The best Indian restaurants in Sydney
Faheem is one of Sydney's best curry joints. Fast, fun and incredibly cheap, FFF gets an AAA for value but don't come for the décor, the service or flattering lighting - this isn't the place for a hot date (unless you're both stumbling home drunk post-gig up Enmore Road).
South Indian food, is more rare than its Northern counterpart. It’s lighter and made for the tropics: the curries are looser, more immediately complex, often imbued with the aromatic scents of mustard seeds popped in the pan, earthy curry leaves and sour, citrusy tamarind fruit.
This colourful South Indian street food-inspired restaurant is bustling every night with local families sharing huge plates of dosas, dhal curries and other vegetarian dishes. Order the cheese dabeli, which sees a soft bap-like roll doused in grated cheese, sandwiching even more cheese mixed with potato and studded with spicy peanuts.
The go-your-own way approach to dining is what makes Lankan Filling Station such an exciting prospect. They’ve set up the menu like a spicy Duplo set, and you decide what kind of meal you want to build, marking your order on the white paper menu. It also means that you can genuinely get out of here for under a $50 if you order right. For small appetites there are snack-sized hopper sets or hopper bowls, but if you’re here to conquer the menu order the full-sized curries with as many hoppers on the side as you can take.
Nithik’s is all about cranking out dosas, parathas and some incredibly fragrant curries. Vikram Arumugam and his wife Preeti Elamaran are so excited by their menu they’ll explain each dish in minute detail. Which can be heavy going if you’re really just here to eat dinner. But if you’re curious about Indian festival dishes, it’s worth listening in.
Bang is serving up food inspired by the streets of Dhaka, and injecting new life and flavour into one of Sydney’s most popular dining strips, Crown Street. While it's not strictly Indian food, the Bangladeshi fare they are serving up here satisfies all your subcontinental flavour needs, and they make a great curry.
If the sight alone of pyramids of tandoori chicken pieces, slow braised pieces of goat on the bone and deep fried green chillis in batter doesn’t swell your eyes with spice infused tears, then the house special Hyderabadi chicken biryani at Swagath Biryani House will certainly finish the job. Cinnamon and clove infused rice is layered over pieces of chilli, cardamom and turmeric marinated chicken, then slow cooked until the flavours merge together.
There’s no rule that says subcontinental dining needs to be old fashioned to be good, and yet few restaurants stray from the expected Raj-era décor, those little copper pots and North Indian curries that have been adapted for Western palates. Except at Brick Lane. This is a thoroughly modern iteration of a curry house, which is why it has managed to slip through the Italian stranglehold on Stanley Street.
The neatly packed Sri Lankan and South Indian restaurants and grocery stores along Pendle Way are busy with shoppers and diners stocking up on dried goods, curry spices and something readymade to take home for dinner. The most popular choice is a curry plate, and the place to get it is Abie’s Vegetarian Takeaway. Here, you’ll find all the colours of the edible rainbow in the 20 different all-veg curries on offer, where tropical island flavours mix with Subcontinental spice.
Thaalis: the best of everything in the restaurant, all on one plate. We love eating everything compartmentalised on a little silver tray – it's the only way to ensure our food items don't touch each other. Get in early on the weekends for Indian breakfast, too.
Situated right beside Seven Hills train station, this Indian-Sri Lankan restaurant-cum-takeaway feels a bit tired and worn, boasting that aggressive neon lighting so familiar from India. Although it’s quiet when we walk in at 8pm; by 9pm there’s a far more bustling crowd.
Indu promises to replicate “village inspired” Indian dishes in Sydney. Owner Sam Prince has Indian and Sri Lankan heritage, and he used contacts in his mother’s home country to hook Indu up with a charity which supports widows displaced by the Sri Lankan Civil War into employment. This isn’t just a restaurant; it’s also a charity.
Spice of Life is a different restaurant every time you visit. Some nights the expansive, if utilitarian, dining room is as sparsely populated as the cinema at 10am midweek. Other nights the restaurant, which is flanked by two large function rooms, is hosting a wedding reception on one end and a tween girl’s massive coming of age party on the other, with Bollywood hits ringing out from each side and jangling in the middle.
Imagine a pancake crossed with a crepe, a bowl shape that’s bubbly and soft in the middle with edges that thin out to a golden crunch. You might call this bliss. Sri Lankans just call them hoppers, a street food snack that’s eaten from breakfast through to dinner. Amma’s Modern Kitchen pumps out hoppers all day, at prices that’ll justify the trek to Toongabbie.
The space? A converted house recreated as an India-style ‘haveli’ (or mansion). The menu itself? It tempts with daily specials and a wide range of beloved dishes. If you're feeling adventurous – and you're at an Indian restaurant, so it can't hurt – try the goat masala or fish madras.
You will need to be extremely, ravenously hungry when dining at Dish in Glebe – the second incarnation of the popular Toongabbie street food restaurant. They serve traditional Sri Lankan food in epic proportions. The original vendor in Western Sydney was a cheap eats hot spot, and while the inner city version has slightly steeper prices to match the rent, the $22 lunch set menu is a big hitter on the value for money scale.
We bet you’ve driven past Annapurna hundreds of times and never even realised it was there. It might be squeezed into a bleak stretch of Parramatta Road but this Nepalese restaurant is no secret to the Nepalese community who have it on speed dial for takeaway and catering. That would explain why most of the time the dining room looks half empty, but don’t let that deter you from eating in.
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.
Whatever you do, make sure you order the fuchka ($6.90). Stopped laughing? Good. This popular and addictive street snack is found all over Bangladesh. It’s a vegetarian mix of chickpeas, potato and spices served alongside a pile of puffed-up hollow wheat ball crisps (Indians call these panipuri). The fun part is tapping a little hole into the top of the hollow orbs, spooning in some filling and then adding a little chilli vinegar.
We fully appreciate the mesmerising draw of the flashing rainbow lights that adorn the cottages along Harris Park’s famous eat street, Wigram Road, but just around the corner is a restaurant that is specialising in Indian food with a strong southern accent. To get the most out of this elegant eatery we recommend you flip through to the back of the menu to where seafood is the star.
The way you feel about Thai food is how Brits feel about Indian fare. Given the numbers of Brits living here, a restaurant that attends to those homesick hankerings is a must. The Colonial has long been dishing up curries to fans in Leichhardt and Darlinghurst, but it was notably absent from what sometimes feels like our local Little Britain: Neutral Bay. Now that's changed.
Indian Chinese cuisine is said to have originated in Calcutta in the early 1900s – dishes cooked by Hakka immigrants that were gradually adapted to local Indian tastes. Today, Indian Chinese cuisine has spread all over India – and to much of Malaysia and Singapore too – but you won’t have to head overseas to try it.
There’s nothing like seeing a batch of freshly cooked puri coming straight out of the kitchen. Puffed up like UFOs, these hollow and soft deep fried breads have slightly crisp edges and a speckled golden brown surface. They cook them all morning long on weekends at AD’s Kitchen, one of the few places offering a traditional Nepali breakfast in Sydney.