In Dining, Indian on
July 25, 2010

Ambi’s Indian Restaurant

Samosas- $5 for two

Having never been to an Indian restaurant and having a group of (awesome) Sri Lankan friends, it isn’t hard to guess where I’d go to if I ever needed a restaurant suggestion. Or better still, someone to take me to one =] Since I’d taken my friend to an Asian restaurant (sushi train) last year, she decided to take me to try out Indian food, which is why our small group end up in front of Ambi’s Indian Restaurant on a Monday night. Even if it’s three quarters of a year after I took her out ;P We had pondered about whether or not to make a booking, but decided against it since there was another Indian eatery down the road if it was full. We needn’t have worried though- we were the only ones there when we walked in!

We take a seat right in front of the display of Indian sweets, and slowly ponder over the menu. The menu is extensive and even my friends don’t know a lot of the food on the menu. When the waiter arrives, ready to take our order, we’re still slowly trying to decipher the menu and attempting to choose something. The waiter suggests we choose our drinks, and copying my friend, I order a mango lassi (we all end up ordering one =])

The mango lassi is sweet and surprisingly thick. Given that I love mangoes, and it’s been too long since I’ve had one (or even anything mango flavoured), I loved it. Both the sweet and the cold also went well to cool the spiciness of the curries too!

Saffron rice

The rice is ordered separately to the curries, something which I’m unused to, and we decide to order a saffron rice just to try it out. The saffron rice was…well, laughable. Despite never having saffron rice before, I do know that saffron is yellow, and I was pretty sure that saffron rice is meant completely yellow, and not just a splodge of yellow rice in a dish of plain rice. Nevertheless, it was fun to try, even if it mightn’t have been worth the extra dollar it costed. Funnily enough, I also found bits and pieces of yellow rice in the plain rice, along with other funny spices which were in there in a way that made me uncertain whether it’s there deliberately or not…..

Papdi Chaat $6.00

My friend orders the papdi chaat, one of her favourites. The thin, crispy wafer, made from the same deep fried pastry as the samosa pastry, covered in yoghurty sauce looks delicious. And, as my friend remarks, looks like an Indian version of nachos =] Although it appears on the menu as an appetiser, this serving does well to fill her up for the night. But then again, she’s the one who was too full after eating two pieces of terriyaki chicken sushi when we took her to the sushi train…

Butter Chicken (Murg Makhani) $14.50

We order butter chicken, simply because it’s a dish we’re all familiar with- even me. Despite never having had butter chicken at a proper Indian restaurant I’ve tried authentic butter chicken a few times thanks to my friends, or rather their mothers at parties and get togethers. The butter chicken does not dissappoint, and the rich and flavourful sauce has us finishing this in no time. I find the chicken surprisingly tender, perhaps because they use chicken thigh instead of breast (I think) which makes me love it even more!

Chicken Tikka Masala $14.50

The menu states that we can choose how hot we would like the curries we order, so we ask for both curries to be mild because I can’t stand hot very much. The Chicken Tikka Masala however, can only be medium-mild because the sauce base itself is mild from the spices used. Despite it being a slightly common Indian curry, I’d never heard of it before and my friend explains that it’s similar to tandoori chicken- without the bones. Which sounds all good to me, only I’m a bit scared of the spiciness (I really don’t take hot food well). The curry is quite different to the butter chicken- it’s not as creamy, and has a strong tomato flavour. It is extremely flavourful, and although I have no idea what the spices used in it were, I can tell they used a lot in it 😛 As for the spiciness, I’m surprised that it isn’t too spicy and eventhough my mouth slowly got hotter and hotter through the meal, it was bearable enough not to stop me from continuing to eat it! I personally preferred the butter chicken better, perhaps because of the spiciness, but I loved this too.

Raita $2

Our order for raita seemed to have dissappeared and it isn’t before we’ve gotten through half our meal that we decided to enquire about it. Now I usually don’t like mint, but I found this minty yoghurt sauce a nice accompaniment to the spicy curries.

It’s funny how the curries were surprisingly filling, leaving no one with an appetite for dessert, so we finished and paid for the bill- after taking 15 minutes to figure out how to split the amount with everyone’s $20 notes =P We ended up giving whatever couldn’t be split as tips- which I think wasn’t a bad idea as I thought both the food and service were pretty good =]

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  • grace

    that's some incredible-looking food, and so suitable for sharing! the mango lassi is the perfect thing to wash it all down.

