Food and Drink


Masala Meanders

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For once I was blind, and now I see curry!

It seems as though each sunset in Melbourne brings the birth of a new walking tour. Having recently attended the Walk to Art Tour and now the Masala Meanders Indian food tour, I can see why. Taking a tour opens your eyes to the city you thought you knew. I felt like part of an Ancient Grecian scholar troupe wandering the streets in robes, discovering, commenting on and, most importantly, tasting things.

Once we assembled at Fed Square introductions were made by Himanshi Munshaw-Luhar, our friendly and informative guide. With a life-long passion for food and travel, Himanshi now finds herself running these tours as well as Indian cooking demonstrations, and she also happens to be the director of Beacon Holidays; an impressive CV.

Our first stop was morning tea at Flora Indian Restaurant & Cafe – specialising in Southern Indian cuisine. For me Flora is one of those ever-seen but never-visited eateries, but is a local institution among the nearby university students drawn to the lunch specials. As we sipped our spiced masala tea and marvelled over our Idli Sambar, we not only learned how to make both, but were treated to some fascinating history about Indian cuisine in general. The things I could tell you about pepper!

Our second stop was Curry Corner – Melbourne’s oldest spice store. This calm little oasis in the heart of the city was packed to the rafters with colourful boxes, packets and jars. Once I accepted that the store was not Inceptioned into my head, and that it had actually always existed in the heart of the CBD, I could enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and browse the fairness creams.

At the peak of our excitement, and hunger, we ambled into Red Pepper for a bottomless three-course lunch. The menu represented Northern India with familiar dishes such as Paneer Makhan Masala, Goat Curry, Chicken Saag, and of course piles of rice and naan. We were treated to a pre-meal traditional lassi  (salty and digestive), and a post-meal Gulab Jamun dessert rich with rose water and sugar syrup. This was a nice time to swap stories and cooking tips, and impress/concern one another with how much food we could eat.

The $75 tour cost includes morning tea, an education and a bottomless lunch. Himanshi also runs annual culinary tours overseas which see you picking fresh spices and stovetop cooking on spice farms! While I learned many interesting things on the tour, I think the one thing that will stick is never to eat a bottomless banquet then run down the Parliament escalators for a train.

Himanshi runs Masala Meanders in Melbourne and Dandenong, with the next Melbourne tour on Nov 3. To find out more click here.

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