23 September 2010

Zaaffran: Indian, Food Bloggers Evening, Darling Harbour (22 Sept 2010)

Level 2, 345 Harbourside Centre, Darling Harbour NSW 2000

Challenging stereotypical Indian

Thanks to Rush Dossa, part-owner of Zaaffran, for inviting me to their Food Bloggers Evening as a guest to sample a selection of interesting dishes that challenge the common stereotypical belief that Indian may just be Butter Chicken, Lamb Korma and Beef Vindaloo. Apparently there's 22 official languages of India due to the 22 States, and with such diversity the dishes available throughout India are very extensive and varied. With business partner and head chef Vikrant Kapoor at the kitchen helm, Zaaffran aims to tantalise its customers with unique and different dishes and educate them about the misconceptions that Indian food is the same everywhere and mostly spicy. Before dinner guests were invited to the balcony area for pre drinks and appetisers. The 2007 Blickling Estate Riesling 'Methode Champenoise' was a notch up from most general sparklings and the 2009 Blickling Estate Sauvignon Blanc reminded me of a decent Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough NZ. Three canapes were served and the lovely flavoured Prawns in coconut broth was my favourite of the night.

You can't go wrong with fresh Pappadums and mint dip as we sit down for a 5 course menu which is based on their new BBQ Banquet 'F' ($54.50 per person). Potato-corn mini patties pictured above being photographed by Anna from Morsel & Musings were tasty with a bit of a heat kick — I'd gladly have again. The delightful looking Gol guppas was a little messy to fill with the ingredients but fun. It's considered a street snack and even though it wasn't the most flavoursome item on the menu it was very interesting to try. Throughout the night we sampled Garlic, Mushroom, Plain and Buttered Naan — the garlic was my favourite but the mushroom version was a close second although I couldn't really taste the truffle butter in it. Out of all the menu dishes served the western style Salad looked out of place to me and didn't seem to be of Indian origin. 4 choices of Dips were on hand, Prune which was like a BBQ marinate, Beetroot, Chilli tomato which was very tasty and a classic mint.

Decent sized Tandoori king prawns were thankfully deveined and served alongside the Chicken seekh kebab. Both benefitted from a good squeeze of lemon. Seasonal fried fish was barramundi tonight with a slightly crispy coating and was followed by a well presented Baked salmon with fairly bold flavours. Before the 4th course a delicious Mango kulfi palate cleanser was served. Lightly battered Eggplant was topped with interesting flavours followed by small tender Lamb ribs which weren't particularly lean yet tasty. Finely minced Lamb seekh kebab was perhaps my least favourite of the night and would have preferred a bit more smokey flavour. The crunchy side salad of celery, apple, carrot, iceberg lettuce and kaffir lime was lovely. Strawberry lassi comes with rose kulfi giving it a nice refreshing taste. For dessert everyone gets their own well presented plate of Spire of saffron, Cardamom and roasted almonds kulfi, Dome of gulab jamun, Rose kulfi, Brandy glaze. I really enjoyed the rose kulfi, gulab jamun and the piece of layered style cake although I thought the kiwifruit wasn't particularly sweet enough for the dish for my taste buds. The dining area is simple, clean and functional and the service was knowledgeable and attentive. For the best views of the city and water grab a table on the balcony if the weather is nice.

Other blog reviews:

PROS: Knowledgeable and attentive service, Interesting dishes, Nice presentation, Water and city views available
CONS: Watch out for the sliding door bump, More expensive than your 'average' Indian takeaway
MUST TRY: Prawn curry appetiser, Pappadums, Garlic naan, Eggplant, Rose kulfi, Mango kulfi palate cleanser, Other dishes on the menu

Table setting

Food Bloggers Evening menu based on BBQ Banquet 'F' 5 courses ($54.50 per person)

Canape: Prawns in a fragrant coconut broth with saffron, lemon and lime

Canape: Potato Dumplings with carrot, peas, ginger, cashews, mustard and chilli

Canape: Mushrooms in a whole-wheat wrap with mint, coriander and cheese

Pappadums and mint dip

Potato-corn mini patties

Gol guppas

Garlic naan


Dips: Prune, beetroot, chilli tomato, mint

Tandoori king prawns and chicken seekh kebab

Mushroom naan with truffle butter

Seasonal fried fish (barramundi)

Baked salmon

Plain naan

Mango kulfi palate cleanser


Lamb ribs, Lamb seekh kebab

Buttered naan

Spire of saffron, Cardamom and roasted almonds kulfi, Dome of gulab jamun, Rose kulfi, Brandy glaze

Pre dinner drink: Blickling Estate Riesling 'Methode Champenoise' 2007 New England Tablelands NSW

Pre dinner drink: Blickling Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Dinner drinks: Blickling Estate Riesling 'Methode Champenoise' 2007 New England Tablelands NSW, AJA sauvignon blanc-semillon-verdelho 2008 Polkobin NSW, Kalleske Clarry's Grenache-shiraz 2008 Barossa Valley SA

Strawberry lassi

Pappadums and wafers prepared in advance

Inside dining

Looking inside from the balcony

Food bloggers and guests settling in

Wine rack

Nice mirrors in the toilets

Watch out for the door slide bump :-(

Chef and Partner Vikrant Kapoor


Darling Harbour

City skyline view from balcony

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Zaaffran on Urbanspoon


joey@FoodiePop said...

Where's the mango chicken? ;-)

3 hungry tummies said...

Interesting food with water view...I am jealous lol

Madam Wu said...

A mushroom naan with truffle butter? Now that's an unusual combination but no doubt incredible!

Anonymous said...

Great review, thanks. Chef doesn't look too enthusiastic though. As if he had a tough day. Will definitely visit the place. Views are to die for.

Anna said...

those are my hands at the top. and my inadequate camera!
sneaky photo!

twas great to meet you and L.

chocolatesuze said...

woohoo humans! i loved filling the gol guppas!

Simon Food Favourites said...

h joey, where exactly hehe. actually i don't think i've had mango chicken before. any good?

hi 3 hungry tummies, can't ask more than that.

hi madam wu, mushroom naan is new to me. something you probably won't find in your local Indian.

hi anonymous, was a quick photo of the chef so i probably didn't get the best shot of him although i do have a smiley one of him too.

hi anna, they certainly are your hands :-) and i have an inadequate camera too so don't worry. we should form a club for the point and shooters i think. great seeing you guys too. hope to catch up again.

hi chocolatesuze, first time i've come across those gol guppas. they were a bit of fun filling up :-)

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