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Now Open: Kahaani Is Melbourne's Newest Modern Indian Restaurant on Lygon Street

On Melbourne's most Italian strip, Kahaani is trying something new: bright and modern Indian cuisine. And there's no cheese naan in sight.
By James Shackell
June 07, 2023
By James Shackell
June 07, 2023

Smack bang in the middle of Melbourne's most Italian suburb, on its most Italian strip, surrounded mostly by Italian restaurants, you'll find something unexpected: a bright, modern Indian restaurant.

The new venue is called Kahaani, which means 'story' in Urdu — quite appropriate when you take a closer look at the menu. It's the brainchild of Head Chef Aseem Sood (formerly of Peter Rowland and Scotland's Crieff Hydro Hotel) and business partner Kunal Bhardwaj (Le Cordon Bleu and Grand Hyatt), who cooked up the idea after COVID torpedoed Bhardwaj's popular St Kilda wine bar.

Kahaani is the sort of venue where you could order butter chicken, but you probably shouldn't order butter chicken. No one's going to raise any eyebrows if you do, but you'd be missing out on some of the treasures that lie deeper into the menu.

Think puffed pani puri balls with tangy tamarind sherbet, barramundi fillets with green spice rub, or moreish spiced potato buns which go down particularly well with a lager. Another highlight is the tandoor-charred cauliflower, served with kasundi and charcoal yogurt.

If you can only order one dish, though, make it the Ghar Ka Ghosht goat curry. It's where Kahaani's 'story' element really shines. This particular dish can be traced all the way back to Kunal's great uncle, who owned a café in Pakistan after the British occupation in 1947, but was forced to flee to Punjab. The recipe has been passed down in Kunal's family ever since, from mother to son, and now sits proudly under the mains section at Kahaani.

Ghar Ka Ghosht translates to 'home-style meat', and it'll leave your Friday night butter chicken in the dust: tender chunks of goat, simmered in an aromatic gravy, spiked with ginger, garlic, cumin, cardamon and garam masala.

Kahaani itself is classic Lygon: a long, narrow dining hall, with funky industrial lighting and exposed brick down one side. The front window opens out onto the street, letting the breeze and Lygon nightlife waft in.

The food implies elevated Indian fare, but the prices are reasonable, and there's a well-stocked wine board that changes each week. If you don't know where to start, just ask for the $45 'Make My Feast' menu and get your waiter to pick a bit of everything.

Food on Lygon St has been hit and miss over the last 15 years, and Kahaani feels like a breath of fresh, East Indian air. "Unreasonably authentic" reads the restaurant tagline. Cheese naan this place is not.

Kahaani is now open at 262 Lygon Street, Carlton, Tuesdays–Saturdays, 5.30pm–9.30pm.

Images: supplied. 

Published on June 07, 2023 by James Shackell
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