    July 26, 2010 at 7:11 AM Reply
  • MaryMoh

    All the food looks delicious. I love the samosas…crunchy and delicious with chili sauce. I love lassi too….refreshing and delicious.

    July 26, 2010 at 1:34 PM Reply
  • Juliana

    Wow, everything looks so yummie, I love Indian food, so tasty…

    July 26, 2010 at 7:17 PM Reply
  • Maria

    That mango lassi reminds me of summer! Food here looks fantastic! Indian food is often a bit too spicy for my taste though 🙁

    July 26, 2010 at 10:42 PM Reply
  • Sophia

    all of that looks so yummy!
    it's so cool that you're another teen cook like me 😀
    i love ur blog!

    July 27, 2010 at 3:34 AM Reply
  • Steph

    The food looks good! 🙂 glad you guys had a good time 🙂

    July 27, 2010 at 9:33 AM Reply
  • Amy @ cookbookmaniac

    I love mango lassi. yoghurt and mango. yum. I havent been to a proper indian restaurant. I must hop to it asap!

    July 27, 2010 at 11:27 AM Reply
  • Foodie

    Hey 🙂

    I love Indian food and I don't mind 'medium' spice level but when it's too spicy (how my husband likes it).. I can't taste the food. All I get is a runny nose and maybe some beads of sweat on the forehead! Also hiccuping. No thanks! Thing is.. one of our most favourite Indian takeaways only has mild or hot (not inbetween).. so I usually get mild and if I want heat, I'll add some chilli powder at home (a controlled measure)!

    Very interesting re: the Indian nacho's-looking-dish. I'll have to keep an eye out for it myself and try it one day!

    That "saffron rice" was a joke.. if I do say so myself. It looks like they drizzled saffron water over it which is common in India and Sri Lanka..(from what I've seen on one of Rick Steins Far Eastern Odyssey episodes)-however, they usually generously saturate the rice giving the entire dish a yellow hue. That was a very stingey amount of saffron seasoning that didn't warrant the extra buck in my opinion.

    Thanks for popping by my blog. You should try Eggs Benedict soon and let me know what your impressions are =)

    July 28, 2010 at 2:15 PM Reply
  • Xiao Yen Recipes

    I love Indian food. As a matter of fact, I tried cooking some of my fave dishes at home. I thought the chicken tikka masala here is expensive but wow, your's was $14.50. Over here, it's $9.95.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:03 PM Reply
  • tigerfish

    I am a BIG fan of Indian food and you are making me so hungry now!

    July 28, 2010 at 9:40 PM Reply
  • eden

    hello !

    I love mango lassi but sometimes it can be done not so well !
    I haven't spent a lot of time at Indian restaurants but I have been to a few (especially this amazing one up near Norah Head)
    Don't really go down near Pendle Hill much but this looks like I should check it out !!

    July 31, 2010 at 8:38 AM Reply
  • mademoiselle délicieuse

    Um, yeah, that 'saffron' rice is an interesting interpretation on their part indeed!

    August 1, 2010 at 6:33 AM Reply
  • reanaclaire

    Love it all.. like to try this samosas.. how did it taste like, i wonder..

    August 1, 2010 at 2:26 PM Reply
  • Ellie (Almost Bourdain)

    What a lovely spread of Indian food. Never been to this place but will try it out soon 🙂

    August 3, 2010 at 3:40 AM Reply
  • My Little Space

    Wow Von, everything looks so delicious & appertizing! I'm loving the drinks as well. hmm…mm… yummm….. Hope you're enjoying your day, sweetie.
    Chers, kristy

    August 5, 2010 at 11:44 PM Reply
  • Anonymous

    YAY! documentation of our evening out!…I'm yet to see my name though 😛 jks. I love how only two of you mysteriously got sick after this and noone else did 🙂 and I love the way your description and your photos make the food look so much better than it actually did.
    NOTE2SELF for later: If ever ordering mango lassi, do not drink it BEFORE eating. lol.
    BYE LOU!

    August 10, 2010 at 1:29 PM Reply
  • panda

    i love mango lassi's! i always wonder how they make them because they always taste so nice (even when mangoes aren't in season). anyway, adding this place to my list of places to try – food looks yum!

    August 16, 2010 at 9:44 PM Reply
  • Elizabeth and Jared

    This all looks so delicious! I'm going to be in NSW in late September – might need to pay this one a visit!

    August 19, 2010 at 3:33 AM Reply
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