When Sadia Kiyani arrived here from Pakistani Punjab about four years ago, she soon realised she would need a driver’s licence.

Her driving instructor, Ravinder Chauhan, hails from Indian Punjab, and the pair struck up a friendship that bloomed into a restaurant.

Sada Bahaar

  • Address: 308 Ballarat Road, Braybrook
  • Phone: 9973 1097

 

Sada Bahaar (meaning ‘evergreen’) is situated on a stretch of Ballarat Road that is never, ever going to win any beauty contests … but it is showing signs of increasing foodiness, with a long-time Sri Lankan place we have yet to cover, a much newer, cheap ‘n’ cheerful Sri Lankan place, as well as a burger joint. Also nearby – just around the corner really – is the wonderful West of Kin.

With its origins in friendship, Sada Bahaar is a comfy eatery with a vibe that is almost un-restaurant – the same person who takes your order is also going to be among those knocking your food together in the kitchen … we like that. We like, too, the chance to explore some different dishes from the usual Indian stuff we devour on a weekly (at least) basis.

To that end, our very good buddy Nat Stockley has already made inquiries along those lines even before Bennie and I rock up.

We enjoy a very tasty meal that blends Indian and Pakistani tucker in fine home-cooked style.

Dahi bhalay ($7.50) are deep-fried urad dal dumplings served with spiced yogurt, chick peas and onion bits. Very nice …

Haleem is not so much a Pakistani dish, but more a staple – made of grains, pulses, meat – across the Muslim world, and is often associated with Ramadam. This chicken version ($10) is very soup-like, the chook so finely minced that it all becomes one with the ingredients.

With its cool fried-onion topping, it reminds me of our favourite Iraqi soup.

From the tight barbecue section of the menu we get lamb seekh kebab ($10) – two long, skinless snags of minced lamb that are quite crumbly but nevertheless delicious.

All too often the chick peas we get in Indian restaurants seem to be getting a bit tired. By contrast, the Sada Bahaar Lahori cholay ($10) smacks of freshly cooked – but with the gravy and intact pulses nicely integrated.

Sada Bahaar special kahari ($14) is a triumph – a rich (and, yes, rather oily) chook curry with high-impact flavours boosted to another level by the many ginger strands and discs of fresh, green chilli of its garnish. The chicken pieces are quite bony.

We get one each of the regular and garlic naans ($1 each) – they’re okay but unusual – more like flat bread than most naan we eat.

I prefer the chapati ($1) we also order.

Kenny Weir is the founder of Consider the Sauce, the definitive guide to eating in Melbourne’s western suburbs – www.considerthesauce.net

Lahori Cholay. Photo: Supplied

Lahori Cholay. Photo: Supplied

Sadia Kiyani and Ravinder Chauhan. Photo: Supplied

Sadia Kiyani and Ravinder Chauhan. Photo: Supplied