THE CLOVE, Beeliar
by JENNY D’ANGER:
I CHOSE the string hopper biriyani for the name—and because it was in the Sri Lankan section of The Clove’s menu.
Are Indian and Sri Lankan food the same? “Sort of” foodie Naomi Tomky writes in An Introduction to Sri Lankan Food.
The island’s cuisine tends to be more heavily spiced and its curries thinner. Coconut grows abundantly and does feature, but non-native ingredients have become mainstays, thanks to trade plied over hundreds of years.
Rice flour pancakes are called hoppers and string hoppers are tiny almost hair-like noodles, which reminded me of my childhood favourite—chicken noodle soup. But that’s the the only comparison. These were freshly made in-house and the dish was flavoured with a delectable mix of spices.
Sipping a mango lassi ($5), D’Angerous Dave’s eyes lit up and he insisted everyone try a sip—and we all concurred it was in the top five of those we’d had elsewhere.
My dinner companions and I shared a very generous entree of vegetable pakora and onion bajiya ($5.90), both of which were “sort of” like those eaten at Indian restaurants, but deliciously different.
I especially enjoyed the onion fritters, the chickpea flour a pleasant nutty contrast to the fleshy sweetness of the chunks of onion.
Then the mains started arriving and pretty soon the table was groaning under a chicken korma ($17), vegetable korma ($14), devilled fish ($20), garlic naan ($4) and rice ($3.50).
The fish is a Sri Lankan dish, and from first bite we could see where it got its name, the thin, spicy-tomato sauce packing a very fiery punch. But it was so good we ploughed on, despite burning lips.
The chicken korma, in a yoghurt and cashew sauce, got the thumbs up for its tenderness and great flavour. As did the vegetarian version.
Switching to our separate dessert stomachs we threw caution to the wind and ordered one of everything—well alright, there are only three to choose from, but they were all great ($5). I can’t go past a good gulab jamun and these were good, the kheer (rice pudding) made us wonder how British boarding schools can get it so wrong, and the pistachio kulfi was creamy and delicately flavoured.
The Clove Indian Sri Lankan Restaurant
28 Lakefront Ave, Beeliar
Phone 6498 9945
open Tue–Sun 11am–2pm, 5–930pm | BYO