Tag Archives: Indian

Eating Out with your Vegan- Part 1

So you found yourself a vegan. Good for you. Now, you must look after them if you hope to not appear to be a jerk.  You may be lucky enough to live in a super veg-friendly city. Chances are, if someone close to you is simply vegetarian, eating out is not even an issue. In gastro-snob Paris and even in pork and seafood heaven (literally if heaven is a real place, because if they’re there, they’re dead meat!) Samoa, eating vegetarian is ususally easy. I have to admit, in Samoa I ate a LOT of chips and my group all fell upon restaurants with fresh vegetables with gay abandon. Hmmm… I don’t have pictures, but perhaps I should do an article on eating vegetarian in Samoa?

Anyway! Unless you are at a very up-market restaurant with an over inflated opinion of itself, eating vegetarian out is easy. Despite this, it is a pet peeve of mine to look at a menu online or on a walk-by and see vegetarian appetisers or entrees, no veg mains, and have the restaurant self-proclaim to be “veg friendly”. Yeah. Right.

But still, vego brothers and sisters can almost always order off the menu- pizza, curry, pasta, sushi (most of the time), bruschetta, salad, pie, burgers, veg stacks, crepes… crepes… crepes…what was I saying? Oh yeah, vegos have it easier.

Having been vegan for three years and still eating a lot of vegan food, I found that eating vegan is a different matter. Eating vegan with friends requires skill. Being the non-veg friend of the vegan requires a touch of sensitivity and loveliness, but I know you’re up to the challenge.


Dahl Makhni and roti

Dahl Makhni and roti

Absolute easiest vegan eating out/taking out option: Indian. By far. Not only will your subcontinental staff understand what the hell a vegetarian is, they will possibly already have vegan, vego and jain food labelled on the menu. You don’t need to ask about egg or eggless tofu and fish sauce (Thai) or can you get this without cheese (Pizza and Pasta). If anything, you might need to ask whether they use Ghee or Veg oil. Ghee is clarified butter, so avoid. And this isn’t a weird question, just a standard “I want to know about the food” thing anybody could ask.

The other lovely thing about Indian is never having to encounter eye-rolling and explaining everything you’ve ever eaten in full. Your vegan will love not having to put up with/do this.

Of course, eating out isn’t all Chai and Dosa (unfortunately), so stay tuned for the rest of the world and cuisines to avoid to make your vegan a happy camper.

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Good rice, good curry, Good Gandhi, let’s hurry.

I love India. I went in January 2010 and it was the coldest, foggiest, and culture-shockiest (yes, I make up words) adventure I’d ever had. I was colder in India than I was in Europe. I stayed in Delhi and slept in hotels and also with a host-family who were just the loveliest people ever. My host family and their friends were very careful to make sure that I ate beautiful, safe and mild food so at no time I ended up attached to the loo (I didn’t get Delhi Belly once). Although I had a break from Indian food (for about one week) when I returned to Australia, travelling to India confirmed my love of Indian food and introduced me to many food not commonly found in Australia. I love me some Injun. I cook it, eat it and buy it whenever possible. I got to eat some this week.

The Red Fort, Agra.

“Salties” shop, Old Delhi.

So I went to Gandhi’s mid-week for a friend’s birthday. It’s one of two Indian places in Southbank and the other one doesn’t really rate. Gandhi’s is quite established at Southbank, and although it has, at times, received some rough reviews, I took a deep breath and recommended it when my friend wanted to some ideas.

Dahl Makhni and roti

The first mistake I made was forgetting that my friend’s fiancé wasn’t there, so it was a big old pussy party, plus Ben. Poor Ben. He really is a champ, although he can’t complain too much as he knows all the girls well. Many beers were had, so hopefully that made up for it.

A table was set up in the outside area. Plenty of water was supplied. We decided against starters as curry can be quite filling and ordered  a variety of dishes, including Dahl Makhni, Paneer Saag and an Eggplant (Aubergine) Curry. Ben and I ordered Roti with ours as well and everyone ordered rice. Rice was $2.50 per person and we each ordered separately. I think if there was an option to order a large serve for the table, that would have made ordering easier. Of course you want rice with your curry!

Mango Lassi

Drinks and food were served promptly (it was a Tuesday night, so it was a quiet night).Most of us ordered medium heat but I didn’t really think it was hot. Ben thought his medium was more mild than my medium. If that makes sense. I ordered a Mango Lassi thinking I might need it, and it was pleasant but not necessary for accompanying the curries. The roti (a wholemeal bread and usually less oily than naan) was soft and well cooked.

