12 May 2023

Second Riverina curry house and two babies for Singh family of four chefs

| Oliver Jacques
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Singh family underneath restaurant sign

Aman Singh, Raman Kaur, Kamal Kaur, Jinder Singh, and Jeetpal Singh outside the new restaurant. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Opening a new restaurant is hard enough, but to do so while two babies are due in your family seems like mission impossible.

But it’s a feat brothers Aman and Jinder Singh have somehow managed to pull off. The co-owners of Leeton’s Spicy Curry Mehak have launched a second eatery in Griffith at 420 Banna Avenue, having frantically travelled between their kitchen and maternity wards as each of their wives went into labour.

“As soon as we opened, I had to spend three weeks in hospital,” Aman said. “First, we had a baby boy, then four weeks later, my brother’s wife had a baby boy. We tried bringing an outside chef, but we needed someone from the family to do our recipes, so we had to close for a while.”

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Incredibly, Mehak is the third new Indian eatery to open on the town’s main street in the past four months, following the emergence of Swaad Punjab Da in November and Apra Curry House in December. But Aman is not fazed by competition.

“We’re thinking about what we’re selling, not what anybody else is doing. We are fully back on track and motivated. We have babies, we have competition but we are back in business,” he said.

“When we opened, it was a big hit. But we opened, then we had to close, we opened again, then closed. We want to let people know we are open for good.”

Bhel Puri

Bhel puri, popular on Bombay beaches, can now be found in Griffith. Photo: Wikimedia commons.

Aman is already known to Riverina foodies, having worked as the chef at the Whitton Malt House for a year.

“I started working as a chef in Porepunkah Pub, near Bright in Victoria, in 2015. We did a mix of Indian dishes and steaks, etc. Then we moved to Leeton; I first worked at the Malt House and then in 2019 we opened an Indian restaurant. We got a good response, people were coming from Griffith to Leeton to eat our food. Then we started doing catering, which became a big hit. People kept asking, ‘Why don’t you open a store in Griffith?’.

“The name Mehak means fragrance in our language [Punjabi]. When you’re cooking something, the good smell you get is called mehak.”

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His wife Raman, brother Jinder and his wife Kamal are all chefs too.

“We are four chefs, it’s a very family orientated restaurant. I do the curries and my wife does the tandoor oven, making the breads and naans. We offer Punjabi dishes with a touch of South India too, like bhel puri [crispy puffed rice tossed with sweet tamarind chutney] and chole bhature [a spiced tangy chickpea curry]. We’ve also got a few special egg dishes, like egg bhaji, that nobody else is doing.”

The family are already thinking of expanding their empire.

“We have more things coming up; we are making a party function room downstairs and a separate VIP room on the side … we are hoping to open more restaurants in the future – perhaps a full chain.

“We want to say thank you to the community for believing in us.”

Spicy Curry Mehak, at 420 Banna Avenue, is open Tuesday through to Sunday. Takeaway dishes can be ordered via Menulog.

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