Lamb curry with naan cooked fresh in the tandoor. Photo: Eddie Jim
Quick! If you love Indian food, head to Ginger Club lickety-split. Here, in this humble shopfront, is some of the best Indian food in town: lush, slow-cooked curries deep with flavour; butter-slicked naan fresh from the tandoor; and succulent tandoori chicken.
It's run by Rajesh Wahi, who used to own Balti Indian Cafe in Carlton and Chimney Indian Restaurant in Fitzroy North back in their 2000s heyday, before he sold the lot to look after his young son.
Now he's back in the game, with Ginger Club in Broadmeadows celebrating its second birthday and another Ginger Club opening last month in Roxburgh Park.
Indian ornaments are part of the charm at Ginger Club Indian Restaurant. Photo: Eddie Jim
Wahi is a New Delhi native, and it was his food that the Indian and West Indies cricket teams requested for four consecutive international tours. They would ring Wahi on his mobile and he'd arrive at the MCG, loaded up with curries, then hang out with the players in the dressing room and watch the match.
It explains the ''Sachin Tendulkar'' scrawl on the framed cricket hat, part of the decor at Ginger Club, along with traditional Indian trinkets and ornaments strung here and there. The Roxburgh Park Ginger Club is more modern altogether; same menu, though.
Kick off with pappadums - roasted in the tandoor, not deep-fried, so they're light and crispy, not greasy - or munch on crunchy, crisp-shelled samosas stuffed with spiced potatoes and peas.
Spinach dishes, such as the saag paneer, are a specialty. Photo: Eddie Jim
Spinach dishes, such as the saag paneer, are a speciality, the leaves hand-ground into a paste, mixed with crushed, dried fenugreek leaves, and simmered away with garlic and of coriander, cumin, and tomato. The paneer (cheese) is made the traditional way, the milk boiled and separated with lemon, wrapped in muslin and pressed under a 30kg weight. Before adding the cheese to the spinach gravy, Wahi deep-fries the paneer giving it a lovely burnished brown. A swirl of cream adds smoothness and fresh ginger on top adds zestiness. This is a top-notch saag.
Tandoori chicken here is tender and juicy, not dried out as some can be. The trick, Wahi says, is marinating the meat overnight in mustard oil and mild chillies, ground to paste - sometimes he does add food colouring to achieve that vivid red. Then, the meat is slow-braised and served hot and sizzling on a cast-iron plate.
Chicken korma had a beautiful blend of spices with cardamom shining through.
Roghan josh was warming with an even hotter aftertaste, the balance of cinnamon, bay leaves, cloves, cardamom and aniseed leaving a zing on the palate, the lamb perfectly tender.
The food here is really good. Wahi's grandfather was a cook for 50 years and he reckons ''it's in the blood''. I reckon: if it's good enough for the Indian cricket team, it's good enough for me.
Do … Check out Tuesday curry night (any curry for $10, except seafood; phone ahead).
Don't … Miss the new Ginger Club: 250 Somerton Road, Roxburgh Park.
Dish … Saag paneer.
Vibe … It's all about the food.
Licensed and BYO (Corkage $1.50 a head)
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- 03 9309 9007
- Cuisine - Indian
- Prices - Entrees, $5-$13; mains, $10-$18; desserts, $4-$5
- Chef(s) - Rajesh Wahi
- Owners - Rajesh Wahi
- Cards accepted - Mastercard, Visa, EFTPOS
- Opening Hours - Wed-Fri, 11am-2.30pm; Tues-Sun, 5pm-late
- Author - Nina Rousseau