Enticed by spice

By Geraldine Johns

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Satya's prawn maharaja curry with dal makhani. Photo / Dean Purcell
Satya's prawn maharaja curry with dal makhani. Photo / Dean Purcell

You have gone cold on turkey. You never want to see another variation on ham again. But what do you eat when you bid farewell to festive food - and can't be bothered cooking?

Simple. Any time is ethnic time. We have identified some favourites to gladden your heart, fill your stomach - and not empty your wallet.

There are some familiar faces in this line-up. But familiarity breeds content. And we are happy to introduce a new recruit too.

Jai Jalaram Khaman 570 Sandringham Road, Sandringham, Auckland. Phone (09) 845 5555. Hours 11am to 9pm, Tuesday to Friday; 10am to 10pm Saturday and Sunday. Closed January 5-8.

Happiness for a visiting Gujurati couple lies in all that is spread before them here. "It tastes just like home!" they enthuse before embarking on another round.

You can't get better endorsement than that. Jai Jalaram Khaman is a new-ish entrant on this multi-ethnic strip. It is strictly vegetarian Indian, with dishes from the Gujarati state a specialty.

They do dinner specials, weekend specials and some very fine anytime in-between feeds. Try the puri bhaji (a particularly robust potato curry served with all sorts of bitey bits and pieces). Owner Hitesh Thakkar enquires of our degree of hunger before ordering. We like those attentions. Most mains under $10. Unlicensed. Of very modest surrounds, but has an "A" rating from the Auckland City Council.

KK Malaysia Cuisine. 463A Manukau Rd, Epsom, Auckland. Phone (09) 630 3555. Closed until January 5 (dinner only), then open 11.30am to 3pm and 5.30pm to 9.30pm Wednesday to Sunday; closed Monday. Tuesday dinner only. You'll know if KK is open, because there's most likely a queue out the door. You'll know when it's closed because you'll see grown-ups who have turned up too early (or too late) for trading reduced to tears. KK is a busy Malaysian eatery. Every dish works wonders on your inner being. Special thanks must be had for the butter fish, the chicken curry and anything to do with noodles. Mains range mainly round the late teens (a few hit the 30s but you'll never finish your dish, such is its size). BYO (wine only).

Sri Pinang. 356 K Rd Newton, Auckland City. Phone (09) 358 3886 Closed until January 11, then open 11am to 2.30pm, Tuesday to Friday and 5.30pm to 10pm, Monday to Saturday. You will win yourself the eternal gratitude of everybody you introduce to this, one of the oldest residents on K Rd. And we are eternally grateful to Angie Siew and husband Kun Kaw for their efforts. Sri Pinang this year marks its 20th anniversary. Many aficionados have made many happy returns throughout this admirable tenure. The sell-out dish is the roti curry (chicken and potato curry with roti.) Save some room for the gula melaka too. Sri Pinang's success lies as much in the maternal fuss-ery of the admirable Angie as it does in its life-affirming dishes. BYO wine and beer (corkage $1 per person). Auckland City Council "A" rating.

Banh Mi Bale. 8 Lorne St, Auckland CBD. Phone (09) 377 3288. Closed until January 7, then open 10.30am to 9.30pm weekdays and 11.30am to 9.30pm Saturday. It's fresh, it's full with flavour, it's French-Vietnamese cuisine at its lightest and brightest best. Insist on some fresh spring rolls. Try the Vietnamese sandwiches (they make their own bread in which each is encased). There's delight in every vermicelli dish on offer. Indeed, delight in whatever takes your fancy from the 120-plus options.

You'll like this place so much you'll want to go and live there. Ludicrously cheap. Always great. License pending.

Satya. 17 Great North Rd, Newton, Auckland. Phone (09) 361 5612. Open 11.30am to 2.30pm Monday to Saturday and 5.30pm to 10pm seven nights.

This is a story in three parts - each with a happy ending. Owners Swamy and Padmaja Akuthota have three thriving South Indian restaurants under this name in Auckland (one is just down the road in K Rd; the third is in Sandringham). We have loved for a long time their unpretentious but truly heart-felt South Indian cuisine. Top of the hit parade is the dahi puri: home-made rice, wheat and semolina crackers, topped with boiled chickpeas and potato, then dressed with yoghurt and date and tamarind. Satya is also famous for its dosa, hand-crafted by Padmaja. Everything about this place exudes goodness. Fully licensed and BYO (wine only). Corkage $4 per person. Auckland City council "A" rating.

- Herald on Sunday

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