The restaurant name ‘Garlic Clove’ is not new to the Gold Coast, but neither is its owner, renowned Head Chef, Sabir Merchant (ex-Kokum). Sabir Merchant is one of those chefs that diners follow, travelling from Brisbane and the Northern Rivers to enjoy the food he prepares.
In Garlic Clove Indian, the first restaurant he has owned, Sabir returns to his childhood roots, to the place where his love of food was born, and his imagination stirred.
Inspired by recipes learned in childhood, at Garlic Clove Chef Merchant presents a menu of authentic regional Indian dishes for the Australian palate.
Born and raised in India, some of Sabir’s fondest memories include watching his grandmother cook. Crouching beside a tiny kerosene stove on the floor, she would use a mortar and pestle to grind her spices, making fresh chilli and coriander powder from scratch and blending her own garam masala. Simple utensils were enough: one clay pan to cook breads and one pot for curries.
“My grandmother didn’t write her recipes down, but she passed them on to me by explaining the ingredients she was adding to each dish,” he tells us. “She had a particular way of adding spices that I remember to this day, sprinkling a little water into the oil to make sure that it was hot enough. If it wasn’t, the mustard seeds wouldn’t split straight away and you didn’t get the proper flavour.”
Years on from Sabir’s childhood, when many Indian restaurants use one ‘mother’ sauce as a base for all their dishes, one big pot of gently spiced gravy simmering on the hotplate to which spices are added to make everything from korma to vindaloo, Chef Merchant uses the same care and attention that he witnessed in his grandmother’s cooking. Reinforced by his classical training in 5-star hotels, he veers away from common practice to recreate each one of his grandmother’s recipes from scratch.
“There are 26 ‘mother’ sauces in India,” he tells us, “and we make 15 of them here in the Garlic Clove.”
Making gravies twice daily, roasting and grinding the spices by hand and making his own cream, (in fact there are several different types of cream needed for different dishes), every curry is totally different to the next. Moreover, all curries and naan can be made vegan or gluten free because they are made to order.
Pungent flavoursome curries rich with fresh garlic, ginger and spices, pillowy naan bread oozing cheese and garlic, and fluffy elegantly spiced biryani are the order of the day. Our favourites so far include Butter Chicken, its flavour and texture boasting of the wholesome goodness of fresh spices, ginger and tomatoes finished with cream, rich Rogan Josh whose lamb falls apart at the touch of a fork, and Samosas served with a rich tamarind sauce.
Served with genteel politeness and courtesy by Sabir’s wife Dolly and other staff, dining in is a pleasure. Far more casual than ‘fine dining’ in the formal sense, it is some of the finest Indian food we have eaten at great value prices. Open for both takeaway and dine in, Garlic Clove Indian is a shining light for everyday dining on the northern side of the city – a little luxury that most can afford. Ormeau should be so lucky…
Note: Check out the Weekday Lunch Special: a curry, rice, naan and a drink for $17.90.
Trio of curries for $49.90, Trio of vegetarian curries $45.90.
BYO $3pp with liquor licence pending.
On one occasion, GFGC dined as a guest of Garlic Clove Indian.
Garlic Clove Indian, 37 Eggersdorf Rd., Ormeau Ph: 07 5547 5501 Open daily 11.30am – 5pm; 5.30 – 9.30pm.