Babu Ji: an Indian taste explosion
Babu Ji has just become one of my dining highlights so far for 2014. In case you have missed it, this is the newest Indian restaurant from Jennifer and Jessi Singh, who first showed Kyneton how to do Indian well with Dhaba at the Mill, before moving to Fitzroy North and opening Horn Please. Babu Ji has moved into a section of The George in St Kilda and is showing south-siders just how delicious Indian food can be.
The decor features whitewashed walls with cursive black Hindu scripture snaking up the walls and classic Brentwood cafe chairs. Striking portraits of Indian characters add to the atmosphere, as does the projector screen in the corner playing scenes from classic Bollywood films.
While they do not take bookings, Babu Ji was not busy on the evening we visited, probably due to many people heading away for Easter so we were quickly shown to our table. The menu is composed of smaller 'street food' bites and larger curries with everything on the menu perfect for sharing. And of course, it wouldn't be an Indian restaurant without basmati rice and naan.
We begin our journey with a local Indian Kingfisher beer, which for a rare beer drinker is refreshing and a perfect match to the flavoursome cuisine before us. We start with the Gol Gappa, which can only be described as a 'party in your mouth'. According to the menu these are a 'most favourite Indian street snack' and we quickly discover why. Biting down on the delicate pappadum shell my mouth fills with scrumptious flavours of yoghurt, tamarind and coriander among others. All of my senses are well and truly consumed.
Next up is the Samosa plate, which is presented with two large golden triangular Samosas drizzled with pomegranate and green mango powder and tangy chutney. The samosas are extremely moreish, chock full with spicy potato and peas. Delicious!
Moving on to the larger curries we elect to try the butter chicken and the smoky 'Goat Dhungar' curry. The butter chicken is possibly one of the best I have had...rich, creamy and filled with the sweetness of tomatoes and fenugreek. The goat curry is more complex, richer still with a real kick of spice from the fresh chillies. The basmati rice and fresh-baked naan provide the perfect vehicle to mop up the delicious sauces.
With bellies bursting we rug up and head out to face the elements. I have not had the fortune to visit India, but I am sure if I did this is the sort of food I would experience. As I board my tram home my taste buds are still zinging...
If you dine anywhere this year make your first stop Babu Ji, I promise you will not be disappointed. I cannot wait to head back again and sample more from this talented duo.
The George Building
4-6 Grey Street
St Kilda VIC 3182
(03) 9534 2447
Open Sunday-Tuesday 5-9pm and Thursday-Saturday 5-10pm
Lunch Friday-Sunday 12-3pm