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Flavours of India: Spicing up an old favourite

Helena Game, Valeriya Lloyd and Elsie Adamo

A 126-year-old carved wooden door, all the way from India, is not what you’d expect to find at a suburban shopping centre.

But that’s exactly what diners at Westfield Woden step through as they enter Flavours of India in the Corinna Street dining precinct. Recently undergoing renovations, the doors aren’t the only conversation starter: a stunning peacock mosaic runs along one wall, bringing a touch of the East to Canberra.

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For owner Vikas Randev and wife Sue, it’s about more than dishing up exceptional food – it’s about telling a story.

Vikas has an extensive knowledge of the different types of food found throughout India and is passionate about providing an authentic Indian experience — a far cry from the ‘British’ or ‘Australianised’ version of Indian food he discovered when he first moved here.

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Sue and Vikas

“I came to Australia and thought, ‘what is this nonsense?’ It wasn’t Indian,” he says.

We decided to discover Vika’s authentic Indian cuisine for ourselves, taking up a table near the window one weekday lunchtime and trying a variety of the dishes on offer. Vikas jested that there would be “no butter chicken today!,” (although they do have a great version of it on their menu).

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Golgappa

On a hot day, Indian doesn’t always spring to mind as the clear choice, but two of our entrées went perfectly with the warm weather.

The first dish was Golgappa; round, hollow wheat puffs, fried crisp and filled with a spicy flavoured water, a street dish from Northern India. The flavoured water included mint and cumin and it was delicious – the dish is favourite of Sue’s; she told us she “can never get enough of it.”

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Next up was Sweet Potato and Spinach Chaat, a cold salad comprising sweet potato crisps, mint, yogurt and chutney. The balance of flavours with the salads and the texture of the crisps was particularly lovely.

For those who like seafood, the restaurant prepared a Chef’s Special treat of a Portuguese -influenced Goan Dish, which was King prawns blended with coconut vinegar and garam masala sauce. It’s clear that Vikas’ aim is to serve traditional flavours with a modern twist. And it works.

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For traditional curry-lovers, the Beef Vindaloo is a great choice, especially for those who love spicy food and don’t mind a bit of sweat in the heat!

Another stand-out dish was the Kosha Mangsho, a rich meal of tender goat shanks, served with baby potatoes and garam masala sauce.

One thing that Vikas and Sue focus on is the presentation of the food, and it really shows in the contemporary twist they have used in their dishes.

“Food is like music, it’s the same basic tools and methods but how it’s presented or interpreted is what makes it different,” he says. Vikas has high hopes for the future of Flavours of India’s culinary reputation as he hopes to launch a Chef’s Table style menu in the future with paired wines.

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Vikas and Sue provided us with attentive service, patiently talking us through each dish while providing background information on Indian cuisine.

“We opened eight years ago [and] we thought it would be a great opportunity to give it a fresh look,” explained Vikas as to the restaurant’s new decor.

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The result is a modern yet homely atmosphere, with lots of light during the day for lunch-goers, and the potential for a quiet, intimate dinner. The new menu provides a great range of exciting contemporary choices combined with old favourites and the friendly staff deliver great service in a great atmosphere.

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If you want to experience authentic Indian food in Canberra, this is where you should go.

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the essentials

What: Flavours of India
Where: G 90, Woden Plaza, Corinna Street, Phillip
Opening Hours: Lunch, 12 pm to 2.30 pm, Monday to Friday. Dinner: 5.30 pm to 10 pm, seven days per week. Takeaway menu available
Website: www.flavoursofindia.com.au
Phone: (02) 6260 5441

Photography by Kerrie Brewer. 

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Helena Game

Helena is a wannabe journalist studying Communications and Journalism at the University of Canberra. Canberra born and bred, she is hopelessly in love with writing, stories and travel. She recently wrote her way around Japan for a creative writing study tour, and spent another two weeks in the Middle East on a journalism exchange, both of which have left her with a proper case of the post-travel blues. While she plots her next adventure, Helena is hoping to gain as much industry experience as humanly possible, and somehow finish her degree at the same time. More about the Author

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Valeriya Lloyd

Val is studying Communications in Media and Public Affairs at University of Canberra and has a great passion for writing (in two languages as she originally came to Canberra from Russia). Val enjoys writing about life generally, and sometimes from a fictional perspective. She often generates new ideas in sudden moments and admits that she has at least two diaries, where she writes her notes and inspiration for future stories. She loves to meet new people and showcase their talents and originality. Val is very social person, who loves the local lifestyle and the inner beauty of Canberra. More about the Author

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Elsie Adamo

Elsie originally hails from South Australia but after almost five years in the Capital likes to consider herself now as a local. A student at ANU she keeps herself busy on campus with student societies and now interning at HerCanberra. Her great loves include sitcoms, podcasts, bookstores, cider, brunch and online shopping. More about the Author

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