I had ordered the Dahl Makhni, which is dahl (lentil curry) with kidney beans. It often has a more interesting taste than straight dahl to me. I avoid ordering vegetable dahl at restaurants, as nothing is more disappointing than frozen vegetables in your dinner when you’re paying over $10 for your meal. My meal had a nice, rich flavour. Ben’s paneer saag (sort of cottage cheese cubes, but much nicer than that, in a spinach curry sauce) was rather mild for his taste. He liked the paneer cubes but found the saag part a bit disappointing. Our friend who ordered the eggplant curry thought hers was nice.

Paneer Saag

Gandhi’s is on the expensive side of Indian, in my opinion. We paid just under $65 for two curries and rice, two roti, a mango lassi and two beers. Vegetable curries were $16-$19, which is without rice. We usually get Indian curries for around $15. That would be the top end. Vege curries tend to be a bit cheaper than meat, so it was nearly $20 for some of the curry options on the menu. I found the food ok. There was nothing that was poorly done, we found the service just fine, quick and helpful. There was absolutely nothing wrong, but nothing that was brilliantly done. I’ve heard some reviewers say that this is inauthentic Indian. I couldn’t see anything that was inauthentic about it (always look for Chicken Tikka Marsala on Indian menus. It’s a British dish and a good giveaway. I forgot to look this time around). I found it mild, but nice. I had a decent meal, but I’d expect to for the price we’d paid. I might not go our of my way to go back with Ben, but I’d go back with friends.

Gandhi Curry House on Urbanspoon

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So Brisbane is full of different suburbs, most with unique characters and personalities. This isn’t anything new- a lot of cities around the world have areas known for different attributes (the dodgy one, the posh one, the trendy one, etc). Wooloongabba is an oddly shaped suburb that stretches down Ipswich Road from the stadium to the PA Hospital. In the early days of Brisbane, Woolloongabba was one of the largest shopping districts on the south side of the river- before the bridge. The CBD, Woolloongabba and Fortitude Valley each competed for retail dollars. You can still see the historical old shops in the Gabba stretching from the Mater Hospital to about the Chalk Hotel. There are some lovely little shops in there and, despite the traffic, is a nice little walk. Look up often for some lovely old iron lacework on the tops of verandahs and coloured glass.

When thinking of the Gabba, most people think of THE Gabba: the huge AFL and cricket sports stadium on Ipswich Road. It takes up most of the block and is notorious for appalling parking but good public transport. Many people haven’t thought much about the Gabba beyond that for many years, but recent (ok, fairly recent) gentrification of some areas has led to some amazing café and restaurants popping up. Many of the best are on Stanley Street or Logan Road. Not the big, bustling part of Logan Road, the odd, mostly parking park of Logan Road that can only be access from behind- no access from Ipswich or Stanley. Beautiful cafes that Brisbane is proud of, such as Canvas and Pearl, sit alongside restaurants that have reputations as excellent as the décor and building that house them. In time, I will review each and everyone one of them (Gosh Darn it).

My sister showed me some amazing other finds which are worth checking out if you’re in the Gabba/East Brisbane area. Wellington Street (technically East Brisbane) had some amazing vintage shops and the Brews Brothers– a microbrewery with brewing space for rent. I’ll have to get Ben onto that one. Heading over to Balaclava Street (or as my sister called it, Baklava Street, which is far less thuggish and more delicious), we found some amazing houses of noms, from All India Foods, where I bought 200g of cumin for $2.50 (!) and could find all the raw and pre-made tools and ingredients for all the Indian food you get in India but just can’t find on a Brisbane menu (why do so few places do Vada and Idli? I ask you!). Down the road was Banneton, a French bakery that has the most mouth-watering pastries and breads, and we finished at Pennisi Cuisine, an international deli where my sister tells me Mondos Organics gets some of their stock and she even found tomatillos and canned chipotle peppers, both of which she got hooked on in Mexico last year. They had shelf food from all over the world, a huge spice rack, 10 litre tubs of olives in the deli section and a cheese cabinet “I just want to lie down in” (me too, sis. Me too).

Click to enlarge and scroll through.

Will I be back to the Gabba to further investigate this fairly undiscovered haven of culinary and domestic delight? You bet your arse.

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