MELBOURNE | The quality and variety of street food in Melbourne has improved markedly in recent years, driven in large part by the explosion in the number of food trucks roaming our streets and the prevalence of ‘food truck parks’ around the city. However, for those wanting to sit down indoors (out of the range of our whimsical weather), quality street food offerings are still somewhat rare. Having opened in March 2015, Delhi Streets has quickly made an impact taking out the ‘Best Cheap Eat’ award in The Age Good Food Guide 2016, offering affordable Indian street food in a casual setting. We were recently invited to sample the menu at Delhi Streets and were very interested to see if it lived up to the hype. We didn’t pay on this occasion, but have included prices for your reference.
Located in an small space on Katherine Place, in the south-west corner of Melbourne’s CBD, right next to bagel-makers 5 & Dime, you would be hard pressed to come across Delhi Streets unless you had a specific plan to go there.
The interior Delhi Streets has been designed to resemble street eateries that its family of owners used to visit back in India, creating a bright and colourful environment which makes extensive use of wood and a combination of high and low shared benches and tables to create a comfortable dining experience that is suitable for individual diners, couples or small groups.
The wall behind the tables for group dining are adorned with Bollywood posters which further enhance the casual atmosphere and the Indian feel of the place.
Even the chairs are branded with the logo of one of the largest Indian companies.
Mango Lassi ($3.50)
The drinks list includes classic Indian beverages like lassi and chai masala, as well as a range of lager-style beers which when served ice cold are a great accompaniment to spicy food, including Kingfisher and Haywards 5000 which are two of India’s major beer brands. We started our meal with a mango lassi which was made true to style, milky without being so thick that it was difficult to drink through the straw and not too sweet with a good amount of mango flavour.
The food menu consists of a variety of chaat (savory snacks served at street stalls typically made with various forms of fried bread), Indian-style wraps and ‘pizza naan’, classic main meals including curries and biryani and a range of desserts. We were lucky enough to have a chance to sample a wide range of dishes from the menu.
Pani Puri (5 for $7.00)
Pani Puri is a typical Indian street snack, made of a small hollowed puri (an unleavened flatbread), filled with potatoes, chickpeas, onions and tamarind chutney. Translating literally to ‘water bread’, these are served with spiced water which you pour into the puri until it is half full before eating it in one go (which can be challenging!). This was a light way to start our meal with a good combination of flavours and the wafer-thin puri somehow not collapsing when the water was added.
Bhel Puri ($6.00)
Bhel Puri is an Indian salad consisting of puffed rice, sev (small pieces of crunchy noodles), onions, tomatoes, potatoes and coriander, served in a paper cone with tamarind chutney. This dish, which originated in Mumbai, is typical of the chaat that one can find on the streets of India. This dish had a nice combination of sweet and sour flavours and a good crush from the noodles sprinkled throughout.
Aloo Tikki ($7.00)
Aloo Tikki (potato cakes) are a classic Indian entree made up of fried potato and green pea cakes served with coriander, yoghurt and tamarind and mint chutneys. This dish was an interesting contrast of a crisp outside with a soft inside, combined with a great mix of spices and flavours. The tamarind chutney which the Delhi Streets version of Aloo Tikki is served with added some much welcome extra spice and an extra dimension to the dish.
Chicken Biryani ($12.00)
Described on the menu as a Hyderabadi Paella, biryani is a traditional Indian spiced rice, cooked with chicken, saffron (which gives the yellow colour), a range of herbs and spices and served with raita yoghurt on the side. This dish sits somewhere between a traditional Spanish paella (which tends to have more broth) and a Chinese-style fried rice which tends to be drier and not spicy. As with all the dishes we had tried so far the biryani was cooked well with authentic flavours and a good balance between the various ingredients.
Chana Bhatura ($14.00)
One of the signature dishes at Delhi Streets, the Chana Bhatura is a pot of spiced chickpeas in tamarind chutney served with a fried, puffed naan bread and is one of the most common breakfast foods eaten in northern India (akin to roti prata eaten in Malaysia and Singapore). This was the highlight of the meal for me (let’s face it, fried is the best way to eat anything). The naan was fried perfectly so that it was not too oily and was soft and dense enough that it nicely absorbed the same array of spices that were prevalent across the previous dishes.
Masala Dosa ($10.00)
Dosa is an Indian-style thin crepe which originates from the southern states of India. Made from rice batter and lentils, dosa is light and soft and has a slightly sour flavour and at Delhi Streets it is filled with spiced potatoes and is served with coconut chutney and sambar (a lentil-based stew). This was probably my least favourite dish of the meal, the dosa itself was done well but the potatoes could have used more spice in my opinion.
Thali ($10.00 to $13.00 depending on how many curries are chosen)
Translating simply to ‘plate’, thali is an Indian dish that is a plate of various dishes and which generally aims to bring together all six different flavours – salty, sweet, bitter, sour, spicy and astringent. At Delhi Streets the thali is made up of a range of curries as well as rice, pappadams and naan bread. On any given day there will be a range of four curries available (two meat and two vegetarian) and options exist to have two vegetarian, one meat/one vegetarian, two meat or three curries on your plate. On the day we visited the curries available were butter chicken, beef vindaloo, eggplant masala and dahl makhani – these were done well with authentic flavours and I enjoyed them all but I would generally expect a vindaloo to be quite a bit spicier.
Nutella Naan, Chocolate Naan, Carrot Halwa, Gulab Jamun & Pistachio Kulfi ($5.00 each, anticlockwise from top)
To finish off one’s meal, Delhi Streets offers a range of desserts. When we visited we had 2 different types of dessert naan (one smothered with nutella and another filled with M&Ms), a sweet carrot pudding with almonds and pistachios, cottage cheese dumplings soaked in syrup and a pistachio ice cream flavoured with cardamom, saffron and cinnamon. Of these my picks would be the naan which were fried until crispy (as distinct from the chana bhatura which was soft) giving a result similar to dessert pizzas, and also the pistachio kulfi which was not too creamy and was a refreshing way to end the meal.
I very much enjoyed my meal at Delhi Streets. All of the dishes were spot on in terms of style and flavours (although I would have preferred some of the dishes to be spicier – but this is a personal preference) and were all very well priced. I would suggest that anyone who happens to find themselves in the west end of the CBD and in the mood for some Indian food that isn’t just naan and curry to head on in and check out Delhi Streets.
22 Katherine Place
Mon – Fri: 11:30am to 2:30pm; 5:30pm to late
Sat: 5:30pm to late