Spice Hop beer + curry matching @ Abhi’s

During my travels, I lived and worked in English pub restaurants for a couple of years and observed, beer as the preferred English beverage to match with a curry. Back in Australia I wanted to find out more about how to match our local boutique beers and some international boutique beers with curry, particularly given the fantastic new local boutique beers that are available.

Mark Chipperfield, Michael Capaldo of Schwartz Brewery and Chef Kumar Mahadevan of Abhi’s collaborated to design a wonderful beer matched Indian menu that resulted in a divine partnership between the two, also known as Spice and Hop. The Spice and Hop night was over two nights this week at Kumar’s two restaurants, on June 6 at Aki’s in Wooloomooloo, and June 7 and Abhi’s in North Strathfield.

When we arrived at Abhi’s on the Tuesday night and were invited upstairs to start the night off with a “beer cocktail” made from Lindemans Apple Beer, Whiskey, Tequila, a ginger mix and mint. These were absolutely wonderful and fresh and highlighed the spices of the canapes, so much so that many people were holding multiple glasses in their hands in case they ran out.

Circulating the room was the Chicken 65, which was hot spicy chicken with ginger, garlic, chilli and garnish of crispy onions and curry leaves served with burrani raita with boondi. Definitely spicy and very delicious.

Next to come was the Lamb Boti Kebab, which was skewered lamb with fennel powder, green cardamon, yoghurt, turmeric and crushed green chillies served with mint & coriander chutney. Mouthwateringly juicy, and a definite crowd favourite.

The Dal Vada, which were Bengal gram lentil vada’s, mixed with ginger, onion, green chilli and fennel seeds. Perfect, and crisp, served with a spiced tomato chutney that was well spiced and very moreish.

The final canape Bhindi Jaipuri, crispy wok fried okra with cumin and besan (chick pea flour), was my absolute favourite – yum. This dish was really lovely and I would have been quite happy snacking on these for the rest of the night. When the canapes finished, we made our way through to the function room to start the matched courses. After everyone was seated Mark Chipperfield talked us through the menu and introdced us to our first course of the evening, Mutta Roti.

The final canape Bhindi Jaipuri, crispy wok fried okra with cumin and besan (chick pea flour), was my absolute favourite – yum. This dish was really lovely and I would have been quite happy snacking on these for the rest of the night. When the canapes finished, we made our way through to the function room to start the matched courses. After everyone was seated Mark Chipperfield talked us through the menu and introdced us to our first course of the evening, Mutta Roti.

The first dish, Mutta Roti, is a south Indian favourite of a lightly spiced omelette, which is then rolled in a wholemeal roti. This was paired with a low-carb Icelandic beer the Viking Pilsner, which was a great match as the Viking provided a clean, crisp flavour that didn’t overwhelm the spices from the egg.

The next dish to come out was the Flathead Pakora, made from fresh flathead fillets in a chickpea batter with pomegranate and dry mango dust and tamarind chutney. The fish was lovely and moist, while the tamarind chutney and the pomegranate and dried mango dust added an extra dimension to the dish providing spice, tang and made my taste buds come alive.

This was paired with the White Rabbit Dark Ale, from Victoria, which was probably one of my favourite beers of the night.

Next we tasted the Redoak Organic Pale Ale which acted as our palate cleanser between courses before moving onto the mains. The Redoak Organic Pale Ale (a beer which I have enjoyed many times before) was really delicious with a slight maltiness adding another layer of flavour.

The first of the main courses was Goat Sukka Masala, a slow cooked goat curry with tomatoes, ginger, mace and black cardamom served with mini Parathas. This was my favourite dish of the night. The goat itself was amazingly cooked, being soft and tender, and was served with enough sauce to ensure it could be mopped up with the mini Parathas which were buttery and sweet.

Adnams Southwold Bitter, from England, was the pairing for this dish. The bitter had a strong hoppy flavour, with undertones of plum, which complimented the beautiful goat.

The second main course, a favourite of others at the table, and also incredibly delicious, was the Wagyu Beef Ulathu made from prime Wagyu beef tossed with black chick peas, fennel, mustard seeds and coconut flakes and served with kerrai porrial, potato karakari and ghee rice.

Yes, the Wagyu was incredibly moist and almost melted in your mouth, while the spices developed on my tongue in waves adding multiple dimensions to the dish. The potato karakari was mild comparatively and providing a cooling effect from the heat of the Wagyu. The dark toasted malt flavours of the Schwartz Dark Lager, not unlike the flavour of roasted coffee, was a beautiful extra layer to this dish and a perfect accompanient to the beef. The Schwartz brewery, based in Sydney, will be on my growing list of places to visit in the near future as well.

Our final course, dessert, was a Chocolate Naan served with strawberries and vanilla ice cream. Served with the Chimay Blue from Belgium, this was a fantastic pairing, and probably my favourite pairing of the night. The naan, similiar to having a pancake, was rolled and filled with a rich chocolate sauce mixed with strawberries that lightened the dish. These flavours were contributed to by the sweetness and fruitness of the Chimay. The perfect end to a marvellous evening.

After dessert, Mark Chipperfield hosted a trivia contest, with prizes of cases of the ales which were tasted tonight, or from the same brewery. There were a few different cases to give away, and I was lucky that my partner was able to guess a question right which allowed us to take home a case of White Rabbit to enjoy later.

Abhi’s Restaurant
163 Concord Road, North Strathfield NSW 2137 Australia
+61 2 9743 3061

Schwartz Brewery
40/44 Wentworth Avenue, Sydney NSW 2000 Australia
+6 12 8262 8877

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Comments for this article

2 Responses to “Spice Hop beer + curry matching @ Abhi’s”

  1. Enzo says:
    June 11, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Fantastic work Natalie…. Loved the article on this amazing combination of beer with Indian cuisine

  2. Simon Food Favourites says:
    June 12, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    those crispy wok fried okra with cumin and besan do look very interesting and delicious. looks like it must have been very dark wherever you were eating though?

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