02 May Piquancy, Hawthorn
From the people behind Babu Ji in St Kilda comes Piquancy, which has recently settled into Auburn Village in Hawthorn East. Classic curries and street food are on the menu, but Piquancy also serves contemporary Indian, in part demonstrated by its non-traditional name. Sharp, stimulating, exciting, appetising. The definition of piquancy is what they hope to achieve with their food.
They do brunch with an Indian twist, with dishes like smoked eggplant, masala omelette, roti, samosa patty burger, and confit vindaloo pork, but their creativity also continues into the dinner menu.
Pani puri kicks things off. The little round hollow puffs of pastry are filled with a small amount of tangy yoghurt, and mashed potatoes and chickpeas. Flavoured water is poured through the hollow to create a refreshing and slightly crisp snack. Eat it in one mouthful to contain the liquid in your mouth, rather than have it all down your top.
Looking like carrots, Seekh Gilafi is a spicy lamb kebab dish served on rosemary skewers, and comes with yoghurt-tinged chutney. Finely chopped vegetables are found amongst the minced meat, giving it extra colour and a variety of textures. Tulsi Nimbu Fish Tikka is made using Atlantic salmon, topped with basil, garlic and a slice of sweet preserve-like candied orange. Squeeze that lime for extra zing and freshness.
Vegetarians have plenty of options to choose from too. The cruciferous vegetable of the Cauliflower 65 is pan-fried in a sweet and sticky tomato and honey sauce, and the most visually intriguing dish of the night are the Beetroot Paneer. Square slices of firm paneer sandwich a layer of vegetables, and are slathered in a vibrantly pink beetroot sauce.
A spread of dishes then parades out of the kitchen: the sweet Butter Chicken with its combination of tomato, cardamom and fenugreek, the Lamb Kafirana stew with ginger, garlic, coconut cream and its predominant flavour of kaffir lime leaves. My favourite is the Anjeer ke Kofte. It’s a fig, pomegranate and cashew dumpling curry, and the sauce is rich and has chunky bits for texture. The Dal Makhani of black lentils, ginger, garlic and garam masala is also tasty. The cauliflower rice is seasoned with lemon and cumin, though tastes a little raw, and regular naan, as well as gluten-free naan made with quinoa, chickpea and lentil flour, are used to scoop up the dishes and their sauces. The gluten free naan are Babu Ji’s speciality, and surprisingly, I enjoy their flavour and more pliant texture slightly more than the regular version.
We end with some kulfi, in a rather unconventional presentation. Brought to the table in a shealth, we pull out our ice creams, which are ready for eating like an icy pole. It has a thick texture, and is quite sweet from the honey. The main flavour of condensed milk is broken up by the cardamom and cinnamon, and little bits of crushed pistachio throughout bring in some texture.
Piquancy is certainly not your average Indian restaurant. The dishes are unique and adventurous, and may just change your preconceptions about Indian cuisine.
Disclaimer: I was invited to Piquancy as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own, and are based on my experience at the time
123 Auburn Rd
Hawthorn, VIC, 3122
(03) 9813 5160