Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Oh yes, Paradise!

SHUK AND ELLIOT were back in town. They dream of Paradise as soon as they land. We can see why this is their favourite Indian restaurant in Auckland, and the number of diners here attests to this fact. It's the best. Chef/owner Salah came to Auckland via Sydney 7 years ago where he had a similar restaurant.
   Paradise is cricket-themed, with signed photographs of Indian cricketing stars like Sachin Tendulkar adorning the walls (albeit taken at their Sydney restaurant) with a series of signed cricket bats, appropriately framed and labelled. Classic Indian Tests are shown on the big screen, on a continuous loop but in the many times we have been to Paradise, we haven't yet encountered India v Black Caps Tests which has been few and far between of late.

   Chef Salah and his team mainly cook cuisine from Hyderabad but the menu encompasses influences from all over India and neighbouring countries from ancestral trade routes. Hence there are Moghul-style food and even Manchurian Chicken (cooked in soya sauce and coriander).
   Elliot knows the menu well and tonight, ordered Biryani Chicken and Tandoori Baked fish (pomfret). I wanted to try the Chicken Kandai. It didn't disappoint us when it was served in a medium-sized kwali, spicy and creamy but no cream or coconut were used. Chef used cashew nuts to achieve this creamy consistency.
   Biryani is one of the the most popular dishes here. You can have it either with lamb or chicken. The Biryani is slowed cooked with rice to bring out the full depth of flavours. The rice is perfectly fluffy and is served topped with a boiled egg. There is yoghurt to cool down the spicy hot.

   Salah says pomfret is his favourite fish. It's a flat fish so it's easy to marinate and the flavours permeate through. It's twice-cooked, first in the tandoor and them panfried with the spice-mix paste on top, served garnished with raw onion rings and lemon. We had naan bread to go with dinner, as well as plain basmati rice. Eating with fingers is encouraged. We can see why, food of this kind tastes so much better when you engage the fingers to combine the flavours.
   Elliot introduced us to a fizzy Indian cola called Thums Up. They call it the the taste of thunder. I thought they should stop the description right there but it degenerates into saying 'it's confident, mature and uniquely masculine attitude. The Thums Up brand clearly seeks to separate the men from the boys'. Obviously targeting the cricketer in some of us, methinks!
   Paradise serves halal food. They have a new outlet next door for takeaways. It's the month of Ramadan now and for Salah and his team, there is the added pressure of having to fast during daylight hours. But we can think of no better way to break the fast than have the food they cook and serve here.

591 Sandringham Road
Ph 09-8451144

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