Feeling like a spicy snack or simple vegetarian meal? Bikanervala is the place for you! If you’re sick of Rogan Josh and Butter Chicken, this is a totally different type of Indian culinary experience.
I first visited Bikanervala with a lovely Indian cook over a year ago and for some reason had forgotten to return. So I gathered up the family and headed over for a casual weekday dinner.
Bikanervala is part of the larger Bikanervala food company specialising in ethnic vegetarian Indian specialty sweets and snacks. It is open literally from morning to night, making it accessible for a foodie fix almost anytime.
Snacks include chaat and puri. These are made at a separate stand from the main ordering counter. Chaat (which literally means “to taste”) are traditionally street snack food served with tamarind or coriander chutney or hot spice mix. The popular Papdi Chaat ($6.50) is made of crispy wafers with potatoes, chickpeas, seasoned yogurt and flavourful spices and chutneys. We started our dinner with a Pani Puri ($5.50) which is a large fried puff pastry ball with spiced mashed potato, spiced water and tamarind juice. I love the flavour of tamarind and the puri was a delicious start to the meal.
Bikanervala offers both North and South Indian cuisine as well as several Chinese dishes and simple pizzas (!). We wanted to sample a variety of Indian dishes and ordered two “combination plates” – a Thali from Northern India and a platter from Southern India.
The Bikano Thali ($16) was the most expensive item in the reasonably priced thali line-up ($13.50 and $14.50). This platter included the Chinese dishes vegetable Manchurian and vegetable fried rice, as well as Shahi paneer, dahl Makhani, dahl Bhalla, idli, coconut chutney, butter naan, salad, pickle, papad and a sweet. Although tasty, the offerings were weighted heavily on the side of starchy carbohydrates. The dahls were the clear favourites, full of flavour and a lovely creaminess to the sauce. The medium spiciness was perfect for our tastebuds.
The Mysore Platter ($14.50) included Mysore masala dosa, uttapam, uppma, vada, sambar and chutney. Uppma is made from semolina with mustard seeds, curry leaves, green chillies and ginger. It is eaten with sambar, a lentil and vegetable stew. Although it is usually eaten at breakfast, it can be eaten at any time of day. Combined with the bread (uttapam) and dosa, this was another rich carbohydrate fix (perfect for breakfast – not so good at the end of the day).
Our daughter was kept happy with a simple dal with rice.
We accompanied our meals with a mango lassi ($4.00) and soft drinks.
Our rich meals had us filled up to the brim, but we could have ordered from their dessert menu ($2-$6.50) or even picked a selection of the sweet snacks from the display cases.
Bikanervala is perfect whether you are on your own or with a group. The food is authentic and we recommend that you push your comfort boundaries and try a selection of various dishes. We would have liked to have eaten more vegetables and less carbohydrates, so make sure you ask for their advice if you want to avoid our carb overload!