Haldi Indian Restaurant in Moonee Ponds
Haldi Indian restaurant in trendy Puckle Street in Moonee Ponds is serving up some of the best Indian food in Melbourne. Creamy spicy fragrant curries are made from scratch. Sauces are authentic and diverse, and are not mixed together from one dish to another (like many Indian restaurants). In fact each dish is created from scratch in its own pan. Thus the dishes are vibrant, fresh and authentic. Our experience at Haldi Indian restaurant was sensory and joyous, with big flavours and first class presentation of dishes. Haldi is several steps up from "a good honest local Indian restaurant" and shows a touch of class while still being excellent value.
Papadum entree featuring Lentil crisps and chutney dips, enjoyed with Kingfisher beer was a great start.
Located within the hustle and bustle of Puckle Street, Haldi serves up hearty Indian dishes, packed with flavour, cooked in traditional methods, but served with modern flair. The attention to preserve traditional flavours is paramount. With a modern twist on some dishes, Raj tells us they are passionate to cover the bases on traditional flavours first. Always evolving, Raj the General Manager tells us Haldi makes changes to the menu every four months.
Vibrant big flavour dishes.
Haldi is Hindi for turmeric; hailed as a wonder spice in Indian cooking. The vibrant gold of turmeric and and the bright colours of the dishes at Haldi are something to behold, achieved naturally without artificial substances.
The kitchen is headed up head chef, Atar Singh, who has previously trained with master chefs in India, including the one of the masterminds behind butter chicken (Sanjeev Kapoor). He then headed to Japan where he was a TV Chef for five years, but more recently he was head chef at Atta Restaurant in Albert Park.
Modern decor and engaging with open kitchen.
Haldi has launched a new 'Winter Warmers' special: 3 x entrees, 3 x curries with rice, naan and raita, plus dessert for $55 per person. We think this is great value.
The inspiration for the dishes we experienced comes from across India not one particular region.
Raj displays his years of experience engaging the customers.
Like India itself (which I have visited many times) Haldi delivers a sensory experience to the diner as all your 5 senses are engaged. Taste the big flavour dishes, be impressed by the vibrant colours, mop up curries with fluffy Naan, and be taken in by the aromas. And hear action from the open kitchen and Raj speaking about the dishes and engaging his customers, with first class service.
It's claimed the menu is not large for an Indian restaurant but it's large enough and we love the focus on their signature dishes and diverse offerings. The fact that each dish is prepared when it is ordered is a major selling point in authenticity.
Paneer Nuggets featuring a Golden paneer sandwich complete with Tokyo onion rings, captures the imagination and the taste buds. Served with chana and tomato sauce it is a fun and playful dish with modern interpretation but all the flavours of paneer are there. A great start to our meal.
We also enjoyed Papadum featuring Lentil crisps and dips with Vindaloo chutney, Beetroot chutney and Mint chutney. Note the vibrant colours. This was achieved without anything artificial. Tangy flavours were excellent.
Tawa Murgh hit the high notes featuring Tawa grilled chicken breast with herb flavour, stuffed mince lamb, roasted to perfection. This is a generous portion for an entree.
Wine list is top notch.
Sharabi Raan is a delightful smoky dish served with a touch of theatre, with Raj removing a glass cloche with release of smoke. Lamb marinated with old monk and spices is smoked with herbs. This is a dish I've never experienced and I found it comforting and rewarding to indulge in delicious tender smoky spicy lamb, especially in winter.
Tender smoky spicy lamb.
Curries are a specialty at Haldi, and we felt there was generous amount of meat in the meat based curries but also the sauces were a standout. Sauces are where the real skill lies and these were first class.
Butter Chicken is often a dish from which we gauge an Indian restaurant. Haldi serves up a vibrant rich creamy Butter Chicken with right amount of spice (butter chicken should never have excessive heat) as one of the best in Melbourne.
Beef Vindaloo option for those who like it hot, also hit the mark with diced beef in garlic wine marinade and dried chilli peppers. Check out the vibrant colour!
The curries were enjoyed (and mopped up) with fabulous Garlic Naan and Rice.
A highlight was the "Chef Special" Fish Curry featuring Rockling, with perfectly cooked fish in a golden spicy sauce. It's not every day I would choose a fish curry but this was outstanding.
Some of the best Indian dishes in Melbourne.
The wine list here is excellent ; it's not huge but carefully selected with top notch wines that I recognised, at reasonable prices. The wine list has been crafted by expert sommeliers to match the food. We enjoyed a bottle of McLaren Vale's finest, the Mitolo Angela 2016 McLaren Vale Shiraz which as a medium to full-bodied shiraz was a great match for our spicy dishes.
Dessert also hit the high notes with a fusion Ras Malai, inspired by the Bengal region of India it features rich cheesecake with a deconstructed Oreo crust and pistachio kulfi.
We also experienced a dessert described a carrot pudding, the Gajar Ka Hawla which was bright orange and had a wonderful sweetness and touch of spice.
There's also a BYO option of $10 corkage.
Vegetarian options are also available, with Haldi recognising the importance of vegetables in India cuisine.
Haldi is a local gem and hero in Moonee Ponds, but also worth the drive across Melbourne. Open six days a week. Highly recommended.