We were invited, recently, to Chakra the innovative Indian restaurant in Inglewood which opened about 15 months ago and which has built up a strong following; Chakra is somewhat different to most of the Indian places around town with its emphasis on reimagining classic dishes in a style quite distinctive to this restaurant.
The menu is in two parts – Signature dishes which are these wonderful takes on classic Indian dishes – and Traditional, where you will find korma, butter chicken, vindaloo, rojan josh and the like – but even here with twists that put them out of the mainstream – whole spices rather ground are employed, giving a rich, delicate flavour to the dishes while mild green chilli allows a pleasant slow burn, but not so harsh as to detract from the beautifully integrated and fragrant spices.
Sonia and Kumar, the owners, and gracious hosts, have created a very special place – from the street tree outside wrapped in fairy lights and festooned with Indian lanterns, to the plush, but not overdone décor in reds, golds, dazzling chandeliers, and Indian metal objet d’art this restaurant spells welcome.
We were taken on a culinary journey through many of the dishes on the menu beginning with a dish of Mango pickled lamb ribs, mango jerky, fennel and nigella seeds – succulent lamb rib cutlets, infused with flavours of sour/sweet mango, aromatic fennel and sitting on a slice of dried mango jerky – wonderful
Next one of my favourites of the night – Mint and cashew stuffed paneer fritters – a take on the more usual fritter using paneer as the base, and flavoured with mint and nuts – served with a delightfully flavoured and spiced beetroot and onion chutney and a little kasundi on the side.
Dosa are one of my favourite Indian dishes – the Prawn green dosa pancakes substitute the usual crisp crepe for a small pancake topped with a mix of goat cheese, curried potatoes and came with the expected accompaniments – coconut chutney and spicy sambar – different, enjoyable but will not dissuade me from my love of the original.
A classic street food dish – Pav Bhaji – an aromatic vegetable stew – had been transformed into a Western style fondue dish – the stew mixed to a scooping and dipping consistency – a few olives imbedded for flavour and presentation – diced bun for dipping, fresh lime for squeezing and onion and tomato salad completed the array – lovely.
Then Chicken Chettinad – another well-known recipe – chicken marinated in a mix of yoghurt, turmeric, chilli, coconut, coriander, cumin, ginger and more to produce a juicy, aromatic dish – came a serve of pindi chole – spiced chickpeas – this Punjabi dish classically includes cardamom, ginger, chilli, garlic, coriander, garam masala – and a puffed poori. Very impressive dish.
Goat Mughlai was next on the list – North Indian, aromatic and full of classic Mughal flavours, the meat tender and succulent – topped with grilled pineapple, accompanied by fried lotus root, pickled onion and mango pickle as well as a soft and fluffy Khameeri naan (these are made with yeast and are quite different from the usual naan which are yeast free).
Finally we tried an old favourite -Barramundi, moist and flaking, comes with Madras curry sauce – cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger, black pepper notable flavours – lemon rice, and puffed fox nuts – the seeds of the water lily – finishes the dish. A beauty.
Once again, while the desserts were tempting, they will have wait for another visit – the generosity of the entrées and mains defeated us.
I should also mention the amuse bouche served bettween our starters and the mains – panipuri, the hollow, crisply fried puri accompanied by a glass of sauce to pour into the puri and chomp down in one bite – great flavours pimped up with a dash of vodka – excellent!
Chakra is licenced with the smallish wine list but with a nice range and an emphasis on wines that support and complement spicy food.
A final note – instead of the ubiquitous “reserved” sign on tables, guests are welcomed with a small sign stating “Chakra welcomes Anne and Peter, or Claire and Joe or whatever” a personal touch, and another point of difference – a sign of the friendly, family nature of the place.
Chakra continues to impress with its combination of innovative food, friendly and welcoming service and striking décor – certainly it stands out among the Indian restaurants of Perth – highly recommended.