Indian Vegetarian Dining in Dunedin (part 2)

Following on from my previous blog post Indian Vegetarian Dining in Dunedin (part 1), I continued my quest for the best Indian in town during my work visit.

On Sunday, I unexpectedly had the day off work, so did a bit of sightseeing mixed with a little retail therapy.  Lunchtime found me at the Meridian Mall.  The mall has two foodcourts, the smaller of the two has a Shamiana Indian which is a fairly commonly found chain in mall foodcourts.  The closest mall to work in Christchurch, Westfield Riccarton Mall has one in their main foodcourt and personally, I think its one of the best Indian takeaways I’ve found (try the Tarka Dal).  There is a second one upstairs but the food is nowhere near as good.  But I digress…

So back to the Meridian Mall, I found Spice Traders in the larger downstairs foodcourt.  They had an impressive number of curries in their bain maries.  There were approximately 6 vegetarian options of which I chose two – Dal Makhani (buttery black lentils) and Chana Masala (chickpea curry).

It looked appealing, but you will have to take my word for it as I accidently deleted the photo from my iPhone.  But let me just say, it was wasn’t great.  Both curries were underwhelming and overly salty.  So far, this has been the first place on this trip that I wouldn’t go back to again.

Paneer Shimla Mirch from Little India
Paneer Shimla Mirch from Little India

Following my disappointment at Spice Traders, next up was Little India.  This is a small chain of restaurants, but not one I usually visit.  Reviewing their online menu, I was keen to try the Aaloo Baingan (Sautéed eggplant and potato cooked with ginger, garlic, onions and tomatoes finished with freshly ground spices.)  Unfortunately this is seasonal dish, and upon arriving at the restaurant they told me its not the season – though they will have it later in the week – but thats no use to me.  While I was dithering over what to get instead, the man at the counter asked if I had tried the Paneer Shimla Mirch (home made Indian cottage cheese cooked with capsicum, onions, tomatoes and spices.)

He said “its amazing”, so with that hard to argue with recommendation, I said “ok” and ordered it with a garlic naan.

Well, he wasn’t overselling it, it really was amazing.  By far, this was the best meal I had all week!  It was flavourful without being spicy, a thick tangy curry with fresh pieces of green capsicum and beautifully cooked onion.  The garlic naan was not greasy and had loads of finely diced garlic smothered over it.  I stunk of garlic, but it was so worth it!

Baingan Bhartha from India Garden
Baingan Bhartha from India Garden


Finally, for the last Indian meal of the trip, I chose India Garden.   Their website takeaway menu has a short list of vegetarian options but once I got to the restaurant, there was a full list of meals available.  I chosen the Baingan Bhartha (Eggplant roasted and cooked with chopped onions, peas and tomatoes) and a Paneer Naan (naan stuffed with cottage cheese).

The eggplant was almost pureed and the green peas provided more bite against the softness of the eggplant.  The naan was fabulous, the paneer giving it a creamy texture.

I also suspect this had a truckload of garlic in it…

So in final summary, I don’t think you would be disappointed at any of these restaurants, except maybe avoid the Indian in the food court.

The standout meal was without a doubt Little India.  However, if I had more time, I would have liked to go back to Shahi Tandoor and try the stuffed capsicum dish too.

Also there are a couple more Indian restaurants a little south of the Octagon and I am sure there are more in the suburbs but for the most part, I think covered the central city pretty well.

Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed eating it… maybe next time Thai?  🙂



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