Restaurant Reviews

Nilgiri’s, St Leonard, Sydney

IMG_0631-P (1280x960)Our tastebuds are dancing with A-joy every time we go to Nilgiri’s; no exceptions! This has been the case since we discovered Nilgiri’s about 13 years ago. Soon after our discovery, we became friends with Ajoy Joshi (the owner of Nilgiri’s) and today, we are one of their regular customers. Of course, we introduced our friends to Nilgiri’s too. Here’s how you can measure up our feelings for you, friends: if you think we’re friends and we have never, ever taken you to Nilgiri’s then you’re not that close to us. But if we took you there and dumped you later on, well, it’s because we don’t love you anymore. You were a mistake and we happily moved on 🙂

IMG_0633 (1280x960)I have always been fascinated by Indian culture, not just the cuisine. Especially, since my health situation had been saved by an Ayurvedic physician about 25 years ago, my fascination took a different turn and I even studied Ayurveda in the end –received my diploma in Advanced Ayurveda a few years ago. When it comes to Indian food though, we have been taken on an exquisite culinary journey through India at Nilgiri’s so far.

IMG_0639 (1280x960)Nilgiri’s Food
I am one of those people who enjoys sophisticated alchemy of Indian cuisine. My problem with many Indian restaurants, though, is the fact that their food tastes like a mixture of every single herb and spice that is grown on the face of the earth which makes it almost impossible to identify any. Wait, I even have a name for it: spiced mud. At Nilgiri’s, however, every dish has its own star spice, a lead singer in a band so to speak. The star spice is then well-balanced by other spices (back-up singers) and well-orchestrated by the other ingredients carefully (like the rest of the band) and all of that is put together by the fantastic team of Nilgiri’s. And, this is the kind of music you can actually eat!

Gobhi 65 (1280x960)-PGobi 65 (above)

There are many things about Nilgiri’s that sets it apart from other Indian restaurants. Usually you get a particular style of cooking or region depending on where the owner comes from and that style never changes. Neither does their menu. It’s because Ajoy was trained by six Indian master chefs who are experts in their own regional cuisine, Nilgiri’s Sunday Buffet menu changes every month and each time it is another exciting regional food that blows your mind. Moreover, Indian food you have at Nilgiri’s is quite contemporary yet all solid foundation of the cuisine is still preserved.

Aloo Gobhi (1280x853)Aloo Gobhi (above)

The Restaurant
Nilgiri literally means Blue Mountain in many languages. This world class, award winning restaurant is located on Christie Street in St. Leonards. Upstairs, there is the actual restaurant and private function rooms. Downstairs, there is reception and tiffin room.

IMG_0640-P (1280x960)Malai Kofta (above)

Private Function Rooms
A friend of ours once told us that the current premise of Nilgiri’s used to be a Japanese restaurant and that’s how you may be able to explain some of those function rooms with a hole in the middle through which your feet go, in a dangling-in-the-air fashion. You take your shoes off before you enter and the table area has cushions on the floor. Each room is named after five elements in Ayurveda: boomi (earth), vayu (air), jal (water), agni (fire) and akash (space). Private function rooms are excellent for celebrations or get-togethers. We celebrate our birthdays with my husband as they are only a day apart.

IMG_3744 (953x1280)Tiffin Room
Tiffin means snacks; quick and easy bites people eat between meals in Southern India. At Nilgiri’s, they serve thalis, biryanis, dosais and uttampams. Open during the day for lunches.

IMG_0622 (1280x960)Ajoy Joshi
Ajoy Joshi is an award-winning master chef, an authority on Indian food, not just in Australia or in India but overseas as well. He also appeared on TV and radio as guest chef –including New Zealand television, yes, Dad told us. Apparently, Ajoy founded Nilgiri’s in the late 90s and is supported by his wife Meera –whose masala chai recipe is a killer –and his son Aniruddh –who is a pretty handsome fella. And of course, let’s not forget the fantastic team at Nilgiri’s.

Cooking Classes
I remember taking one of Ajoy’s vegetarian cooking classes with my husband long time ago. We learnt how to make our own paneer, aloo samosas, dal makhani, palak paneer –you make paneer first, of course. That was the beginning of my education in Indian cuisine. That was the first time I was introduced to not-so-mainstream Indian spices and how to source them in Sydney as well. Considering those were my early days in this country, Ajoy’s vegetarian cooking class was just the right thing for me. These days, we enrol Dad for a cooking class whenever he’s in Sydney. He has done one and I’m sure he wouldn’t say no to another one 🙂

Nilgiri’s is ever so changing, ever so evolving. Get yourself there so your education in Nilgiri’s food can begin too.

Fully licenced and BYO (bottled wine only)
Address: 82 Christie Street St Leonards 2065 NSW
Phone: (02) 9966 0636

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