Very cheap eats: Punjab Cafe – Kitsches and Spices

There is a little strip of Indian haven just across from Clayton railway station. It is not the classiest of joints but the food is damn tasty. And cheap. VERY cheap.And, baby, Punjab Cafe even has glamour. Or perhaps I mistook their recently refurbished (and cleaned) dining room with brand spanking new tables (still laminex, but shiny and new), brand new bright pink plastic roses and 600w bright chandelier for glamour, who knows?

At first glance, Punjab Cafe has everything you’d expect from your suburban Indian restaurant: you have your meat curries, choices of tandoori meats and breads, deep fried spicy bits and bobs and vegetables. But as soon as you order they will ask ‘would you like it mild, medium or hot?’ In which case your bravado kicks in and you reply, ‘hot please.’ They will raise one eye brow and say, ‘it’s Indian hot, yeah?’Yep. Their curries can be hot. And so are the briyani. But they are utterly, addictively delicious. I fell in love with their chicken tikka biryani. It may not be the most authentic dish in the world and let’s face it, they need somewhere to stash their leftover chicken tikka but it’s delicious. We also love their lamb curry and mushroom jalfrezi. My chilli-intolerant Russian friend was rathar taken with their butter chicken too.

If you are on a REALLY low budget (or super hungry), go for the all-day thali. A massive tray of curries of choice ($8.50 – $12.50 depending on choice of curries), rice, poppadum, raita and naan will ensure that you will be spiced out towards the end.Drinks include ‘help-your-water’, cans of soft drinks (including Indian varieties) and lassi. No license.And if you’re still hungry after all that, pop into one of the shops nearby to choose from an array of ridiculously coloured, ridiculously sweet and ridiculous milky (milk powder, yay) Indian sweets.

Punjab Cafe

143 Carinish Rd. Clayton VIC 3168(03) 9544 4218

Mains from $8 No license.