It’s been aaaaaaages since we’ve eaten at Ajantha Indian in Mill Park, which used to be a regular (nearly weekly) haunt of ours, so it was high time we went back. Given the time lapse since our last visit, were weren’t surprised to be met by unfamiliar faces (both front of house and in the kitchen), and were pleased they were smiling faces despite the incredibly busy atmosphere.
I thank the Divine Food Gods for inspiring me to ring and book ahead, because mere moments after we were seated, the place was packed – in addition to a snaking line of take-away patrons hanging about. Fit-out wise, it’s stock standard suburban restaurant. Basic and comfortable – but does the job.
When my Vegetable Pakoras ($6.00/4pcs) landed on the table, they looked just like every other pakora I’ve ever had. BUT! I was very pleasantly surprised at the freshness, flavour and texture of the my little balls of goodness once I bit in. I could actually taste the bold spices and see the chunky spinach and cauliflower pieces – all hallmarks of home made. I will definitely order these again!
Hubby Bear’s eyes widened at his wonderful serve of 1/2 Tandoori Chicken ($9.00). Incredibly moist from being marinated in classic spices and yoghurt, the tandoori grilled pieces were chomped and sucked clean in a blink of an eye. Hubby probably could’ve cleaned up whole chook if it was on the table! The moisture and intense flavours were up there with some of the best he’s had. Big kudos so far!
Now onto the curries. I had the Shahi Paneer ($12.50), which sorta translates into English as ‘Royal Cottage Cheese’! haha! The chunks of paneer (if you don’t know what paneer is — take cottage cheese + compress it into a solid block + then dice it into pieces = Paneer) floated around in a cream-based cashew sauce and….it was good. Yeah, good. I think that’s a fair call. It was good enough to eat up, but not a spectacular example of the dish (I wasn’t licking the bowl clean). I say this because while it tasted nice, it lacked the depth of flavour that I’ve grown to love in a Shahi Paneer.
Hubby had the Beef Coconut Masala ($13.95), with big soft chunks of meat in a curry sauce of mustard seeds and curry leaves. He felt the same about his curry as I did, good enough to eat it all up, but not a show-stopper.
Oh yes, and we had a serve of Garlic Naan ($3.00/ea) to unabashedly dip into our curries and mop up the mess on our plates with. The Saffron Rice ($3.50) was fine, soft dry and mixed well with the curries.
While Ajantha didn’t knock our socks off, they did enough to keep us interested in another visit. Their entrées were the real stand-outs…so perhaps the next time we go, they’ll show us they can provide that depth of flavour we both crave in our curries.
For the area, they’re one of the better Indian restaurants we’ve been to so far, so if your tummies are grumbling for some hearty grub – head towards Bunnings. Then hook a left.
Address: Shop 7, 5 Bush Boulevard, Mill Park VIC 3082
Tip! This isn’t a big venue, so if you’re thinking of going on a Friday or Saturday night – ring ahead to snag a table. It only takes a few parties to come in and the place is packed.