Zaaffran was founded in 1998 by two brothers from Bombay who decided that it was high time that Sydney had an authentic Indian restaurant. Their dream was to serve home-style cooking - the kind Indian mums would make.
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Alike the countless number of languages that are spoken between the 1.2 billion people of India, the country holds infinite unique recipes which are as diverse as the spices of the Earth. In India, the mother of each family traditionally composes her own dishes and passes them down like heirlooms of the family.
Unlike stereotypical Indian restaurants, Zaaffran honours the many cooking techniques and spice combinations that makes the cuisine so unique. It does not seek to tame recipes to cater to the underestimations of the Western palate but rather, illustrate that there is more to Indian than chilli. The complexities of India's population can be seen throughout the menu as it moves from spiced barbecued items that combine crispy and succulent textures, to fragrant curries and vegetarian or seafood creations that hold light and simple flavours.
Sitting on the veranda where after-work dinner parties and family gatherings share naan bread and sweet wine, we watch the scattered colours of the city lights dance across the water in a manner that could almost be inspired by Bollywood extravagance. The glass frontage seamlessly invites these whimsical reflections of light into the restaurant, complemented by the interior of elegant creams and warm browns. The wait staff are as knowledgeable about the dishes as the chefs themselves and we gladly take the personal recommendations of our waiter.
We are served with lamb cutlets that have been tandoor smoked in a mixture of coriander, fennel and star anise with accents of green chilli and tamarind. Pan-roasted ribs grace our table glistening with a honey glaze and characterised by ginger, cardamom, yoghurt and a touch of chilli. Airy naan bread is stuffed with mushrooms and truffle butter and begs for second servings despite such generous portions. Seafood curry holds plump tiger prawns, scallops, calamari and fish in a coconut-turmeric broth infused with lemon and finishing with notes of ginger and chilli. Mint, coriander, ginger and green chilli lace the the glazed mince lamb skewers, its garam masala spice balanced by the accompanying mint yoghurt.
With such dedicated preparation behind the harmonising flavours of every dish, each creation at Zaaffran could be an heirloom itself.