The Colonial family of eateries (the others are in Darlinghurst and Neutral Bay) stand out among Sydney’s Indian restaurants by virtue of their distinctive offering of Indian subcontinental dishes that are not only geographically specific, but grounded historically in the nineteenth- and early twentieth-centuries, when India was still British India and Pakistan had yet to be born. It’s food from the Khyber region that The Colonial specialises in, and special it certainly is, with a novel tapas-style selection alongside hearty mains that embody the typically robust culinary culture of this cuisine’s mountainous home. The Colonial in Leichardt, less than a block up Norton Street from Parramatta Road, has an extra special something going for it, too: a spacious shisha garden that’s ideal for exploring The Colonial’s peerless offering in the summer months.
Besides being unique in Sydney’s Indian restaurant scene for reviving a long-forgotten cuisine of a barely remembered historic region of India and modern-day Pakistan, The Colonial Leichardt also gives diners the option of exploring what’s on offer by way of shareable tapas-style small plates and larger platters. New on the list are the chef’s special tapas, including the vegetarian paneer tikka multani, taking the traditional Indian subcontinental cottage cheese and infusing it with herbs and spices, glazed with a gram flour marinade and cooked in the tandoor. The murg achari tikka is a pickle-flavoured chicken tandoori delicacy that is ideal as an appetiser, while the zafrani fish tikka is again treated to a gram flour marinade with the addition of pungent mustard oil, pan-fried and served sizzling with raita. Bigger groups dining at The Colonial’s Norton Street restaurant might want to pick over the big vegetarian, non-veg, and seafood platters, while the truly adventurous will turn to the mains and chef’s specials.
The Colonial is a haven for Sydney’s vegetarian fans of Indian cuisine. It’s no surprise that veggies are well-catered too, given that vegetarianism is a traditional part of Indian and Pakistani culture. A huge list of authentic non-meat dishes await diners at this Indian restaurant in Leichardt, with several preparations of paneer – cooked in a cashew sauce or a makhani-style himachali tomato curry, baked tandoori tikka-style, or with spices and spinach as palak paneer – all function as gorgeous introductions to The Colonial’s impeccable selection. Even though the focus here is on northwest Indian and Pakistani cuisine, seafood lovers can bag a Goan fish curry, or the prawn-based jhinga jalfrezi, and the coconutty kochi prawn, too, but lamb and beef has the lion’s share in this Norton Street kitchen. Choose from bhuna, rogan josh, korma, pasanda, and saag, and be blown away by the depth and richness of these dishes, prepared so simply but to delicious effect. Be advised that in summer The Colonial’s garden area gets very busy, so book well in advance to reserve your journey into the hinterlands of Indian and Pakistani cuisine.