Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Meal in Brief: Paradise Indian Food

We came here because we had heard lots of good things about Paradise, including from blogger Easy Food Hacks. While Chinese eateries upped their game in the Dominion Road Dumpling Wars by switching to neon signs and more recently renovating, over in Sandringham, Paradise Takeaway was quietly expanding, gaining enough space from neighbouring shops to have separate restaurant and takeaway areas. I noticed they were building a live kitchen back in 2013, but somehow never managed to try the food till now!

Live kitchen nearly open in December 2013.

The menu was large, and featured "moghlai" food. The restaurant took particular pride in their Hyderabadi biryani and tandoor-cooked dishes, but you can also order Indian Chinese, more familiar curries and other dishes.

The setting was simple and modern. You walk down a corridor, then past the ordering area to get to the seating. The dining area did not have a view of the live kitchen (which faced onto the street), but one side of the walls were adorned with framed cricket bats, while the other had pictures and TV screens.

Live kitchen in action: view from the footpath outside.

The service was friendly and people were happy to explain things, but this place still felt a bit like a takeaway because you have to order and pay at the counter next to the dining room. We asked for rice to go with the specialty stew called harleem after the dish came out, but it wasn't until the main curries came out that we were given some.

What we ate included:
  • Paneer tikka ($12) - this entree arrived on a sizzling hot plate and was served with a mint yoghurt. The fresh cheese cubes were hot and fragrant, easily one of our favourite dishes here.
Paneer tikka.

  • Haleem ($12) - available as a weekend special, this Hyderabadi delicacy had a porridgey consistency, a wedge of lemon on the side, and the flavour of chicken and spices. It was pretty filling, even without the boiled egg it came with. The person who cleared our table explained it was like brown rice, which we took to mean wholemeal, since the menu said it combined "wheat and tender meat". Although nothing alike and not at all sweet, it reminded me of a Turkish dessert containing chicken. We were less keen on this dish, though it probably didn't help that it didn't arrive particularly hot, and we had no rice or naan to eat it with until later.
Hyderabadi haleem.

  • Paradise special chicken masala ($16) - when you've got your restaurant name on a dish, it's got to be good. This lived up to expectations completely, with a beautiful cashew and saffron sauce enveloping the boneless chicken.
Paradise special chicken masala.

  • Bagarey baigan ($14) - the "Spicy aubergines in tamarind gravy in an irresistible vegetarian Mughlai delight" was indeed delicious. This was the only dish we managed to polish off, rather than ending up in (polystyrene) takeaway containers.
Bagarey baigan.

  • Mutton dum biryani ($12) - we found this rice dish to be not particularly interesting, despite being what the restaurant is supposedly famous for. Perhaps our tastebuds were skewed by the flavourful curries which arrived first.
Mutton dum biryani.

  • Butter Naan ($2.50) - the freshly made naan bread was unlike any we have had elsewhere, relatively sweet and soft. Different in a good way.
Naan (and biryani).

Overall, Paradise is a pretty apt name for this restaurant. The tikka and sauced based dishes we tried were amazing, even though we were less enthusiastic about the biryani and harleem. Prices were reasonable and portions were huge. We would definitely come back to try some more dishes from here.

Restaurant Details

591 - 595 Sandringham Road, Sandringham, Auckland
(09) 845 1144

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