Babu Ji Amazing Indian Restaurant for Opportunity International
The World Loves Melbourne was invited to Babu Ji, for a special evening to hear about Opportunity International, a charity that helps people in third world countries through micro lending. Check out our Best Indian Restaurants in Melbourne. Also check out our Best Restaurants in Melbourne.
Babu Ji was the perfect location for "Food for Thought", being the best Indian restaurant in Melbourne, as well as India being a major nation where Opportunity International operates. Micro loans in Third World countries, with astonishing 98% payback rates (surely higher than in Melbourne). Donations to Opportunity International help with the funds pool. Andy Philp from Opportunity International told us they were assisting 3 million families in Asia, 2.2 million in India, and a huge impact in South America and Africa. Some 94% of loans go to women.
Mani Babuji was on hand to bless us with his generous hospitality and get behind this amazing cause. Mani himself came from humble beginnings in small Indian village, grew up on a farm and had a determination to never give up. Mani spoke about giving an opportunity to those who are not privileged. His passion is also to create a top notch restaurant where people can smile after a good meal (we were this night!). Mani has plans for a Food Truck, by which he intends to help the homeless as part of the Food Trucks' operation.
Mani Babuji (above) spoke passionately and the menu for this occasion was extraordinary, an overabundance of superb Indian food. The menu at Babu Ji represents tastes from all over India, and the menu changes every couple of months.
Babu Ji brings a modern twist but also honours Indian tradition. Dishes comes not just from one area, but the north and south are both represented. Our dinner began with a medley of Indian street food including this Pani Puri; fried puff pastry balls filled with mashed potatoes and chick peas. Pour in the broth for a tangy, spicy, sweet delight.
Babu Ji also impressed with the Achari Fish Tikka; Tandoor cooked Atlantic Salmon with ginger, pickle and punch phoron. The World Loves Melbourne loved this Atlantic Salmon treated in the tandoor tradition, honouring the salmon and bringing tandoor nuances.
Andrew Philp the Director of Philanthropy at Opportunity International was a superb host and engaged us with stories of hope from the "field". A loan of $70 goes a long way; for example seeds to plant a vegetable farm.
Paul from leading website The City Lane was bold in his efforts to photograph our feast; we can't wait to see his photographs!
Babu Ji served us an incredible range of dishes, with the Bharwa Mushroom featuring a stuffed mushroom with spinach and green corn kernels. A simple street dish, but so delicious.
Babu Ji is a modern Indian restaurant with simple but elegant fit out. We enjoyed the custom of the beer fridge; select your beer from the huge range of beers in the fridge, rather than just read it off a menu...
Tandoori chicken is always a favourite, but this was a more subtle use of Tandoor spices than we had experienced, with the juicy chicken cooked perfectly. This is a Babu Ji specialty of marinated spiced free range chicken charred in the Tandoor.
Babu Ji impressed with Batata Vada; Mumbai street food of Spiced lentil and potato parcels topped with fresh radish, mint and tamarind.
By now we were in a place of satiation, and the mains hadn't even arrived. Gilafi Kebabs were Charcoaled lamb from Kyenton served on rosemary skewers, with chutney.
A highlight was the Tandoori Basil Prawn; Tandoori roasted prawns marinated in a hung yoghurt with lemon grass, lime and basil.
Babu Ji enthralled with the Butter Chicken main, Free range chicken cooked with tomato, cardamom and fenugreek. Behind the Butter Chicken (above) was a superb Fish Curry; Blue Grenadier turmeric, mustard seed and coconut milk curry - a must try for the adventurous!
We also enjoyed top notch Raita with our mains; Crisp cucumber, carrot and yoghurt salad.
Lasooni Palak Paneer featured Spinach with homemade cheese cubes, fresh garlic, mustard leaves and fenugreek.
Naan was delicious, featuring Garlic and chive, Sesame and onion seed, and Plain or Wholegrain flavours. Rice was Premium aged basamati sella rice.
House Dal was amazing; Black lentils, ginger, garlic and garam masala slow cooked for 12 hours!
Dessert was playful, with seriously compelling flavours - Kulfi Indian ice cream.
This was a memorable evening at Babu Ji, with a compelling cause. Highly recommended.