Successful, modern Indian restaurant GanJees has relocated from its original home in the suburbs, making the move from Bruce to Lonsdale Street in Braddon. Neighbouring popular night-time hotspots Hopscotch and Tipsy Bull, the restaurant has their vibrant personality on full show in the new location.
Owners Neetu Dhawan and Puneet Bhatia are challenging the status quo and pushing the boundaries of traditional Indian food with a spicy, fun twist.
“To us, Indian food in Australia has become boring. We want to change perception, evolve with the times and make the food more health-conscious with a lighter touch. We are using extra-virgin olive oil in the kitchen over ghee, steering away from creams and added sugars and complementing dishes that would usually be gravy and meat with fresh produce,” executive chef and co-owner Puneet said.
“Our take on Indian cuisine is less traditional, more experimental. Less heavy, more fun. Less curry, more colour. Expect the spices you know and love, melded in the most modern ways,” Neetu added.
The menu they have put together is large and impressively full of new interpretations of familiar dishes. Diners can order a la carte from the myriad tempting options listed under appetisers, entrée, main, sides, curries, rice, bread and dessert, or opt for the chef’s tasting menu.
For our first visit, we sat outside. The narrow private entrance to the restaurant has been transformed to house bench seating on both sides. On a warm summer night, I think it is the best seat in the house watching both the action taking place in the main dining room while taking in the comings and goings of Lonsdale Street, all as the sun drops and the sky changes colour.
For our meal, we have the chef’s tasting menu. Ever-changing, it is a rotation of an incredible 32 dishes. Being fully licenced we also quickly discover that the cocktails are just as colourful and innovative as the food. Every single dish and drink we are presented is a feast not only for the mouth but also the eyes – all are very photogenic and Instagrammable.
Highlights included the Naked Scallop Curry, a memorable, fresh and unique dish of individually portioned raw scallops with lemon, coriander, coconut and curry. The playful take on Lamb Rogan Josh is presented as a Rogan Lamb Croquette featuring hearty pulled lamb with coriander carrots, tamarind, aioli with a papadum crumb. The ubiquitous Butter Chicken is reimagined as a spicy tasty morsel presented as a slider. Sitting pretty on top of creamy rice naan, the tandoor-cooked smoky chicken is topped with a crunchy nut dust and butter gravy.
The new location suits them. The energy and food being delivered out of the kitchen is a great match for their new neighbourhood.
“Traditional Indian cuisine belongs in India. We want to look after our customers’ tastes and needs here which is why we have untraditionally introduced pork, beef and seafood to our menu. We are proud Indians, we respect our culture but at the end of the day we chose Australia, so we’ve adapted our food culture to suit,” Puneet says.
“Having made the move to Braddon has allowed us to stay up later, party longer and share the fun side of Indian flavours with Canberra.”