Paradise Indian Restaurant and Takeaway
The food’s got to be good at a restaurant with queues of people patiently waiting for a table, and so it is at Paradise Indian restaurant in Sandringham, Auckland’s own “little India”.
We only had to wait about 10 minutes for a table, but the time went quickly as we browsed and shopped at the nearby Sri Lankan and Indian grocery stores.
We walked past the front window with its display of chicken and lamb kebabs and we could see the chef busily cooking using the tandoor oven. We arrived at the main ordering area and admired the many dishes on offer in the warmer. Once you place your order you are seated at a table – a very efficient way to cater to the crowds. The restaurant has a pleasant modern decor and was full of couples and families enjoying dinner. Our mouths were watering as servers passed us with dishes of food and soon it was our turn.
Paradise specialises in Hyderabadi cuisine of south/central India. This cuisine is a mixture of Mughlai, Turkish and Arabic food, as well as local influences. Meat (lamb and chicken), rice and wheat play a big part in the cuisine as does special use of herbs and spices. It differs from the north in its use of tamarind and coconut, although there were not many dishes on the Paradise menu using them. I missed seeing the Spicy Aubergines in a tamarind gravy ($14) listed on the menu, and would love to try that another time.
We ordered far more than the two of us needed for dinner, but we had leftovers in mind. Our first dish was the Mixed (meat) Platter ($18). This dish is perfect for meatlovers and really shows off the skilled use of the tandoor oven. Meat included were thin pieces of lamb with lime juice and herbs, chicken Tikka, Tandoor chicken and minced chicken and lamb sausages. Some of the meats were quite spicy (for us) so we were grateful for the accompanying mild yogurt and mint sauce.
We were advised to try the Chicken 65 ($12) and a Biryani dish ($12) and we also tried the Spinach Lamb ($16), along with some plain naan bread. The Chicken 65 is tender pieces of chicken cooked in yogurt with curry leaf and spices. It is described as an Indian Chinese dish, and in appearance resembles the cubes of chicken in a stir-fry. There the resemblance ends, as this dish was meltingly tender pieces of chicken in a medium spicy sauce and was utterly delicious. The Spinach Lamb was brilliantly green in colour and the lamb was also tender. There was a freshness to the spinach sauce that made the dish special.
We ordered the Vegetable Dum Biryani in a vain attempt to increase our 5+ vegetable count for the day. Paradise specialises in Biryani and the lamb version is the more traditional option. The rice is layered with ingredients and cooked in a dish that is sealed with dough to ensure the spices and flavours do not escape (a cooking style called dum). The rice was presented in a lovely serving dish (all our dishes were attractively presented) and we dug in to get our rice and vegetables. The vegetables were mostly potato and carrot pieces and peas, while the Basmati rice was beautifully flavoured and tender.
Our dishes were accompanied with plain rice and condiments, and our lovely naan bread went uneaten, to be taken home with our leftovers.
Although I am a dessert person, I had to pass for another time. Paradise offered two Hyderabadi specials using rice or bread, milk and dried fruits, and also my favourite, carrot halwa. All desserts were reasonably priced at $4.
When we left at 8:00pm, there was still a queue of clients who obviously know the short wait is worth it for the delicious food. See you there!