Lal Qila, Darling Harbour

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Hey guys, I'm really excited to finally getting around to writing this particular post for you today! Last month I had the most amazing foodie experience which I have been dying to share. Not a lot of people know this so it may come as unexpected, but one of my favourite cuisines is Indian/Pakistani. I am in love with the aroma, the spices, the boldness, and unique combinations.

When an invitation to Lal Qila from Hareem of The Eatery Rush popped up in my inbox, I was so over the moon! A few of my favourite foodies from Instagram had been raving about this place so thats how you know you're in for a treat.

Lal Qila serves up authentic and sophisticated Indian and Pakistani cuisine. It started in Surry Hills and recently opened a new restaurant in the location of Darling Harbour where Francis and I dined in this post. The Darling Harbour location looks simple from the outside but is completely spacious luxurious on the inside. It looks like a golden palace!

We're greeted with friendly enthusiasm by the wait staff who sit us at a comfortable and well-lit table by the window and immediately start bringing us table water and menu's. Not long after we are also personally greeted by the head chef who is happy to make recommendations as well as take care of our dinner for the night as we're completely overwhelmed by the extensive number of choices of the menu. Thank you for that, chef!

We're also briefly joined by and have the opportunity to chat with one of his friends/associates which definitely made our evening so much more fun.

Check out the little vlog I put together for a quick run through of our Lal Qila experience and then keep reading for more details!


Dilnashee Sabazazaar Jaam $7.90

Fresh lime with a mint flavour, also described as a virgin mojito. There is a salty taste to this which makes me think of a margarita or even salted lemonade, and hence I actually really enjoy it! A salty fruit drink isn't everyones go-to so it's all a matter of taste. One thing we can agree on though, is its perfectly cool and refreshing.

Mango Lassi $5.90

I'm so in love with the way this drink was served and presented. I think the red syrup may be rose syrup? Anyway the mango lassi was packed with fresh mango and yogurt flavour. It was thick, smooth and creamy, and so pleasant! If you're someone who can't handle your spices very well but still somehow keeps eating them (i.e. me) then this is the drink for you!

Thanks to letting go of all control and allowing the Chef to curate our dinner for the night, we received an extremely generous amount of delicious entrees to try out. Altogether this might as well have been served with some basmati rice and been a whole meal. Because look at this, are we not being spoilt right here 😍 But nope, there's more to come so let's get right into this entree round:

Pappadums $5.90

Crispy lentil crackers which start off our big night and leave us wanting more! We are served this with four assortments of pickles, relishes and sauces which you can see more clearly below. I am in awe at what a generous amount of sauce and choices we have and each and every one of them is without a doubt, delicious. The easiest one to begin with is the tamarind sauce which tastes like a sweet-tangy bbq sauce, but my favourite is the mint sauce as I love all things creamy and minty!

Paani Poori/Gol Gappy $10.90

I have never had anything like this in my life and if you are in the same boat as me, which surely you are, then 110% you have to order this as an entree! Look how beautiful and exciting it looks! It is described on the menu as rounded and hollow crispy pooris filled with a mixture of tamarind spiced water, sweet chutney, chilli, tangy chaat masala, boiled potatoes, onions and chickpeas. Also with a sprinkle of pomegranate. Apparently this is a popular street snack in Pakistan and India, reinvented with the sauce as spiced water in a shot glass. We were very confused how to eat this but check out our reactions on my video above! All I can say here? It truly was an "explosion of perfectly married flavours" in my mouth - crunchy, sweet, salty, and spicy!

Noorjahani Sunehar Tikka (Tandoori Paneer) $16.90

My first time trying paneer cheese and I loved it! The cheese itself has a soft springy tofu-like texture and in this dish is grilled with ginger, garlic and spices giving it a charred and flavoursome coating.

Francis doesn't like cheese but he enjoyed this entree and it's probably because of the unique texture of the paneer and also the fact that it doesn't have that strong and sharp cheese taste. It's very subtle.

Lahori Machli $21.90

These deep fried Ling fish fillets in their crispy and spicy chickpea shells were oh-my-goodness so delicious. The inside was very soft and flaky making an excellent contrast with the outer coating. I also love how the coating doesn't fall off the fish fillet, a common occurrence with battered fish. The favourite entree between Francis and I.

Qutabi Malai Tikka $18.90

These are cubes of boneless chicken marinated in yogurt and spices, and cooked in a tandoor oven. I was fooled by the charred and smokey looking coating into thinking that this would be a really dry chicken but I kid you not, the silkiest pieces of chicken I've ever had. This is what all chicken should aspire to be like. The flavour is amazing and when I took them home for take-away, my parents and I were fighting over the last piece. 

Still munching on the entrees and wondering how we would even begin to finish them all, our mains soon arrived on the table and drew the attention of all the diners sitting nearby. We had a massive feast going on on our table, I would be jealous too if I was an observer hehe:

Also snapped some photos!

And of course with the Chef himself

Thank you so much for the fantastic company and amazing food, both of you! 🙏

The curries all came out served in a very fancy and traditional looking metal bowl and is kept warm by the heat from the candle underneath it.  I love the designs and it gives such a special and unique touch to the curries.

