Monday, July 11, 2005

A Little Spicy Adventure Part II - Eat Up!

Spicy Adventure - Best of Indian and Sri Lankan Food
After a few hours of shopping, we are of course hungry! I have long awaited this moment of us setting food in a typical Indian eatery in Sydney. Having said that, we of course deserved nothing better but the best of Indian and Sri Lankan Food.

AG and I were definitely very excited about our little Indian eat-out. We couldn't wait to find out where we will have lunch. This was when Saffron quoted:
Guys, I hope you don't mind if I bring you to this small and really dodgy looking Sri Lankan/Indian place for lunch.

So I was imagining this tiny little eatery at a petty corner, just almost negligible. But Saffron's quote was proved just so so wrong as we approached Janani! Because the place is not the least any dodgy. It looks bright and chirpy, and bustling with what seems to an endless stream of diners.

♥ tabeshimashita @ Janani, Homebush on 26 June 2005
Spicy Adventure - Janani Sauces on Table
♥ Chilli Sauces on the Table
I don't know what to say but this place is just so Indian, with tables lined with white plastic lacy sheets, chilli sauce and tomato sauce on the table, and napkins & cutlery in stainless steel container. And I haven't yet mentioned the distinctive Indian/Sri Lankan aroma that floats throughout the restaurant.

I was oozing and aahing at the big shiny stainless steel trays loaded with yummies that were served at other tables. And I couldnt help but kept gazing at the tv at the back of the restaurant that has some sort of Indian/Bollywood soapies running. It did feel a little like the Indian eatery back home except that it is bigger and they speak English here instead of Malay!

Spicy Adventure - Janani Indian Soft Drinks
♥ Indian Soft Drinks
After deciding on what we wanted to eat with my head nodding vigorously on whether we were to had the dosai, the three of us moved towards the fridge loaded with very interesting looking bottles of softdrink at the corner. The bottles were all very colourful and certainly eye-catching. It didn't take us long to decide what to try though. Saffron had the cream soda (far right), I had the sparkling portello (centre) that Saffron described as a sparkling ribena, and AG had the ginger beer.

A waiter came and opened our bottles of drink. As I watched him opening the bottles one by one, I couldn't help but asked if I could keep the bottle tops, and the whole table collapsed in laughter. Oh yes, AG and Saffron were laughing so hard while I looked at the waiter seriously.

Spicy Adventure - Janani Indian Soft Drinks Lid
♥ Indian Soft Drinks Bottle Tops
Under my gaze, the waiter agreed to give me the bottle tops. I could tell he was trying hard not to laugh out himself. It was probably because of this that he had some trouble opening the last bottle, which was when I asked him to give me the bottle tops.

My sparkling portello tasted like a mixture of ribena and ice-cream soda. It's sweet and just very lovely.

Spicy Adventure - Janani Idli with Condiments
Idli with Condiments A$5
It didn't take long for the food to arrive. The idli, that comes in 4 pieces a serve for A$5, is a light and fluffy steamed rice cakes roundish in shape, served with sambar (dark brown sauce in pic), red chilli chutney (orangy sauce), and green chilli chutney (green sauce).

The idli on its own was slightly savoury and I found it quite enjoyable even without the condiments. The texture is very similar to bak tong go (steamed sugar cake). It's dense and moist yet light and fluffy at the same time. I am thinking this would be really good with honey!

Spicy Adventure - Janani Kothu Rotti
♥ Lamb Kothu Rotti A$9
Then the kothu rotti came. This is a Sri Lankan dish where rotti (a fluffy bread-like pancake) is chopped up in shreads or cubes and stir fried with egg, vegetable, onion and lamb. It is served with a thick curry sauce. I would have to say this is my favourite dish of the day. The flavour is very much similar to the Malaysian char kuey teow with a slight chargrilled sorta flavour attached. The rotti tasted slightly chunky and once again reminded me of the Chinese dao xiao mian (knife shredded noodles).

As we immerged ourselves into these goodies, we heard a loud "clang clang" noise coming from the kitchen. It had sounded like someone was trying to make some sort of music/drumming code by knocking on a metal plate with a spoon. Saffron explained that the chef in there was having fun chopping up the rotti into tiny pieces for the making of kothu rotti. This chopping skill might come in very handy when you need some stress relieve!

