Vegan 'butter chicken' on the menu in Darlinghurst

Malabar's vegan 'butter chicken' dish.
Malabar's vegan 'butter chicken' dish. Photo: Supplied

The words butter, chicken and vegan aren't usually found in the same sentence, but Sydney's growing fascination with plant-based and vegan food is mapping new food turf.

Demand for vegan options at Darlinghurst veteran Malabar restaurant has grown so strong, owner-chef Mohammed Sali has turned butter chicken on its previously carnivorous head.

"Special dietary requests are commonplace, and most of them are relatively easy to do," Sali says.

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Bondi's Upper East Side has changed their menu to 'Nikkei fusion', with a heavy influence on raw, vegan and gluten-free dishes. Photo: Supplied

"But when I received a request for dairy-free and no-chicken butter chicken, I thought we had hit the limit for what is possible.

"The sauce was a little easier, but getting the texture right [for the chicken substitute] was hard – but we got there with mushrooms, flour and plant-based protein." 

In the spirit of the creation of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! nearly 40 years ago, he has produced the butter- and chicken-free butter chicken.

"I can't believe how popular it's become, people are calling ahead and checking we haven't sold out for the day."

Sali has a new dish in his sights. "I'm working on a vegan lamb," the chef says.