Indian Hawker Food at Zaaffran

Eat, Restaurants, Sydney / 11 May 2016

Indian restaurant Zaaffran is located in Darling Harbour alongside a strip of expensive restaurants usually reserved for tourists. This Sydney restaurant is a dining institution that recently celebrated it’s seventeenth birthday. That’s no small accomplishment in the Sydney restaurant scene.
Head Chef Vikrant Kapoor and his partner Freddie Zulfiqar have been working side-by-side since 1998. They originally opened the restaurant to fill a gap in Sydney’s Indian food scene. With an abundance of options from North and South India, they felt that cuisine from the Central region was lacking. The partners have successfully delivered, making themselves known for rare and authentic Indian recipes served with a contemporary twist.
Zaaffran’s new ‘Koomcha’ menu (meaning Indian hawker food) is far from anything you would find on the streets. It includes an array of dishes including beetroot patties, lamb sliders and beef tacos.
Following a round of canapes on the balcony, we ventured indoors to the rose petal embellished, white clothed tables. The first dish to be served were king crab cakes with a salsa of cracked pepper, coriander and chilli.
One of our favourites from the evening came next. The ‘Firangi Frankie’ is Bombay’s ‘original’ multi grain taco. It comes served with lamb and is rich in texture and seasoning.
The ‘Double Roti’ come served with a smokey lamb patty. Rumour has it that the soft texture of these Indian sliders was originally invented to please a toothless Indian prince! Although we liked the idea of Indian sliders, in reality they were a bit disappointing and rather boring. I would suggest ordering an extra round of the mushroom naan with truffle butter instead.
With that naan, we tucked into an array of dips. Our favourite was the mango chutney. The avocado and beetroot dips were also an interesting twist on the usual Indian condiments.
Little bites of double cooked Angus Beef ribs came served with yoghurt, garlic, chilli and garam masala. This was another stand-out small dish, and a great one to order for a big group.
Although Indian food is usually associated with curries, we mainly concentrated on lighter ‘tapas’ style dishes. The one curry we tried was a creamy coconut broth with chunks of stir-fried lobster meat, served with yoghurt riata.
To wrap up the evening (after 16 courses!) we cracked into a crispy layer of light, flakey pastry to try the infamous Zaaffran Biryani – saffron rice and chicken with spices and mint. A perfect accompaniment to the coconut curry.
Zaaffran’s specialty desserts, including rose brûleé with fresh strawberries and salted cashew praline; and saffron and honey panna cotta with saffron apple confit, puffed rice honeycomb and apple pearls.
As a final token, we were treated to fairy floss. It went down a storm, even without a single child in the room.
We had a fun night at Zaaffran but like it’s neighbouring restaurants you’re definitely paying more for the fantastic view. Whilst it’s not the kind of place you’d go every month the great service and interesting fusion of Indian flavours makes it a fun place to bring out-of-town visitors. If the mushroom naan doesn’t win them over, the view will.
10 Darling Drive, Level 2, Harbourside Centre, Darling Harbour
Opening hours:
Lunch: everyday 12pm-2:30pm
Dinner: Sun-Thu 6pm – 9:30pm & Fri – Sat 5:30pm – 10:15pm
See website