Walk past Tandoori Hut at almost any reasonable dinner hour and you’ll see tables of Enmore locals with butter chicken and mango lassies. Come past between 9pm and midnight and you’ll see taxi drivers chowing down on tandoori fish, bitter melon curry, slow-cooked lamb and bone-marrow stews.
Raphael Barkai, co-owner and chef, opened Tandoori Hut in 1995 with his brother. The taxi drivers come for Tandoori Hut’s special menu. While the regular menu (and the restaurant itself) is barely distinguishable from most Indian takeaway joints, the special menu is made up of traditional Pakistani food and local specialities from Barkai’s hometown, Lahore. It’s not advertised anywhere, it’s just written in Biro on the back of an order docket if you ask for it.
In the past it has included an intense lamb curry that’s slow cooked and then flash fried; lamb-brain masala; and a spicy Lahore curry with capsicum and haleem, a stew made with barley, wheat, lentils and meat.
The tandoori is one of the house specialities. Barkai marinates chicken and fish in a thick paste of yoghurt, ginger, garlic and a blend of homemade garam masala. The meat’s placed on skewers and plunged into the centre of the charcoal-fired oven. Next to the meat skewers, lining the walls of the oven, is the restaurant’s homemade roti and naan breads.