Monday, March 26, 2012

Khan Baba - Taka Tak, BBQ & Shisha Garden

Khan Baba
453 King St
Newtown NSW
Ph : (02) 8065 0712

It had taken me a few months to get to Khan Baba, and after this evening, I wondered why it had taken me so long, and vowed to return as soon as I could.

Don’t be mislead by the informal appearance of this Indian and Pakistani eatery, with its takeaway looking front section (and a courtyard at the back). They serve up some fantastic food. For this first meal, however, we went ‘light’, in the sense of focusing not on meat, but on vegetables and seafood.

One of the things that you’ll get at Khan Baba which you probably won’t find anywhere else are the “Tak Tak (Tawa)”. Cooked in an almost wok-like traditional hot plate at the front, you can order heart, liver, kidneys, testicles or brain, which will be served sizzling. For the innards fans.

To start, we had the vegetable pakora and vegetable samosa.

Which of the two you prefer will be fairly much subjective, and we were split on this. I enjoyed them both – the pastry on both was crisp and not heavy, but the extra punch of the spice in the samosa, liberally coated with the raita, made it my favourite.

Now for the seafood.

Goan Fish Curry

A huge serving with the most generous amount of fish I’ve been served in a fish curry, this was a mild curry (suitable for young children), a wonderfully creamy tomato and coconut gravy finished with lemon. The flavours are light, and don’t overwhelm the fish.

Prawn Karahi

In contrast, the prawn Karahi, marinated (chilli, cumin) prawns cooked in a fine tomato gravy, had a bit more spice and heat to it, with scattered matchsticks of fresh ginger visible. Again, they were not parsimonious with the prawns, there were enough for a few of them for each (3) of us. For those who like a gutsy sauce with a bit of body to it.

We ordered both plain naan and Terka rice (which none of us had eaten before) to eat with the mains

With a bit of mixing and matching, we worked out that the Goan fish curry worked best with the naan, as its plainness allowed the more subtle flavours of that sauce to maximised, whereas they were somewhat drowned out by the more pronounced flavour of the rice, which worked far better with the prawn. As testament to how addictively good both the curries were, we cleaned out the Karahi sauce, and almost managed to finish all of the Goan one as well.

This photo of the rice just doesn’t do justice to the size of the serving. There was a lot of rice (and we finished it).

The final item was the vegetable Martabak (or ‘murtabak’ if you’re in Malaysia). There are a number of fillings available for this stuffed pancake, but we were glad, when it arrived, that we’d ordered the vegetable option, as we weren’t sure whether we were going to be able to finish all that we had ordered. The exterior was light and flaky, the filling not too overwhelming in proportion or flavour, and a good snacky item. Also, it was huge. Of all the items we ordered that night, this was probably the one that I’d not feel compelled to immediately order again, even though I enjoyed it. 

Just as we were about to leave, a complimentary dessert came out. Gajar Ka Halwa. This is a very traditional type of dessert made with carrots and milk. Any initial doubts from the non-dessert person, were turned around with the first bite. Served warm, it is sweet, comforting, and no, you can’t tell that it’s carrot.

If I lived near Newtown, or at least within their delivery area (you can order on the website above), I would go there regularly. Khan Baba is amazing value, with generous servings of food with great depth of flavour, and friendly and engaging people who are keen to know whether you like each dish, and who really seem to love being there and sharing their food.



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