Zaaffran aims to set itself apart from many other Indian restaurants, shifting its focus from just curries to other hawker style foods that have been long time traditional favourites and are often left forgotten for their more famous curry counterparts (we’re looking at you butter chicken.) The food incorporates both Northern and Southern Indian, which makes the menu a bit more unique, using the spices and sauces from all over India.
The “Khoomcha Trail” ($68pp) is the latest set menu for the restaurant, and the way to go to fully enjoy the journey through the street food but in a refined manner. It’s essentially 9 small courses followed by the house specialty main, and dessert.
A classic Mango Lassie ($8.50), which is thick, sweet and creamy. The perfect drink to accompany any of those spicy meals.
The first Khoomcha is the Poochkas, a mini poori which is a thin puffed pastry with mung beans and potato, sitting on top of a cold sauce which you then pour into the pastry before popping it al in your mouth to be hit with a burst of flavour. It’s a fun little dish, and a great change from your traditional starter of papadams.
The pretty little Chookunder Kay Gilavaat is a great contrast to the first course. It’s a beetroot patty spiced up with garam masala and served with a smokey tamarin sauce. It’s earthy and smokey flavour is then topped off with a pomegranate for a pop of sweetness.
The Open Frankies, lamb tacos are another little bit of fun, making a fusion out of classic flavours, with a spiced mince lamb on crispy roti bread.
A must have on the menu is the mushroom and truffle naan, as well as a classic cheese and garlic naan which are both portioned up and served with an assortment of sauces, with everything from mint to tamarin along with some cooling avocado and beetroot. Thankfully they know how good the sauces are and leave them for the rest of the meal to dress up the rest of the courses.
It wouldn’t be Indian without a really good Chaamp Chaarminar, a lamb cutlet tandoor smoked with cardamom, clove and cinnamon. The meat is super tender and easily comes off the bone.
The most memorable dish is the Dakhini Kebab. It’s known as the house specialty entrée and is slowly marinated in secret spices before being slowly oven cooked. It results in this soft and tender piece of chicken tenderloin that tastes as if it has been cooked on the bone, while the spices subtly flavour the chicken. Even if you don’t go for the full banquet, this dish is an absolute must.
The main is an option of two house specialties, the Chicken Biryani or Lobster Curry. Obviously this is an easy choice for us. The Chicken Biryani comes out as an unsuspecting saffron rice with a side of raita. Digging in you find big chunky pieces of tender chicken. Its like someone has finally realised that you always have the rice and meat together so its ready made in one dish, which time for the flavour of the meat to incorporate into the rice. The dish is pretty spicy but that only makes it even better with the yoghurt to cool down before digging in again.
Dessert options are vast at Zaaffran, which is often rare at Indian restaurants, but for a sweet tooth like myself is greatly appreciated. With the Khoomcha Trail comes the Saffron Panna cotta or the Farzi Firangee Kheer. We opt for the Pannacotta, but are super fat and also order the Rose Brulee, which is off the menu but catches my eye. The Panna cotta is not overly sweet and is served with poached apple and praline. It’s a good choice for a light end to a meal. The Rose Brulee is much sweeter, and is a nice creamy texture, served with strawberries and cream to cut through.
Zaaffran changes perceptions of traditional Indian eating, with its new Khoomcha Trail, allowing us to move away from all the curries and enjoy other hawker style meals that often end up forgotten. It’s a great way to experience a different side of Indian food, with a pretty stunning view of Sydney.
TLDR; their banquet option provides a great way to try a great selection of Eats.
Level 2, Harbourside Shopping Centre,
2-10 Darling Drive, Darling Harbour, Sydney, NSW