After more than a decade running Beechworth Indian Restaurant, husband-and-wife Shabbir Walajahi and Asra Baig have brought their home-style cooking to the big smoke.

The couple – with their daughter Wajiha Hussain, son Sarwar Walajahi and his wife Nida Khan – has opened a spacious two-storey venue on Queens Parade in Fitzroy North. Magan is a great spot for groups of friends and family to share the kind of meal that feels like more than just food.

“Magan means ‘to be immersed in happiness’, or to be ‘drowned in happiness’,” says Sarwar. “That’s how my kids feel when they eat my food,” adds Baig.

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The new restaurant continues the family’s long-standing style of cooking and focuses on Hyderabadi dishes. “We are doing a traditional way of cooking and traditional way of drinks. Not fusion or something like that. Everything is traditional; very old school,” Baig tells Broadsheet.

“The blend of spices, the tea and everything is different in Hyderabad, so we’ll continue that tradition. Especially with the pickles,” says Shabbir.

Shabbir and Baig can usually be found in the kitchen preparing Hyderabadi dishes including dum biryani (biryani made by layering par-cooked rice, marinated protein and spices, which are then sealed in a pot and cooked) and dum ka chicken (creamy chicken curry). Both dishes involve long, slow cooking. The succinct menu also includes chicken tikka made in a tandoori oven and butter chicken, which Baig says “Is the favourite for all time for everyone, even at home.”

There are daily specials and plans for seasonal menu changes. In winter, Magan will introduce marag (spicy mutton soup sweetened with dried fruits and thickened here with pistachios), which Baig says is good for your bones on colder days.

“You’re not eating food just to taste it. The taste is important, but your health is also more important. We consider both the things,” she says.

This philosophy is obvious in the drinks, which are normally made in homes in Hyderabad. The lassi with rooh afza (a rose-like herbal syrup) and thandai (an almond-milk drink) cools down the body and is supposed to help with stress.

The interior nods to the family’s Hyderabad hometown. Places and historical monuments from the city are in the artwork on the walls and the woodblock-printing-inspired design on the menu.

In India, the family’s everyday cooking was done in bulk to feed their large joint family, mosque community and neighbours. In Beechworth they provided meals for vulnerable people during periods of crisis and invited the local community for an annual free feed for the Holi festival – a tradition they’re excited to bring to Magan.

“We want people to meet us, talk to us,” says Baig.

Magan
201 Queens Parade, Fitzroy North
9008 4541

Hours:
Mon, Wed to Fri 5pm–9.30pm
Sat & Sun 5pm–10pm

magan.melbourne