai or Vietnamese. It took a while to find decent Indian food here in Sydney, as Australians tend to prefer sweeter flavours, but I finally have a few haunts to sate my near constant cravings. I don’t think I could choose a favourite Indian restaurant, so instead I’ve listed out my top 5 best Indian restaurants in Sydney. I’m always on the lookout for more to try, so please shout out in the comments if I’m missing any gems!
01. Not Just Curries, Harris Park
This is our favourite Indian restaurant in Harris Park, right in the heart of lively Wigram Street, aims to serve authentic Indian food to Sydneysiders, demonstrating that Indian food has much more to offer than ‘just curries’. Their dishes are delicious and carefully balanced, thankfully not overusing sugar. I always order their popular butter chicken, traditionally known as ‘murgh makhani’ and wash it down with a mango lassi. I’ve always been impressed with their breads here, fresh and doughy, especially a classic garlic naan. They offer BYOB with minimal corkage on wine, as well as a discount if you pay your bill in cash, so remember to hit a cash machine on your way! They’ve recently opened a sister restaurant in Balmain, which is much closer to us, but I think we’ll still make the journey to Harris Park. It’s hard to beat the vibrancy of the area; bhangra music blaring out from cars beeping their horns in traffic, whilst the smell of the tandoor fills the air. We’re quite attached to Harris Park, after all, it’s here where we picked up our now beloved chilli plant, Clarence.
02. Dhakshin South Indian, Crows Nest
Don’t let the slightly run-down exterior fool you; this unassuming restaurant on Pacific Highway dishes out some of the best South Indian cuisine I’ve personally experienced outside of Bangalore. This is a must-visit if you’re looking for authentic South Indian food in Sydney. Dhakshin in ancient Sankskrit means ‘south,’ fitting for a restaurant showcasing food from regions such as Chettinadu, Tanjore, Kongunadu, Udupi and Maplah. The flavours are consistently well balanced and fragrant, typical of South Indian food. I’ve been trying to incorporate more meat free days into my diet since living in Sydney and a healthy, varied veggie feast at Dhakshin is the perfect way to do this. You’ll find a liberal use of coconut throughout their dishes, as well as some regional favourites such as masala dosa served with coconut chutney, chicken chettinad curry and iddiyappam on the menu. My go-to order is palak paneer, masala dosa, lachhca paratha (I find this a bit lighter than a heavy naan) and if I’m feeling greedy, maybe a vendakai varuval, crispy okra, on the side. They’re available on Uber Eats and Deliveroo, which I use far too often.
03. Rangoon Colonial Club, Crows Nest
This restaurant is one of my top Indian restaurants near me and probably my favourite to actually dine in at on the list. The bonus is that Rangoon Colonial Club, also in Crows Nest, lets me pretend I’m sitting at the club in E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India , one of my favourite novels. You’re transported back in time to the British Raj, with luxuriant furnishings and tableware, as well as dark panelled wood bookshelves and vintage tennis racquets displayed on the walls. The staff are attentive, the dishes decadent and the menu itself entertainingly descriptive. Try the Mountbatten Prawns, as stated on the menu, ‘Lord Mountbatten was India’s close friend and a great lover of the sea. Then Moghul Chefs prepared this dish to be served at Royal dinners for the seafood lovers….’ or the Sultan’s Goat Curry, named after the Tiger of Mysore, Tipu Sultan. I tend to lean towards my favourite butter chicken, mopped up with a peshwari naan. The restaurant also helpfully suggests wine pairings for particular dishes. It’s my perfect spot for a Friday date night for some hearty but delicious Indian food.
04. Aki’s Indian, Woolloomoolloo
This is Indian fine dining with a view; Aki’s Indian is located on at 1 Finger Wharf with fabulous waterside dining in Woolloomoolloo. Aki’s was awarded the RCA ‘Best Indian Restaurant NSW’ for 7 years, and also was included in the SMH Good Food Guide with a ‘One Hat’ rating between 2011 and 2018. It’s easy to see why. Aki’s is committed to serving classic Indian recipes with a contemporary twist, covering both North and South Indian regional specialities with their food offerings. If you’re dining in a group, their banquets are the way forward, with either the ‘Bhojan Menu’ at $68pp or the ‘Chaandi Thali’, Chef Kumar’s signature menu served in a traditional thali at $78pp. I personally love their marinated tandoori lamb cutlets, which has a great use of spices, a traditional Hyderabadi biriyani and of course, Aki’s butter chicken. The decor of the restaurant is tasteful with crisp white tablecloths and lots of light. This restaurant will set you back a fair few dollars, but for impeccable service, fabulous views and creative, delicately flavoured cuisine, it’s more than worth it.
05. Dosa Hub, Five Docks
I was recommended Dosa Hub by a collegaue of mine from Chennai who told me, if I wanted to try some of the best dosa, I simply had to visit Dosa Hub. Their moto is ‘cooked with passion, served with love’ which is incredibly apt. The team at Dosa Hub are dishing up mouth-watering classic dishes with warm, community-focused hospitality, determined to make sure you have the best possible dining experience. They specialise in 17 different types of dosa, which are all perfectly crisp and innovatively flavoured. Our favourite is the palak paneer dosa served with a tangy onion raita and vegetable korma. I was expecting the dosa to be stuffed with my favourite rich spinach curry with dollops of cheese, but instead there was a thin spread of spinach paste on the base of the dosa, which made it lighter than expected and a really different dish. The banquet options for a minimum of 4 people are a great idea if you want to sample lots of their best dishes at a good price. Also, if you’re really feeling hungry, on Saturdays and Sundays they offer limitless veg and non-veg thalis, the traditional Indian meal of a selection of various dishes served in small bowls called Katori, 16 in the Dosa Hub’s case. We can’t wait to head back on a weekend and stuff ourselves on refills!
What is your favourite Indian restaurant in Sydney? Where should I try next? Let me know in the comments below!
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