A “cult classic” dish at Hutt Street restaurant Ragi’s Spicery will be the basis of a new eatery opening later this month. “Naanchos”, invented by owner Ragini Dey (the acclaimed former head chef of The Spice Kitchen in Leabrook), is a spin on the traditional curry-and-naan combination found on most Indian restaurant menus.
Dey’s version features crispy fried naan bread served with spiced meat or vegetables topped with tomato and fenugreek sauce and “torched” cheese. “We introduced [naanchos] four years ago at OzAsia Festival. Since then, we’ve taken it to lots of events – the Fringe, Gluttony, Tasting Australia – and people have really taken it on board,” says Dey. “People were asking, ‘Why can’t we have this in a separate restaurant? Why do we have to wait for the Fringe to have it?’”
Cue Naancho Naancho Man. Soon to open just two doors down from Dey’s existing restaurant, bar and spice shop, the new eatery will be more casual, with an emphasis on quick dishes. “Naancho” options will extend beyond the current offering: expect clay-cooked chicken tikka; braised lentils and spinach; spicy beef and coconut; and a sweet alternative stacked with dark chocolate, strawberries and icing sugar. Fermented rice and lentil “pams” (from uttapam, a dosa-like dish from South India) will also be on the menu – they’re packed with sweet and sour duck or charred tumeric prawns. And there will be soft roti tacos and “naanurgers” stuffed with chicken tikka or slow-cooked potato and veggies.
Dey says the space has been described as a “New York alleyway”; it has concrete floors, red-brick walls and graffiti. Dey designed it with the Ragi’s Spicery team, and the space incorporates recycled materials from event stalls. Food will be cooked in front of customers’ eyes behind a long teppanyaki table.
Naancho Naancho Man opens on May 16 at 3/210 Hutt Street.