Indian Vegetarian Dining in Dunedin (part 1)

I love Indian food. Lunch, dinner, leftovers for breakfast, it’s all good. Usually most Indian restaurants and even the Indian counters in foodcourts have a good selection of vegetarian and sometimes vegan options.

So while in Dunedin recently, on an all expenses paid holiday (aka work), I decided to try a selection of Dunedin’s Indian restaurants with an aim to looking for dishes I haven’t tried before.

Paneer Pasanda from Shahi Tandoor
Paneer Pasanda from Shahi Tandoor

First up, Friday night’s choice was Shahi Tandoor. The menu in the window lured me in. A massive selection of curries and many vegetarian options I’d never seen on a menu before. Before I went in, I decided that I was going to try either the Paneer Pasanda (fresh cottage cheese stuffed with mint chutney and cooked in onion, tomato and cashew gravy) or the Stuffed Capsicum (stuffed with dry curried vegetables like potatoes, peas, cashews and sultanas) or the Pumpkin/Kumra Madras (medium spiced pumpkin curry in a coconut gravy tempered with mustard seeds).

The man at the counter said his recommendation was the Paneer Pasanda, which I was leaning towards anyway, so I went with that and a Aloo Parantha (wholemeal bread stuffed with spiced potatoes).

They also had on the menu Malai Methi Matar (green peas in a mild creamy sauce flavoured with fresh fenugreek leaves) – not one you see often on menus but one we often buy from the Indian Supermarket in a packet.

As for the Paneer Pasanda itself, if it was stuffed with mint chutney, I didn’t see it. The curry itself was very runny but very flavourful. The parantha was perfect! It tasted more like roti (wholemeal) than naan (white flour). The leftovers thickened up a lot so were good on a reheat (but curry always is). A generous amount of paneer too and it definitely looked home-made as it was in larger than normal pieces.

Malai Kofta from New Indian Summer
Malai Kofta from New Indian Summer

The following night I phoned an order through to The New Indian Summer. Not sure what is new about it as I remember this place from at least 10 years ago. The girl on the phone didn’t seem to really know the menu or the website we got it from wasn’t up to date? I ordered the Pumpkin Madras and an Onion Kulcha but within minutes she rang back to say no Pumpkin Madras. I ordered the Malai Kofta instead.

Malai Kofta, is one of my favourites, cottage cheese and potato dumplings pan-fried till golden brown then simmered in a creamy mild cashew nut gravy. This was excellent, but oh so sweet, rich and creamy. The onion kulcha, I didn’t actually like much on its own, but its tang set off the creamy sauce well. The curry was so rich, I barely got through half of it in one sitting.

Saag Aloo from Taj Mahal
Saag Aloo from Taj Mahal

Next up was Taj Mahal, looking at the menu, there wasn’t really anything I hadn’t tried before, so  I ordered another favourite, Saag Aloo (potatoes cooked in a spinach based sauce tempered with fenugreek, ginger and garlic). I decided to try a Mint Parantha (minted multilayered bread).

Saag Aloo was wonderful, a really thick curry on this one. Really very flavourful and not too creamy. However, I was disappointed with the mint parantha though – it wasn’t at all like I expected. I thought it would have been more like the Aloo Parantha on the first night – bread stuffed with mint. But it was more like roti with dried mint on the outside.


Note – for all pictures shown, the curry and rice serving is approximately half of the meal.  With a second bread, there would be enough for two people.  All meals cost less $15-$20 for a curry and bread (no drinks were purchased).  Also dine in sometimes costs a little more.

Click here for part 2 of Indian dining in Dunedin.


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