We are now almost a month into winter and these colder Canberra nights call for hearty meals that warm you right up from the inside out. With colourful curries, rich sauces and enough chilli to get your blood pumping, Indian cuisine makes the perfect winter food.
Last week we put the call out for Canberra’s best Indian and votes came in for many restaurants across the Canberra region. Some of the most popular include Masala Hut in Weston, Delhi 6 in Civic, Mirchi Indian Restaurant in Ngunnawal and Ruchi South Indian Cuisine in Belconnen.
There were two places, however, that were clear front runners – Rama’s Fiji Indian Restaurant in Pearce and Indian Affair in Phillip. I rallied some very willing friends and family to help me determine who out of these two restaurants makes Canberra’s best Indian.
On Friday night we had dinner at Rama’s Fiji Indian Restaurant, located at the Pearce shops on Hodgson Crescent. Many of the dishes are similar to what you will find in most Indian restaurants around town, but being a Fiji Indian restaurant, Rama’s serves up a few different dishes with a uniquely Fiji Indian flavour.
Being a Woden local, I’ve been to Rama’s many times before and it is always packed. Friday night was no exception, but no matter how busy they get, their service is always fantastic. When we arrived for our late reservation, we were greeted with a smile and a very warm welcome.
For dinner, we ordered the vegetable samosas to start, followed by lamb aloo gosh (lamb and potatoes in coconut sauce), palak panir (home made cheese in spinach sauce), potatoes & peas (in a spicy tomato sauce) and vegetable kofta (deep fried vegetable dumplings in creamy sauce). Of course, we had roti to go with our meal – in my opinion, you can’t possibly eat Indian food without roti or naan.
Having been to Rama’s many times before, it didn’t come as a surprise that the food was delicious and the service was top notch. It’s definitely not the cheapest Indian in town, but it is really very good. We had an absolute feast on Friday night and left feeling warm, happy and satisfied.
The next night we tried Indian Affair, located at 64 Colbee Court in Phillip. Specialising in North Indian cuisine, they also have a restaurant in Civic, aptly named “Indian Affair in the City”. Like Rama’s, I’m definitely not a stranger to the food at Indian Affair. Most of the time I get takeaway, but I love eating in too – the delicious smells from the kitchen and the Bollywood music playing in the background take me straight back to my travels in India.
On Saturday night, we ate in and ordered a serve of the samosas and pakoras to start. For mains, we had lamb madras (lamb in a spicy coconut sauce), makhni chooze (better known as butter chicken), malai kofta (potato and cheese dumplings in a creamy sauce) and masaledar baingan (eggplant with onion, chilli and spices).
Once again, roti was necessary and Indian Affair make a mean roti smothered in butter. They actually serve up a large range of different breads, from plain roti and naan right through to cheese naan, garlic naan, peshwari naan with raisins and nuts and even aloo prantha which is stuffed with potatoes, chilli and spices.
And if you’re a butter chicken fan, I am going to go out on a limb here and make the call that you will not find a better butter chicken anywhere else. In my opinion, Indian Affair’s butter chicken is blow-your-mind good.
I had a difficult decision to make this week, both Rama’s and Indian Affair are strong contenders for Canberra’s best Indian. However, I think Indian Affair has Rama’s in the roti department – the roti at Rama’s was good, but Indian Affair’s was better. On that small deciding factor, Indian Affair wins the taste off for the best Indian in Canberra.