Unfortunately I accidentally deleted the photo of one of the curries (you can spot it in the flatlay to the left of the naan bread platter) which I am so sorry about so I will review that one first:

Handie $28.90

This curry is cooked using the dum pukht method meaning it is slow cooked with steam until everything is 'mature'. You can choose any meat, seafood or paneer but ours came with boneless chicken. It was our favourite curry of the lot because of how easy it was to eat with the taste being quite mild and suited to our palates, and the chicken was extremely tender and infused with flavour.

Masala-e-Anarkli (Okra) $19.90

Fresh green okra is cooked with tomatoes and onions in a secret blend of spices in this masala-e-anarkli. Even though I'm not a fan of okra and tomatoes due to the textures, this curry actually tastes really good and I think the way they chopped up the two vegatables and mixed it in with everything else did it so much justice! It is very much a dry curry making it the perfect accompaniment of vegetables to our dinner.

Karahi $28.90

This is a dry-type curry cooked in a Karahi (deep cooking wok). Chicken on the bone garnished with ginger and coriander was used in this dish. We find this curry delicious but it pales in comparison to the boneless chicken Handie because even though the chicken truly falls off the bone, it is noticeably drier than that in the Handie. I still really enjoy the spices and flavours it creates in the Karahi and I must admit even though I don't like coriander, it goes really well in curry.

Naan bread (left to right): Akbari Naan $4.90, Roghi Naan $4.90, Garlic Naan $3.90

Stunned with this visually appealing, mouth watering and generous selection of naan bread set upon our table! And it was simply delicious to get to eat every piece fresh out of the tandoor oven. Lets start with the Akbari naan which is the green looking one to the left. It was sprinkled with a mix of thyme, anise, sumac, nuts, sesame seeds and butter. I didn't read the menu initially upon trying this so my guess was it was oregano with something else I couldn't quite name... and to think it's such a complex mix of spices! 

Next up is the roghi naan which is the fluffiest bread of the three. It is said on the menu to be a multi layered naan with butter and sesame seeds. I love how pillowy the mouth feel of this bread is and it has a delicious buttery and nutty taste.

Last one is the garlic naan. This is my go-to which I am so glad they included on this platter. I'm happy to report that these too are delicious with a generous sprinkle of garlic flavour!

Dumpukht Biryani with Goat $22.90

When this was set on the table I laughed to myself because my sister has been craving a good biryani and here I was with one right in front of me! The basmati rice is colourful and both extremely fluffy and fragrant. You can smell this rice no matter what other dish you have in front of you. I love the surprise chunks of goat meat in the rice. Although I almost expected it to be tough and gamey, it was rather tender pulling together this rice dish perfectly.

Francis and I sadly couldn't finish the entire feast laid out in front of us. Even though it barely looked like we ate anything, this means no disrespect to the kitchen because without a doubt every single dish was simply amazing. The staff kindly packaged our leftovers into takeaway boxes for us (had the most wonderful lunch and dinner the next day) and reminded us not to leave yet as there would also be dessert. 

Aam Ki Kul $7.90

How visually stunning is the presentation of our dessert kulfi sticks! On its gold plate with intricate detailing and a generous sprinkle of crushed pistachios and drizzle of rose syrup, I had really fallen in love with Lal Qila by this point. The waiter introduced this dessert to us as being served on a stick as it is a popular street food and it is most convenient to serve it this way. 

Francis tried this aam ki kul which is a mango and almond flavoured kulfi and found it to be delicious, sweet and creamy! We described it as mango lassi on a stick.

Shahi Kul $7.90

I tried this shahi kul with is a pistachio and almond flavoured kulfi. This one was much more gritty than the aam ki kul but uncompromisingly full of nutty flavour which I really loved. The sweetness and fragrance from the rose syrup really lifted this dessert and the extra crunchiness from the crushed pistachios was my favourite part!

By the time Fran and I left Lal Qila with our big and satisfied bellies and large takeaway bags, there was still a lot of diners enjoying their dinner with colleagues, friends and family in the restaurant. We both had such an amazing experience with the food, drinks, service and entire ambience of Lal Qila in their new Darling Harbour location so I can't recommend this place enough. The menu is quite extensive which I feel is especially daunting if you're coming here as someone who has little knowledge of what to order and the whole cuisine, but the staff are always happy to make recommendations or accomodate for your tastes, and there are a lot of fantastic reviews available online where people have tried different dishes. As for the food we received, I recommend it all and am happy to answer any questions if you guys have any.

I'd like to thank Hareem for inviting me to dine at Lal Qila Darling Harbour and I'd also like to thank the team at Lal Qila who made our experience the best it could possibly be! 💖

Price: Expensive
Quality: Great
Service: Friendly and helpful
Ambience: Spacious, luxurious setting, comfortable

Lal Qila
30 Lime St,
Darling Harbour NSW 2000

Open 7 days a week

Lunch: 12PM - 3PM
Dinner: 5PM - 10:30PM

Lal Qila Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kimmiebites dined at Lal Qila as a guest. All opinions and thoughts expressed in this post are a genuine and honest representation of my true experience. 

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