The Seven Best Indian Restaurants in Auckland
There's not much in life that a good curry can't fix.
October 19, 2017
Whether you're after modern fusion cuisine in fine dining surrounds or a grubby cheese naan dipped in neon orange butter chicken as you stroll home after a night out, we've got you covered. Saddle up for our picks of the best Indian joints in Auckland. There's not much in life that a good curry can't fix.
FOR AUTHENTIC AND RELIABLE CURRY: PARADISE
Ah, Paradise. The long-standing crowd favourite. Paradise is so wildly popular, that in recent months two new branches have opened in Sandringham, meaning there are now separate restaurants for dine-in, takeaway and buffet. If you go to Paradise, hit up the dine-in branch with a group of people so you can try as many different dishes as you can squeeze in. Stand-outs are the chicken tikka entree, barbecued in their tandoor oven and served on a sizzling hot plate and complete with a minty yoghurt drizzle. If you're a die-hard butter chicken fan please get the Indian butter chicken as it's made to order and infinitely more tasty than their 'normal' butter chicken, and for lamb fans the Balti lamb is full of tender pieces of meat submerged in a thick Balti gravy. The vegetarian curries at Paradise never disappoint, in particular the saag paneer with a unique hint of smokiness and the bagarey baigan, a spicy eggplant curry in a tangy tamarind gravy which is guaranteed to be nothing like you've ever had before. Hands down the winner of the best naan in the curry houses we've visited (get the garlic naan or the butter naan, or even the garlic paneer naan — they're all so good), the Paradise version is slightly yeasty and is made to order in the big, street-side oven, where you can watch the chefs work their magic. Paradise doesn't take bookings unless it's for a large group, so this provides welcome entertainment while you wait for a table.
591 Sandringham Road, Sandringham
FOR A+ VIBE AND DRINKING EATS: SATYA SPICE & CHAI
Satya Spice & Chai on Sandringham Road has an atmosphere like nowhere else that we've experienced in Auckland. Keep an eye out for the tiny doorway as it's easy to miss, and don't be alarmed by the long, dark corridor that you have to walk down to reach the hessian sacks that mark the entrance. Step inside and you're transported to a dark and rustic, coffee sack-lined interior, slightly hazy from shisha smoke, packed with low tables and stools. Bare lightbulbs and plants in terrariums hang from the low ceiling and tea light candles adorn each table, giving this place a seriously cool vibe. The craft beer selection is so extensive there's no menu, instead you're led to the kitchen where there are four or five fridges full of drinks for you to take your pick from. The food consists of street snacks to eat with your fingers or toothpicks, such as vegetarian Manchurian dumplings which are crunchy and chewy on the outside and moist and gingery on the inside. The tandoori prawns and paneer 65 are also good options and perfect for sharing. True to its name, the Masala chai is amazing.
515 Sandringham Road or 271 Karangahape Road
FOR A SPECIAL OCCASION: CASSIA
Cassia serves modern Indian cuisine with a local twist, and, helmed by the legendary Sid Sahrawat from Sidart, it's substantially different to any Indian you may have tried before. The restaurant has taken out the supreme prize at Metro's Restaurant of the Year Awards for two years running. Highlights of the simple yet considered menu include melt-in-your-mouth soft shell crab served with radish and coconut and fresh, perfectly seasoned Bengali-style fish with kale and mustard seeds. Their more conventional dishes are amazing as well, and come with some inspired twists, like the Delhi duck — the lychee and kumara add a welcome sweetness. With silky-smooth service, an awesome cocktail list and business lunches for just $39, Cassia is a must-visit.
