Dylan and I had the opportunity to check out Miss India at Carindale last week - the first of the Miss India outlets to be licensed in Australia. We're both fans of Indian food and could certainly see the appeal of Miss India: tasty, well-priced instant Indian with decadent naan breads made to order. These restaurants are popular for a reason.
Whilst our local Miss India has tables and chairs, it seems to be more geared towards takeaway - and with good reason. What other Indian restaurant can package up some tasty hot curries for you without zero wait time?
I was intrigued when I heard that Miss India at Carindale had gone to the trouble and expense of obtaining a liquor license. Quite evidently a push for patrons to dine-in more often. All other franchises are BYO at this stage.
Dylan and I arrived hungry, which is bloody necessary when it comes to Indian feasting! We met the lovely owner Rupinder, who was more than happy to answer all my questions about the food and how it's prepared.
One area of interest to me is naan. The fresh made flatbreads are so popular that people will happily wait as long as necessary for a fresh naan to be cooked. Generally, the wait for your fresh naan is less than five minutes, but Rupinder tells me that even when they are swamped with orders, her customers are always happy to wait longer for their own carby piece of heaven.
Anyone who is a fan of good naan will understand why these are worth the wait. The dough is rested for a minimum of fifteen hours, which lends to that sexy elasticity you get with a truly resplendent naan. The resting time involved with making traditional naan bread helps me to make sense of the similarities between a great naan and a great Neapolitan pizza. In the accredited pizzerias of Naples such as Da Michele, pizza dough is rested for 12-18 hours in order to create a pizza base that is everything a sane pizza aficionado wants: chewy, crisp, soft and elastic; somehow all at once.
Miss India at Carindale has some elaborate pizza-style naan fillings such as the 'Special' Naan with olives, fresh parsley, cheese, green peas, tomato and more. Truly a love child of an Italian pizza and an Indian naan. It may not be traditional, but there were no complaints at our table! I believe that 'delicious' is far more important than tradition for tradition's sake, and the Special Naan was a great example.
We wanted to try a solid selection of the 16 curries that were on offer. After a cheeky starter of tandoori chicken pieces with chilli mint sauce and raita (yum!) we tucked into two Thali plates. The clever concept of a Thali plate offers you moderate portions of three curries, plus saffron rice, cucumber and tomato salad and raita. This is a delicious homage to the indecisive among us: when there are 16 sumptuous curries on offer, how on earth are you to choose one? Although in saying that, Rupinder confirmed my suspicion that Butter Chicken is still The Most Popular curry of all time. I can see the appeal of Butter Chicken, although being a heat-lover, I generally find it a tad dull in comparison to some of the other delicious curries available from India's many regions. I must admit our kids love it though - it's always important to have something mild on the menu to keep the kids and softies happy while the hot heads hurt themselves! Mango Chicken is another of those comforting mild dishes that will keep the kids happy. Surely this must be a Queensland invention?!
Dylan and I chose a Lamb versus Chicken theme for our Thali plates. The Lamb contenders were: Rogan Josh, Madras and Korma, while the Chicken plate showcased the ubiquitous Butter Chicken, Tikka Masala and Vindaloo. We also tasted miniature portions of four vegetarian curries: Dahl, Eggplant and Potato, Korma and Chickpea and Potato.
I would have happily chowed down on a huge portion of the Dahl, which is saying something as I'm generally unmoved by lentils. In fact, Miss India is a great spot for the omnivorous couple: one vego, one carnivore! I know I’d happily chow down on any of the vegetarian curries on offer while Dylan would busy himself in the Lamb section!
Our firm favourites were the Chicken Vindaloo for the heat, followed by the Rogan Josh and Madras for complexity and comfort. We opted for a Kashmiri naan and Rupinder insisted we try the aforementioned Special Naan. The Kashmiri was studded with sultanas, nuts and coconut: offering a hint of sweetness to offset the delicious heat in the Vindaloo.
I must admit my preference is always a plain naan, piping hot. Nothing better. Either way we were very pleased with the elasticity and flavour offered in the naans we tried and hurt ourselves attempting to finish both!
All of this could be a standard decadent feast at your local Miss India, except this time we were washing it all down with Two Churches Barossa Chardonnay. We don't drink Chardy often but I'm coming to realise how much it truly is a ‘food’ wine. Years ago, I was at Il Centro when a large table of us asked for a wine match for the celebrated Sand Crab Lasagne. The head wine snob at the table turned their nose up at the Chardonnay offered and opted for a Sauvignon Blanc instead. In retrospect it's exactly those rich dishes like a creamy seafood pasta or a rich Indian curry that are complemented so beautifully by a buttery Chardonnay. I might just be a convert.
We rounded out the meal with two dainty GulaB Jamun doughnuts in sugar syrup. Even though we were full, we really enjoyed these little treats. I'm told they're great microwaved for 10 seconds and served with ice-cream for those partial to takeaway. Do try them next time you pop in to your local Miss India!
Miss India has been providing Australians with the fragrant tastes of Northern India since March 2004, now with over 25 locations across Queensland. Our experience at Miss India Carindale was fun, fast and friendly. If you’re not a regular at your local Miss India and you’re after an easy, hot and tasty meal this winter, why not pop in for a casual dine-in experience or get some takeaway to enjoy in your pyjamas?
The wine wall at Miss India Carindale.
Warm and welcoming, we saw a helluva lot of people come in for takeaway while we dined in and the service was very prompt. Hopefully the dine-in experience complete with beer and wine takes off for them!