A recent masterclass with Peter Kuruvita reminded me about Sunil’s Spice Centre in Thornleigh. This local gem supports more than just Sri Lankan Australians - the packed shelves also cater to the needs of Thornleigh’s Indian community. While the suburb has seen some demographic shifts in recent years, India still ranks in the top three birthplaces for locals born somewhere other than our shores. This train of thought is what led me to Thornleigh Curry House. I was particularly interested to see if the suburb’s Indian population would mean a higher standard of curry as it does in areas like Harris Park.
Thornleigh Curry House is located in a dated and ugly business park that has been cheaply constructed with all architectural flourishes spared. The interior reminds me of a suburban Chinese restaurant, like the ones that sit above and on one side of it, with folded white cloth serviettes and bright red vinyl chairs.
From the seventies-style wooden bar hutch, lined with hanging glasses, we - perhaps optimistically - opt for a Martini ($10) and a Tequila Sunrise ($10). While crude, they're both drinkable, and have an air of retro-charm. Based on Bombay Sapphire gin, the martini is fruity with an unusual flavour that reminds me of pineapple.
For everything else there’s beer – a mainstream selection, but the Indian Kingfisher ($8) drinks fine – or you can have an equally retro wine, like the Houghtons White Classic ($26).
For a fifty-seater restaurant, the menu is quite extensive, making it quite quite hard to know what to select. With so many different curries, we opt to skip over entrees in favour of a balanced curry selection, so kick off with savoury pappadums and a lovely light mint raita instead. We tried to chosse three different curries that would contrast with each other. Achari Beef ($18.90) is a tangy beef curry that uses the same spices you’d use in an Indian pickle, and some pickle juices that help to give it a tangy, sweet and sour edge.
For something creamy, we chose the coconut-based Chicken Madras ($17.90). Listed as hot in their chilli rating system, it was actually a creamy and pleasant curry – great for dipping naan into – with just a lip-tingling amount of heat.
From the vegetable list, the Patiala Baingan ($15.90) with eggplant, onions, cashews and dried fruit appealed most. It's super-mild and the semi-sweet fruit elements would likely make it child-friendly if you happen to be dining with kids.
Despite the dishes looking small, we had enough curry left to construct a dinner for two from leftovers the next day. We had plenty of everything left, though we did did finish the serve of Kashmiri Pulao ($6.50) their nutty fruity rice mix.
The Aloo Paratha ($4.50) stuffed with a gluggy mix of barely spiced potatoes felt a bit damp and disappointing, but the Onion Kulcha ($4.50) filled with lightly spiced, slightly sweet onions was a definite win.
Put your mouth back together with Kesar Rasmalai ($6.90). It’s a little bowl of spongy cottage cheese balls sitting in creamy saffron milk, that will ensure you don’t find yourself tasting garlic, chilli and spices all the way home.
While I don't rate Thornleigh Curry House as highly as some of the Indian restaurants I've found in Harris Park, it's more than adequate for a casual midweek Indian dinner.
Thornleigh Curry House
Unit 6A, Central Park
4 Central Avenue, Thornleigh
Ph: (02) 9875 4040