During COVID-19 lockdown, most Canberrans have become very comfortable with treating themselves to home-delivered cuisine from the likes of Uber Eats and Menulog, but it’s a different story in many parts of the NSW South Coast.
Home for me is 10 acres out the back of Malua Bay, and takeaway is usually just what I can raid from my daughter’s fridge.
So imagine the excitement when I idly perused the Menulog app one evening this week and found a new addition: a restaurant that delivers to our neck of the woods.
Sure, there’s only one restaurant, but what made it even more exciting was that it was Kohli’s Waterfront Indian Restaurant – one of my favourite places to dine in Batemans Bay.
Kohli’s started out in Nowra and the low-key, out-of-the-way restaurant in Kinghorne Street was one of my go-to places to dine when I travelled for work.
When the owners opened a second restaurant in Batemans Bay, my little household was over the moon – an award-winning Indian restaurant just 20 minutes from home.
Kohli’s Waterfront Indian Restaurant in Orient Street, Batemans Bay, quickly built a fanbase both locally and in the ACT, regularly booking out for dinner and doing a brisk trade at lunch.
But like so many other dining experiences, it seems to have faded into my memory during the COVID-19 pandemic.
So what better way to celebrate freedom day – especially given I can’t squeeze into anything but tracksuit pants – than by ordering us all a home-delivered Indian feast.
Fortunately I have enough family on hand to order way over the minimum of $35. In fact, as takeaway, Indian isn’t your most economical option.
We easily racked up $190 to feed five, with entrees ranging from $8.50 for aloo tikki – lightly crumbed and deep fried mashed potato with peas, spices and cottage cheese – to $14.50 for a mixed combination platter, and mains costing between about $20 and $29.
Turns out we had more than enough. I’ll be eating leftovers for most of the week, but I’m not complaining.
We started out with the mixed combination platter, comprising vegetable samosa, pakora, malai wings and seekh kebab.
Everything is very clearly made on the premises – fresh, flavoursome and with just the right amount of kick.
The samosas were perfect pyramids of flaky pastry, stuffed with a delicious spiced potato filling, and the seekh kebab paired beautifully with the raita. The malai wings were just chicken wings as far as I was concerned, and I could take or leave them, but the pakora – oh, the pakora! These irresistible vegetable patties are Indian street food, and they are amazing.
Picking a main was difficult. My partner suggested goat, but given the fact that six of them were peering at us from the paddock, that was one dish we just had to leave alone.
The menu declares that butter chicken is Kohli’s most popular dish so that had to be in the order. We then added some lamb rogan josh, biryani rice, malai kofta, rice and garlic naan.
Let’s whip past the rice and naan (light, buttery, garlicky and delicious) and plunge headlong into the main attractions.
Because we have some wimps among us, we ordered the rogan josh mild, and it delivered all the taste without the burn that sometimes comes with Indian dinners. The rich gravy featured ground cumin seeds and was garnished with fresh coriander.
The butter chicken was rich, creamy and clearly the crowd favourite. According to the menu, it’s “firstly half-cooked the tandoori way” and then finished “the curry way”. I have no idea what that means, but it was delicious.
For me, the vegetarian malai kofta was the surprise hit of the evening. Malai means cream – no wonder I’m putting pressure on the tracksuit pants – and the kofta is croquettes of cottage cheese, potatoes, peas, corn and carrot, with cashew nuts and spices floating around in a rich sauce.
What’s not to like?
My partner couldn’t go past the biryani rice, which we ordered with lamb – a specialty from the Mughal days, according to the menu. I haven’t been around that long so I can’t confirm, but it was spicy, light and aromatic, and the lamb was tasty and tender.
Couldn’t fault it.
I don’t think takeaway food is ever as good as sitting down in a restaurant, but Kohli’s gives it a good shake and there’s a lot to be said for sinking into your own couch in a food coma.
Lockdown may have lifted, but I think great food, combined with the convenience of home delivery, will see this Batemans Bay Indian restaurant busier than ever in the months ahead.