CHAKRA RESTAURANT on Beaufort Street had to adapt pretty quickly when restaurants were ordered to close their dining spaces.
It’s a family business, and there’s a good chance your order will be delivered by the cheerful part-owner Kumar, who started the restaurant with his wife Sonia and his brother Ashish.
He says even before the shut down things had become quiet during March as fear of the coronavirus kept people at home, but once they got their delivery system set up they’ve been able to do enough turnover to keep things ticking.
Delivery was a new arena for them: Chakra is focused on dine-in and prides itself on presenting dishes in immaculate and creative modern arrangements.
That’s tricky to do in containers, but they’ve discounted dishes and are pouring in bigger servings that more than makes up for it.
The cuisine is drawn from all across India, with a lot of the curry and naan dishes reflecting the northern traditions around Kashmir and a few of their lentil and dal-laden dishes representing the south.
It’s an inventive and broad menu dotted with dishes you may never have seen before, like the kadhi chicken pakoda (dumplings simmered in yoghurt sauce) or the burnt lamb aubergine served in a cashew curry with pomegranate, boondi raita yoghurt sauce, and served with nigella seed naan. Vegan and gluten free options are also plentiful.
But we were after some comforting curries and they cover the classics too, and we were blown away at the quality.
The lamb rogan josh (at a discounted $19 takeaway price, previously $23 dine-in) is a prime example of the dish done right. The large chunks of meat are moist and tender the whole way through, seared in kashmiri chilli gravy authentically reddened with ratanjot tree bark herbs, and sprinkled with fennel and garlic.
In uncharted waters, we opted for the “medium” spicy level, and the spice is punchy here. Even medium is properly spicy and leaves a nice bite. Scoville fans won’t be underwhelmed if they opt for hot.
The palak paneer ($19) is another instance of a classic cooked to perfection. The diced cottage cheese is firm, never gooey, and bathed in the creamiest spinach sauce I’ve ever had, spiced up with ginger, garlic and the garam masala mixture of many bitey herbs.
The sides are well-tuned accompaniments: garlic naan (precisely cooked to a golden brindle, and a huge serving for two costing just $4), wonderfully fluffy cloud-like steamed rice ($5, again, huge), and cumin-sauteed steamed vegetables that are ideal for a palate cleans between the rich curries ($7).
Apart from the quality, the servings were incredibly generous, and there was enough for two huge lunches the next day.
By DAVID BELL
841 Beaufort Street,Inglewood
Dinner from 5pm Tuesday to Sunday