* I was invited as a guest of Daana, however all opinions are my own.
If you remember the shipping container village Westside in Acton, you might have come across Daana specialising in South Indian cuisine. As Westside is no more, the team at Daana, Sunita and Sanjay, moved their business to Curtin to start a new chapter. I was invited to dine at Daana to try some of their dishes. I started off with a mango lassi (usually $7), just one of their flavoured lassi’s with other flavours such as salted lassi with roasted cumin.
We shared the mixed entree platter for two (usually $28) which consisted of 8 pieces – fried banana chilly with a spicy filling (mirchi bihajji), a pastry similar to a samosa filled with potato and peas (aloo matar ki luqmi), spicy chicken drumsticks with curry leaves and shallots (karavupellai kori varuval), and semolina crusted pan fried fish fillets (meen rava fry). These came with a side of three sauces – chilly, tamarind, and yoghurt. Everything was beautifully crispy with my favourites being the luqmi and fish.
For the mains, I chose one of the dosas (a South Indian specialty food) with chicken curry (usually $18). A dosa is a crispy fried savoury crepe that’s dipped into a filling. This came accompanied with two chutneys – coconut and tomato. The crepe was larger than I thought it would be and very crispy. It was quite oily but that’s to be expected of a fried crepe. The chicken curry was delicious with several herbs and spices that I cannot name mixed throughout, and thick chunks of succulent chicken. The coconut chutney was a fantastic contrast to help cool down, and I needed more of it. I’m sure if you ask nicely, you’d get more of it.
Next we chose a main from the specials menu. Daana often do rotating specials with dishes from different regions of India, and at the time, they were holding a Pan Indian Biryani Festival. I chose the Kerala speciality of prawn biryani made with Jeeraga Samba rice, served with onion raita, kachumber salad, coconut chutney, pickle and pappadams (usually $30). A very generous serving was provided with biryani piled up high and coloured brightly from turmeric. There was a medium heat to the rice from the chilies offset by the much needed coconut chutney and fresh salad. There were plenty of large prawns. I found the dish a tad too salty for my liking but that could just be me.
Sunita surprised us with two desserts before we left. One was the slow cooked dried apricots topped with whipped cream and almond flakes – the apricots had been softly poached as a simple dessert, this was Mr FPJ’s favourite of the two. The other was yellow moong cooked in jaggary and coconut milk which was my favourite of the two. I grew up eating mung beans in desserts so this reminded me of my younger years. Basically split yellow mung beans in a sweet coconutty warm stew. I was so full from dinner after this!
As there are so many wonderful dishes on the menu, it was difficult selecting what to eat at Daana. There are several vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, a kids menu and several traditional beverages. On Saturdays, you can try the all-you-can-eat thali (veg ($30 and non-veg $35 options not including drinks). Sunita and Sanjay change up the cuisine from a different region each week so you’ll always have something new to try.
Daana hosts a Karma Kitchen event a few times a year, where there is no set price for a 3-course meal and diners can pay what they want. A portion of proceeds go to a charity or cause. The next Karma Kitchen is being held in March 2018. You can find more information on their website. If you like love Indian food and trying out the differences from various regions, Daana is a great place to check out.
A big thank you to Sunita and Sanjay for their hospitality.
83 Theodore Street, Curtin, ACT
Monday-Wednesday: Dinner only 5.30-9.30pm
Thursday-Saturday: Lunch and dinner 12.00-2.30pm, 5.30-9.30pm
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