• Head chef and staff at The Turban on Stock Road in Melville.
It looms over Stock Road like some ancient monument to the Curry Gods – a time when kormas, vindaloos and Bert Newton ruled the Earth.
I’m of course talking about The Turban, which for nearly 40 years has been causing the pensioners in Melville to reach for glasses of milk and Rennies.
According to local rumour, it has sold more naan bread than Today Tonight ran stories about butchers injecting water into meat.
The Turban is located beside Super Bowl Melville – you know the one with the huge bowling pin on the roof (the kind of thing American Pickers would drag out of a barn in Kentucky) – and just up from Woolies. So it’s in a great spot advertising-wise with loads of people passing by.
But to be honest the location has put me off – in a sloping, pot-holed carpark beside a fading bowling alley.
My idea of hell on earth would be to visit IKEA on a bank holiday Monday, then on the same day attend a kid’s birthday party at Super Bowl, followed by another kid’s party at Rolloways. The cumulative affect would be like some kind of middle-class Guantanamo Bay.
But The Turban is a survivor and has always piqued my curiosity, so I finally bit the bullet and ordered some food from there on Wednesday.
The menu was large and impressive, covering a wide variety of curries with lamb, beef, chicken, seafood or vegetable, including Goan fish curry, tandoori chicken and saag beef.
They even had one of my favourite curries on there – the keema – which is served with potatoes, green peas and chopped tomatoes, and is a bit of a rarity in Australia.
There was also a large selection of vegetarian curries including aloo palak, paneer masala and dal basanti. A good effort as some Indian restaurants only have a few token veggie dishes.
I decided to go for the lamb madras ($22.95). I usually go for a prawn dish, but wanted to mix it up a bit.
There was plenty of tender lamb coated in a thick dark sauce teeming with herbs and spices.
I’m not sure lamb is the best type of meat to have with Madras, as chicken probably goes better with the lemon juice and coconut, but it was very tasty and enjoyable.
There was the odd bit of fat, but on the whole the lamb was high quality and the sauce was top notch.
I would have liked it spicier (Madras usually has a decent kick) but next time I’ll ask for a bit more heat.
The mild spice level was a bonus for Bamm-Bamm and Pebbles as they shared a Butter Chicken ($22.95).
Normally my young kids are constantly reaching for their glasses of milk, but this was perfect spice-wise and they ate everything on their plate (normally they leave a few cubes of chook).
Across the table my wife “Special K” was enjoying her Chicken Korma ($22.95).
“It’s extremely creamy and mild with lots of almond flakes,” she said. “The creaminess gives it a slightly different flavour to other kormas I’ve had, but it’s not sickly and very enjoyable.
“The chicken is tender and there’s plenty of it. Very tasty.”
The only let down was the garlic naan ($5.50).
It was too chewy in places and could have done with a stronger garlic punch, but was still pleasant enough.
On a more positive note, the steamed basmati rice ($4.50) was spot on and the cucumber raita ($5) was thick and very refreshing.
So, was my pilgrimage to the ancient Curry Gods a divine encounter?
I have to give it the thumbs up as I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and flavour. It didn’t set the heather on fire, but it was very tasty and well worth a visit.
Next time I might even channel Jesus in The Big Lebowski and go for a frame or two next door.
3/248 Stock Road, Melville
by STEPHEN POLLOCK