On the northern end of Darlinghurst sits one of the inner city’s favourite neighbourhood Indian restaurants, where you’ll get linens, china and attentive service with the attendant price tag.
At Malabar, they specialise in cuisine from the nation’s south, so you’ll see dishes that are lighter with cream but richer in spices and the use of ingredients like coconut and curry leaves. During lunch, you can order a thali (a personal platter of curry, rasam soup, daal, pappadum, yoghurt, pickles and rice) and receive change from a $20, but if you’re dining with a group, go à la carte to sample a greater variety of the region’s vibrantly flavoured cuisine.
Start with dosa, a regional specialty of crisp rice and lentil crêpes filled with potatoes, lamb mince or paneer, or a serving of cauliflower florets mixed with spiced potato, coriander and onion – a popular street snack in Chennai. From there, it’s all about rich, earthy and punchy curries mopped up with naan, roti or basmati rice. Among the options are Goan fish curry made with green chilli, coconut milk and kokum, spicy beef vindaloo and a slow-cooked goat number served on the bone, while vegetarians are well catered for with equally hearty curries incorporating pumpkin, okra, eggplant, paneer and beans. If you’ve wisely saved space for dessert, they also make traditional sweets like gulab jamun – golden milk dumplings soaked in rose and cardamom flavoured syrup – although on warmer days kulfi, a condensed milk-based ice cream topped with nuts, fruits and spices, holds greater allure.