Between Zoolander, Back to the Future, Teen Woolf, a little bit of perfectly aged parmesan, a Seductive Red and some profoundly roasted vegetables with Meredith Valley goats cheese, I had the best night I have had in a long, long time. I even got a bit teary during the fireworks! Cake and Knifelings, make no mistake about the Jubilant Joys, the Tremorous Thrills, the Ardently Electric Spectacularity, of that downright brilliant of age old strategies, of Kings, and of Men, and of Middle Aged Women and other Malcontents... Cake and Kinfelings, I give you: Avoiding Disappointment. That's right. Setting your standards low, getting comfy, and just plain sitting back. Sometimes it just gets too much to live a full, blooming and billowing existence, and avoiding disappointment goes from being a bit of a Cop Out to being a holy epiphany drawn from life's Great Abyss. Are you just listening, or are you really hearing me? Avoiding disappointment is a philosophy you can apply to every facet of modern day living, none so much as to the realm that exists between Knife and Fork, that crazy little world of white: The Plate.
When I am hungry (often), when I am lazy (quite often), when I want something unbelievably effortless and delicious (always), when I do not, under any remote circumstances, want anything new and potentially disappointing (sometimes), I do the following: I waddle down to my car, I get into to my car, I traverse the 5 or so roadly minutes between my earthly abode and a little realm we shall call King St Heaven. I park, I get down, I walk to Kammadhenu, Newtown, and I order the culinary equivalent of a captured lion's roar: The Kammadhenu Eggplant Curry, and this is how I, Amanda Bechara, Avoid Disappointment.
Kammadhenu, for those of you who haven't lost your tongue already to one of these amazing eggplant curries, has a bit of a beautiful identity crisis: it offers Malaysian, South Indian and Srilankan cuisine. All in one place, and all for your wanton gobbling! I have tried a few dishes here, but none so dreamy as their Eggplant Curry. You will not believe that one little bronzed pot of vegetable curry can contain so much wonder, so much spice, so much ferocious and fervent intensity. It doesn't even come in a bowl. It comes hovering a top a black hole of cosmic, culinary deliciousness masquerading as a bowl.
Smell it. Look at it. Savour the moment, savour those precious few seconds before taste and bite and explosion, savour that fleeting Just Before. You're about to tuck in, and you know it's going to be good. You know it's going to be delicious. It might sting a bit, but you're staying true until the end.
Beautiful chunks of earthy eggplant with the shiny seal like whispers of their blackened skins sway languidly in a curry paste that is alive and singing with the fire of what it is. A deep, rich, heady, soulful curry. You work your way through it so slowly, one bite, with some rice, then another, a couple of moments to collect yourself and then back again. All of the herbs and spices mix wonderously into each other, it's only every now and then that the tail end of a fleeting flavour can be caught and stopped and isolated and named, before it dissolves blissfully, again, into the chillied fire-flickering heat of an orgasmic and tamarindishly twirling confusion. Step a little closer, now...
I was falling in love as I was taking these shots, the luminescence and magic of the delicate eggplanty flesh was almost God-like, it's like you can see the spices and the heat of it being betrayed upon its steaming, shimmering surface. So delicious. Helena, Celeste, Kathy, all very fussy girls, all so hard please, and all high priestesses of this most ardently torrid of tastes. Is it getting hot in here, or is it just the eggplant?
Being Lebanese almost makes it treacherous of me not to order the garlic naan, and so, order it I do, and then I disappear. I disappear into the smouldering blackened-here, delicately doughy-there folds, curves and embraces of sheer garlic voluptuary. You tear at it and rip at it and wrap it all around itself, again and again and again, and then you... devour. So satisfying an earthly pleasure, I wish it was my Daily Bread.
Dosai, of decent stock, satisfies a very discerning Danny who still has a place in his heart for the now closed down Sagar that one stood on Cleveland St. Danny loves it a la Masala, with steaming chunks of screamingly tumericked, mustard seeded potato, all clandestinely embedded in a beautiful lentil pancake. Golden and dancing and holy.
If you've never dosai-ed before, these giant lentil/rice pancakes are as fun to deconstruct as they are to commit, through the aid of exacting knife and fork, to the realm of alimentary oblivion. With about twenty types of dosai to choose from, you can have your filling almost any way you like it, and even with a little bit on the side...
Coconut and Chili chutney that is as delicate and luscious as babies breath. Douse a little crisp Dosai pancake quickly into and out of this little creamy pot and let the wonderful potato infuse itself with a coconutted cream craziness.
I got a little lost in all those Dosai dipping sides, they're like beautiful wallflowers for your taste buds to gaze at, and then to dance with, just a little, one, by delectable one.
I'll have to do a separate piece on the wonderful Hoppers one day. This really is a place to come, eat, drink and be merry, to your spicy heart's content. Cheap and so, so satisfying. I do prefer their vegetarian dishes, they stand out far and above the others, perhaps because of the Southern Indian influence. To cool off the fireworks in your mouth, there's a great selection of soft drinks, some local and some not, and a hell of a lot of beers. They even stock Indian Kingfisher. Beer and Curry and some surreptitious burping...isn't that what life's all about?
You just can't walk away from Kammadhenu disappointed. Time, and time again, we come, we eggplant, we love and we leave, only to come back again. If you're unfamiliar with this type of food, discover it, it's a wonderful way to eat lots and lots of vegetables and to learn about just how exciting they can be, when you know what to do with them. Indian cuisine, especially, is fast colonizing my stomach, I fall in love with it a little more every day.
Kammadhenu happens, among another location at 12 Waters Rd Neutral Bay, at 171 and 377a King St, Newtown. The full menu can be lusted over here. ph: 9550 2611.
In 2010, even if the cup is half empty, make sure it's full of really, really rocking stuff. Disappointment, is like, sooo 2009.
Happy New Year, eggplants x