• Chefs Dhan Rana and Awatar Negi, manager Gurpeet Singh, and owner Sonu Sharma in Pushkar Indian Cuisine's elegant dining area

    Chefs Dhan Rana and Awatar Negi, manager Gurpeet Singh, and owner Sonu Sharma in Pushkar Indian Cuisine's elegant dining area

Bars & Restaurants

Authentic Indian

Pushkar Indian Cuisine, the newest Indian restaurant in Takapuna is committed to offering “very Indian, very authentic” Indian food. Its extensive menu offers some unexpected twists that will revise your views of what an Indian dining experience can be.

“I’m offering different Indian food,” says owner Sonu Sharma. “Street food – snacks and kebabs, and authentic North Indian curries.”

Pushkar is a town in Rajasthan, “where all the nice spices are from”. Chef Dhan Rana, who has developed the menu, has 27 years’ experience in Indian restaurant kitchens. He grinds and blends all Pushkar’s spices. This, says Sonu, ensures complex layers of flavour in each of the spice mixes, and perfect matches of the right spices with each curry.

All the food at Pushkar is made from scratch, from the spices to the chutneys that accompany the kebabs, and all the curries are gluten free. The food is cooked the traditional way on charcoal in a tandoori oven. This adds extra flavour to the naan breads and kebabs, Sonu explains.

While the food is authentic, Sonu (who also trained as a chef, but plays down his experience) and Dhan are not above trying new flavour combinations. For the lamb kebabs, for example, the cutlets are marinated in bourbon to give them an extra rich flavour. “We’re pushing towards Indian modern fusion,” he says, without losing the authenticity.

“Already we are attracting people from all over – as far as Hobsonville, New Lynn and Henderson. You don’t have to go to the city any more for really good Indian food.”

Sonu says while standby favourites like chicken tikka masala and lamb rogan josh are part of many diners’ regular options, the extensive menu, with about 30% of it unique to Pushkar, tempts returning diners to taste new dishes.

He recommends trying the goat black pepper, with deliciously slow-cooked boneless goat meat. “Chef is from a mountain region where they cook 50 different kinds of goat,” he says, “and he knows how to temper the gamey flavour with poppy seeds and spices.”

He also recommends the South Indian coastal malabari dishes – seafood cooked with special coconut milk and capsicum sauce; try prawn, fish or the seafood trio (scallops, prawns and fish) option. Or there’s chettinad, a black pepper, garlic, ginger and herb based curry. But above all, Sonu recommends the lamb shanks on the bone, cooked for four hours over a low heat to create a curry with perfectly blended flavours.

There are also plenty of vegetable/vegetarian options, and if you have special dietary requirements, just let Pushkar know when you book.

Pushkar is large enough to hold parties and functions, and also offers free lunchtime delivery of takeaway orders to offices in the Takapuna area. If you need any further excuse to try Pushkar, during June and July try the $10 lunchtime special, with meals selected from up to 15 different curries. There’s also an $11.99 evening special on selected dishes on Mondays, Tuesday and Wednesdays.

Pushkar Indian Cuisine, 78 Hurstmere Rd, Takapuna, next to Glengarry Wines at the northern end of Takapuna www.pushkar.net.nz Bookings: 09 486 2950

Open 11.30am-2.30pm; 5pm until late seven days.

By Christine Young

Channel Magazine: Issue 78 July 2017

Eating Out articles by Christine Young