SPICE OUT: A NEW RITUAL

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Spice Out 2015 is a tribute to the foot soldiers of Indian food in Melbourne

Australia’s culinary landscape has changed dramatically over the last two decades. Fish and chips shops are visibly out-numbered by Indian and Asian take-away joints across all suburbs. Indian cooking has found its way into kitchens of pubs and restaurants across Australia. Super market shelves are being redefined as Indian cuisine gains increasing shelf space. More and more non-Indians are eating Indian food outside and are attempting to cook Indian food at home. Spices and Indian food ingredients are increasingly being used in modern Australian dishes.

Reality TV has played a significant role in the emergence of Indian cooking in Australia. In a city where Asian and Italian food ruled the roost till a few years ago, one can now sense a huge change. The Indian food industry is increasing its market share in Melbourne and across Australia. Traditional market leaders like the Italian, Greek and Chinese food in the city’s culinary space is up against a formidable rival without a doubt.

Thanks to the entrepreneurial mindset of the Indian immigrant, the Indian restaurant sector continues to grow and is a large draw among new migrants who wish to start a small business. Melbourne’s love of good food makes it one of the best places for this entrepreneurial appetite to flourish. Their task is not an easy one. They work up to 15 hours a day, and have no break over the weekend. This effort deserves a special recognition.

Personally, Gujju’s thaali is one of the best Guajarati thaalis I’ve ever had. I’ve found Raju, from Indian Roast, to be one of the warmest hosts in town. He takes time to sit with you while you relish his Rogan Josh with rotis and share a story or two about the suburb’s local history and how he grew his Indian restaurant from scratch.

St Kilda’s Babuji is becoming a local icon for its great vibe and innovative menu. Pandu’s dosas can rival the best dosas in India and his sambar is just incredible. Without a Shalimar and an Aangan restaurant, our suburbs would not be the same. Priya Restaurant in Point Cook is a place where most residents of the area huddle on a cold winter’s night to have their favourite red wine and curries. We can’t imagine a Melbourne CBD without a Desi Dhaba. Melbourne just needed a Dhaba to call its own and that’s Desi Dhaba.

Punjabi Curry Cafe is a place where you go for your favourite Indian dishes and you’ll want to keep going back. Shiva is known for its live open kitchens—one of the few in town. Masala Craft is a special hang-out with a special host in Thornbury, in the north of the city, next to the famous Thornbury Theatre. Tandoori Den has been around for three decades and they have definitely made history for being one of the longest serving Indian restaurants in Victoria. Tandoori Flames is where Bollywood parties and good food go hand in hand.

The credit to popularising Indian food in Melbourne should go to these restaurants and their owners and chefs who plan and execute exciting menus and restaurant themes meticulously.

Indian Executive Club, in its second year with Spice Out, has again aimed to showcase the hard work and dedication of these entrepreneurs. These dedicated entrepreneurs have time and again contributed to the growth of Indian food sector in Australia. IEC has a common path with these owners, a vision to grow the Indian food sector to the top. It’s our dream that Indian Food will be number 1 in town.

This year, for the first time, IEC, and The Indian Sun, chose to recognize seven top restaurants in Melbourne through a process of online voting. Some of these restaurants have gained immense support and following from the community and they are well-deserved winners of the first Spice Out Awards –see results and photos inside.

For those of you who are keen on following the Who’s Who of hospitality sector in Melbourne, you can order your copy of Spice Out and stay in touch: www.indianexecutive.com.au