Aashiana is an Indian restaurant in Balwyn East. I meet KB1 and KB2 there for a pre-Christmas catch-up. We had originally decided to try somewhere in Box Hill, and from an initial list of suggestions garnered from Urbanspoon selected this one. Good thing I looked at the map before I left home, as it is not in Box Hill at all! Close, but not quite.
It is a decent sized place and while in the pic below it might look empty, it was taken early in the evening and throughout the two hours we were there it filled up and many of the tables were turned over a couple of times, and there was always take-away bags sitting on the front counter waiting to be picked up.
We had decided to go to Aashiana based on their vegetarian banquet, it looked fantastic and was only $25 per person. We didn’t even look at the menus, just ordered the banquet.
Mint yogurt and chutney was already on the table, and pappadums were brought out. To tell the truth I was there first and found it very hard to not eat all the pappadums before the others arrived!
Aashiana allows BYO wine, for a corkage of $1.50 per person. We had a bottle of white and a bottle of red.
First up on the banquet menu was the entreés:
* Samosa - Chef’s homemade pastry, filled with spiced potatoes and green peas.
* Pakora – Tasty spinach dipped in chickpea batter and fried
* Paneer Tikka – Cottage cheese marinated with special spices and coked in the Tandoor oven and served on a sizzler.
Off to a great start, we loved them all.
Our mains consisted of:
* Saag panner – Vegetarian’s delight – golden fried homemade cottage cheese in a smooth saffron flavoured spinach puree, delicately finished with fresh herbs.
* Malai kofte – cheese and potato balls, mixed with dried fruits and nuts, simmered in a light almond flavoured sauce.
* Mixed vegetable curry – fresh mixed seasonal vegtables tantalisingly seasoned with fresh herbs and spices. I was very impressed with the amount of different veggies in this curry.
We also got rice, naan and raita.
And we asked for more mint yoghurt and chutney as we had finished the original servings.
If you think that looks like a lot of food you are right, we were completely stuffed and couldn’t finish the mains. And there was still dessert to come, mango ice cream.
It was very strong in mango flavour and a little rubbery, but we all ate it, and it was a refreshing way to finish the meal.
I haven’t included individual comments for each dish, as basically we thought it was all brilliant, we loved it. And it was a total bargain for only $25 each.
KB2 did say it was, as far as she can remember, the best Indian she has had, and she forgot about ordering a mango lassi as the food was distractingly good!
KB1 has high standards when it comes to Indian food as she has spent the last few years living in London, where they love their Indian, so while she said it wasn’t the best Indian food she has ever had (because she’s had some amazing Indian food), it was definitely the best Indian banquet she has had.
This was due to it including all of her favourite things of saag paneer, garlic naan and pakoras (which usually never happens in a banquet). She did think the pappadams didn’t taste that fresh and she said in the UK they usually give you four or five different chutneys and pickles and they are better than the ones we got.
The service was good overall, though we did have to ask for water whenever we run out, and one waiter did clear away mine and KB1’s ice cream bowls before KB2 had finished hers, and he leant over KB2 to get KB1’s bowl.