Saturday, February 2, 2013
All right. This one is about Sri Lankan food. Now being an Indian, often when we see a Sri Lankan restaurant from outside, we usually sneer thinking how different would it be to south Indian cuisine. Now to some extent it is true if you purely look at the items serving. However, not quite true when it comes to the taste and the actual menu as well.
When you go to an Indian restaurant, typically a portion of the menu would say south Indian and have predefined menu items. Variants of dosa, vada, uttapam. Some might add on lemon rice and tomato rice as well. Further, if it is a north Indian restaurant, the things might be even more elusive from the authentic taste. So what I am saying is that firstly Indian restaurants have a varying sub set of a stereotyped menu and further the taste is varying and a far cry.
There are a couple of Sri Lankan restaurants here in Sydney that I have tried and this post is about one such restaurant called Janani. A few years back when I was in Burwood and stayed in a shared accommodation, one of friends got a take away crab curry. I accidentally tasted it and while I wasn't too sure how crab would be, I tasted it and it tasted nice. Spicy yellow curry. That is when I made a mental note of Janani and to visit. Almost for the next 2 years I never got a chance despite staying in Strathfield until a few weeks back. A small eatery at Homebush. Tried the various reviews from trip advisor and other food blogs such as eatability.com. The reviews were mixed and loads said the place was shabby and the service was crap. As I walked and ventured to Janani, I can tell you the ambience was normal and the place was not at all shabby.
Lets come to the basics. Food was good. You get the pronounced flavors and the quintessential taste of Sri Lankan food. For us Indians from north, this was probably the highest degree of south Indian food. The price is dirt cheap and quality is good. Yes the service may vary as its a family run business, but when i go to a place like this one, i know I am not at a fine dining place. Its like a next door eatery.
Food. Tried the following at various occasions.
Dosa: pretty good. Not the paper thin like we north Indians are used to but good crispy full filling dosa with multiple serves of sambhar. Chutneys were really good.
Crab curry. We were told only half a crab is left and when we got it, looks wise it was ok. Looked a bit dark with no curry but a paste type of curry. Really dense and one spoon and then we knew this was awesome. Spicy, with flavors of cardamom cinnamon and fried onions and curry leaves being very pronounced. The crab had been broken down but i was perhaps one of those rare time when I liked crab outside. A few other places had me repulsed but Janini brought back the love.
Chicken biryani: just about ok and average. Multi-colored broken rice with eggs and fried/grilled chicken. To be honest, this actually reminded me of the biryani i would have got at the Indian railways train from Delhi to Hyderabad.. The AP Express.
The next time I went to Janini specially to have the crab curry, I was told out of stock. So ordered the goat curry and prawn curry. Between the two, I loved the prawn curry. Again spicy, dark colored but loved it with the rice.
Goat curry.. Descent. While quality of goat was nice.. Soft and tender. But somehow the taste of the curry was different o what I have. May be I had it with the prawn curry which was tastier. So descent goat curry but not the best I'd say.
Filter coffee: the south Indian style coffee served in steel glass and plates. Well happy to have got it in Sydney.
All in all a place where Id go any day without thinking for day to day eating. Food is homely and cheap. A meal for one would cost from AUD 10 TO AUD 20 at max.
The restaurant closed at Homebush last month and has now moved to a new location to Liverpool road, South Strathfield.