Coming as I do from an Indian/Pakistani background, I make a point of avoiding eating at Indian/Pakistani restaurants when I’m out and about. Why should I pay good money for food I can make at home (or eat at my mother-in-law’s house lol) for free?! But when it comes to Aangan Indian Restaurant, those rules go out the window. Aangan’s food is… wait for it… BETTER than your mama used to make. Yeah I said it!
Last night we made one of many trips back to Aangan for a family dinner. As usual, the place was packed, and most of the diners were brown people – always a good sign! We sat in the beautiful beer garden at the back of the restaurant, which is furnished with interesting artefacts from the motherland. Like this rickshaw!
Now, to the food! For entrée you cant go past the chaat menu. Aangan has recently updated its menu and introduced chaat share platters. We ordered papdi chaat and samosa chaat, which was, in short – AMAZING, and one of the main reasons we return to Aangan so frequently.
Papdi chaat is a street food comprised of a bed of chickpeas, topped with yoghurt, red onion, coriander, mint, chilli green chutney, tamarind chutney and crunchy pastry pieces or ‘papdis’. Samosa chaat is basically the same thing, except instead of chickpeas, the bed of the dish is a samosa. Papdis are not present in samosa chaat. When made well, chaat is the perfect combination of sweet and spicy, with a pleasing variety in textural quality. Aangan achieves this balance of textures and flavours perfectly. The crunch of the pastry and onions, and the heat of the chillies contrast beautifully with the creamy coolness of the yoghurt. Heavenly! I am fairly certain I could eat papdi and samosa chaat every day for the rest of my life and die happy.
Service is always friendly and eager to please at Aangan and tonight was no exception. Our waitress was quick to clear our plates after entrée and provide us with fresh cutlery and crockery, all the while asking us if we were happy with the meal. For mains, we ordered chilli garlic fish, lamb kohlapuri, chicken kadhai and chicken tikka butter masala, accompanied with butter naan.
All the curries were delicious and had their own distinct flavours. Most indian restaurants have curries which all taste like theyre cooked using the same curry paste, but not here. The kadhai chicken was delicious, tender chicken meat with fresh capsicum. The chilli garlic fish was particularly impressive, a fusion of Indian and Asian flavours served on a sizzling plate. We ordered our food with ‘medium’ spice, which was perfect for our tastes. The naan is beyond amazing, chewy and soft and deliciously buttery. While we didnt order it on this occasion, I have in the past ordered garlic naan from Aangan which is even better. The only thing I will say is that the naan is best eaten hot, as it gets stale really quickly, so its not ideal for takeaway.
Now while I have mostly positive things to say about Aangans’ food and service, when it comes to the Halal-O-Meter, the restaurant unfortunately doesn’t score too highly. The restaurant is fully licensed with an extensive drinks menu. Bollywood music plays softly in the background, and while the restaurant does advertise as serving only halal meat, when I asked waiters if I could see their halal certificate, I was advised that they didn’t have one on premises, and that their meat was purchased from the halal butcher across the road, and the butcher did have a certificate. Sure enough, there is a halal butcher right across the road, but it was closed, so I wasn’t able to confirm the waiters’ advice. Nonetheless, being the trusting little foodie that I am, I gave Aangan the benefit of the doubt, but I am not sure their word alone would be enough to satisfy the more pedantic Muslim diner.
To conclude, I rate Aangan as follows:
FOOD: 9/10 – the best Indian food in Melbourne.
AMBIENCE: 8/10 – classy – nicely decorated, and the outdoor beer garden is perfect for functions or romantic summer nights. Indoors it can get quite crowded and noisy though.
SERVICE: 9/10 – friendly and attentive waiters
HALAL-O-METER RATING: 2/10 – meat is claimed to be halal but no certificate on premises. Alcohol is served on premises. Bollywood music is played through a television both indoors and out.