9 March 2023

'It tastes homemade': Third new Indian restaurant opens in Griffith in three months

| Oliver Jacques
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Onkar Singh stands in front of painting

Onkar Singh at Apra Curry House. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Indian food is beginning to rival Italian as Griffith’s most ubiquitous cuisine, with three new subcontinental eateries opening on Griffith’s main street in the space of less than three months.

One of them is the eclectic Apra Curry Takeaway House, launched by former Baiada employee Onkar Singh and his wife Paramjit Kaur at 454 Banna Avenue in December 2022.

“We had been running the Apra Grocery and Convenience store since 2016; our ready-made food was very popular, so we decided to open a full restaurant next door,” Mr Singh said.

READ ALSO Harry Lal opens Riverina’s first Punjabi-themed restaurant in Griffith

Much like Swaad Punjab Da, owned by another ex-Baiada worker which opened its doors a few days earlier, it features an expansive menu strongly influenced by the trademark cuisine of northern Indian states Punjab and Gujarat. The husband and wife duo at Apra do all the cooking themselves.

“We have five different types of goat curry,” Mr Singh said. This includes goat punjabi, goat roganjosh, goat korma, goat madras and goat spinach. He also offers chicken korma, a curry made with coconut milk and almonds which was a favourite of former prime minister Scott Morrison, who often posted photos of kormas he prepared on social media.

Colourful signage at Apra including an image of the iconic Taj Mahal was done by local designer Elijah Dixon, while Raj Kaoor, a teacher’s aide at Marian Catholic College, helped Mr Singh in the initial few weeks after opening night.

“We are from the same state in India [Punjab],” Ms Kaoor said. “He is like a brother to me.

“I had experience working in waitressing so I was able to help them get started.”

Outside of Apra Curry House

The colourful signage at Apra Curry House was designed by Elijah Dixon. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Although she no longer works there, she remains a regular customer.

“I love the paneer [cheese] dishes. My kids love the butter chicken and mango chicken. We are celebrating Harmony Day at Marian and these guys provide the food for us. Everyone loves it. It’s worth it – price-wise it’s really good. It tastes homemade, it’s not artificial. They’ve been going really well since it started, they get lots of orders through.”

READ ALSO Griffith’s first souvlaki shop opens permanently after December drama

Ms Kaoor also revealed the origin of the restaurant’s name.

“Apra is the name of a village he is from in Punjab. It’s a very small town, like Yenda.”

Just down the street, the restaurant Swaad Punjab Da opened on 11 November at 198 Banna Ave at the site of the former Afghan Friendship Restaurant. It offers 111 dishes, many of which cannot be found outside big cities.

“The name Swaad Punjab Da is in our language, it means ‘taste from Punjab’. ‘Swaad’ means taste. Punjab is our state. ‘Da’ means from. I originally wanted to call it Taste of Punjab but that name was taken,” owner Harry Lal said.

A third Indian restaurant, Spices Curry Mehak, opened at 420 Banna Avenue on 21 January, 2023. The eatery 99 Spices, across the road at 453 Banna Ave, remains open.

“I remember when I came to Griffith in 2002, there was only one Indian shop. And now there are about eight, including all the restaurants and grocery stores,” Ms Kaoor said.

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