While they’ve since spawned a ritzy sister fine-diner on the Woolloomooloo waterfront, the original Abhi’s in North Strathfield is still the place to go for a dependable Indian fix any night of the week. The kitchen doesn’t confine itself to a specific region, cooking with equal enthusiasm tandoor-roasted meats from Punjab in the north to seafood curries from the southern Malabar coast. Though most of the menu veers on the side of traditional, there are still surprises to be found, for example in the chatpata squid – a riff on the Australia’s beloved salt and pepper squid, dusted with spices and served with a tamarind dipping sauce. Pair it with a dry Eden Valley riesling from their short yet functional wine list for an easy first course win.
When it comes to curries, crowd favourites include a thick and fragrant Goa fish curry and delicately sweet goat number, but where Abhi’s (and Indian cuisine in general) shines brightest is in proving you don’t need animal protein for a satisfying meal. The ennai kathrikai features thick, meaty hunks of smoky eggplant and crunchy banana peppers cooked Hyderabadi style in a creamy curry of ground cashew, peanut and coconut. Dive into the veg and mop the rest up with strips of paratha lachadar – shallow-fried flatbread that’ll capture every last drop between its flakes and folds.