5 Fort Lane, Auckland CBD
FOR CHEAP EATS: VENKY'S
Unlike Satya Spice & Chai, Venky's South Indian Cuisine is not somewhere you go for the atmosphere. However, for truly authentic (and outrageously cheap) Southern Indian food, Venky's is the place. With only a handful of tables, occasionally you will have to wait, and service is pretty slow, but it's the food you come here for. Load up on street food snacks such as the vada (you get two donut-shaped vada for $4) — crispy, deep fried lentil batter that comes served with coconut chutney, ginger chutney and sambar for dipping. The Bangalore masala dosa ($6) is also excellent and comes stuffed with tasty onion and potato curry. Make sure the Venky's special combo meal is part of your order — we usually go for the vegetarian meal which comes with a whole arrangement of curries, chutneys, roti and something sweet to finish; usually a gulab jamun which is a very sweet, fragrant milk-solid-based South Asian sweet. The Venky's combo meals are big, traditional thali and for only $8 for the vegetarian or $9 for the non-veg version you'll be hard pressed to find one of better value in Auckland.
535 Sandringham Road, Sandringham
FOR SOMETHING MODERN: 1947 EATERY
The newest of the curry joints, 1947 has only been around for a few months. The location isn't the best, however once you're inside the dimly lit, bustling space, you'll almost forget you're in Auckland. 1947 was named after the year that India gained independence and the restaurant's ideology is the freedom of taste, designed to take you back to that special year. The menu changes every three months so as not to become stale, and is printed on the back of the first newspaper to be sold in an independent India. The cocktail menu gets regular updates too, and is full of interesting and exciting versions of the standard tipples — such as the Bombay Mule with pepper-infused vodka, secret spice and house-made lemon soda. Food-wise, we recommend taking a squiz at the menu before you get there, because everything looks so damn good there's serious risk of panic ordering if you don't turn up prepared. The street samosa chaat consists of a smashed up samosa, topped with mint yoghurt, tamarind chutney, onion and crunchy noodles. The keema pav is another popular street snack, consisting of lamb mince that would have rivalled the mince in any award-winning meat pie, paired with warm, fluffy bread rolls. The chicken tikka, cooked in a coal tandoor, is a must-try — it's marinated in yoghurt, tandoori spices and lemon and comes with a mint sauce. We were surprised that our favourite curry was the daal makhani; it's simmered for 24 hours to make it rich and deeply flavoured and comes topped with a knob of butter to make it silky smooth.
60 Federal Street, CBD
FOR YOUR TRADITIONAL CURRY AND NAAN: TIFFIN
Tiffin is an old Kingsland favourite; a consistently humming spot that's been popular with locals for about eight years now. It's BYO and corkage is pretty cheap ($3.50) which is always a good start. The bhel puri comes as a huge serving with small chunks of tomato and cucumber which added freshness to the starter. For curries, we suggest the palak paneer and beef madras. The garlic naan comes as a very close second to the amazing naan at Paradise — but be warned that you'll leave Tiffin with serious garlic breath.
598 New North Road, Kingsland
FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT: IVILLAGE
Even though I've worked near iVillage for years, it's one of those places that just never seems to be brought up in conversation. Maybe it's the location, hidden away in Victoria Park Market, or it could be something to do with the branding that belongs in the early 2000s. Either way, if you're in the area it's worth checking out. Go for the mini poori — they are tiny versions of the popular street snack. The crunchy, hollow cases are filled with potato and lentils and come perched on top of shot glasses of minty coriander water and a shot glass of chilli sauce, designed for you to choose how much of each condiment you'd like. The Indo-Chinese iBullets are another vegetarian entree, a secret recipe that comes in the form of long, dark brown, skinny logs. They're crunchy, they're tasty, and they come with a good dipping sauce, so even though we're not entirely sure what they are, you should give them a go. The prawn malabari is among the best we've had, packed with prawns, rich and thick with coconut. One of the more unusual curries on the menu is the stuffed capsicum — it's charred and crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle, stuffed with a potato curry and sits in a slightly sweet gravy.
210-218 Victoria Street West
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In my opinion, iVillage is the best in Auckland considering its perfect blend of high quality and authentic Indian food (I am from India), and very warm Indian decor. I would without any hesitation say it's the best out of the lot.