Spicy Adventure - Janani Masala Dosai
♥ Masala Dosai A$6
*yay* And the masala dosai arrived. The dosai, which I have heard and seen on tv and in magazines or cookbooks on numerous account but never tried, is a thin and crispy Indian crepe made from rice. Masala refers to the potato curries and chutney that come with dosai. The masala dosai is served with condiments similar to idli - sambar and chutneys.

Spicy Adventure - Janani Masala Dosai Interior
♥ What's Hiding under that piece of crispy pancake?
We gazed at the longish crepe and all had the same thought. You see, great minds think alike. The three of us reached for our cameras and were in action almost at the same time. Our mission was to explore and discover what exactly was hiding underneath the giant crispy crepe.

Spicy Adventure - Janani Saffron in Action
♥ Saffron in cutting action
The picture above didn't tell us much about the creature (or food) hiding underneath so we urshered Saffron to go ahead and do a dissection. And Saffron sure knows how to dissect the dosai well. Chop, chop, chop. The crepe was cut into 4 equal pieces in no time.

Spicy Adventure - Janani Masala Dosai A Piece
♥ The Potato Curry revealed
The combination of light crispy crust with dense yet soft and very flavourful potato curry was just marvellous! Though I think I love the crust bit better than the filling. I have always been a crust girl. Yes, I admit that I actually enjoy pizza crust more than the bits with fillings on top, and I headed for tart crust and leave the filling for ShinChan when I have any sort of tarts (except daan tart)! :-)

Spicy Adventure - Janani String Hopper
♥ White String Hopper A$4
The string hopper is another Sri Lankan specialty. These are small vermicelli-like strings of rice dough/batter squeezed through a sieve onto small bamboo plate, and steamed, as Saffron explained. It was served with sothi (curry) and coconut sambol.

Spicy Adventure - Janani String Hopper with Curries and Coconut Sambol
♥ How to Eat String Hopper - Part I
AG and I followed Saffron on the lead to eat string hopper. First take a piece of string hopper, place it onto your plate. Then sprinkle a few spoonful of the sothi over and topped with coconut sambol.

Spicy Adventure - Saffron's Demonstrating How to Eat with Hand
♥ How to Eat String Hopper - Part II Saffron's Demo
And the best way to eat string hopper? Eat with your hand! Yes, you are seeing Saffron doing a demo on how to eat with your hand here. Mix, mix then pick it up and put it into your mouth.

pinkcocoa (squeking excited at beginning of lunch): Oh Oh! Can I eat with my hand? Please? Pretty please?
Saffron (very patiently): Of course you can.

So we waited and waited. We didn't eat with out hands until our last dish because we didn't want our cameras to end up soaked with curries and chutneys. We got some photos to take, remember? Then the string hopper arrived. We quickly snapped the pics and Saffron had turned into our teacher. The two students watching in excitement on their very first eat-with-fingers-in-restaurant experience.

And blimey, it was totally a different experience when it came to eating with hands/fingers than with cutlery. Aaahhh yes, eating out at Indian is not completed unless you digged into their culture and eat with your own hand! :"p You don't have to worry about getting your hands dirty and having no where to clean them. The eatery has a sink completed with rosey liquid soap and paper towel for you to wipe dry your hands at the very far end of the restaurant!

As we finished off our lunch, Saffron had kindly told us the name of each dish again. And suddenly, AG had a tiny notebook out on her hand and a pen on the other, jotting down notes as Saffron continued to explain. Isn't AG just such a dedicated foodblogger? I would be so lazy to take any sorta notes.

The bill arrived and it came to a total of $30! I gasped unbelievably and I caught AG with the same expression - it is just so unbelievably cheap! I mean 4 big dishes completed with drink for only A$10pp and we didn't even manage to finish everthing? And to imagine a pity portion of 2 curries with rice at an Indian fast food store cost around A$8. Yes, I am definitely coming back to Janani the next time I crave for Indian/Sri Lankan food!

♥ Janani
32 Burlington Road
Homebush NSW
tel. +61 2 9763 2306

♥ Related Posts
A Little Spicy Adventure Part I - Sub-Continental Shopping Spree

Saffron at Writing on a Paper Napkin
Spice Adventures: Part I
Spice Adventures: Part II

AugustusGloop at Grab Your Fork
Spice Up Your Life Part I: Saffron's Spice Tour
Spice Up Your Life Part II: Janani, Homebush
Spice Up Your Life Part III: Janani Sweets, Homebush