22/03/2014: Travelling past today, I noticed that this premises is now Jashan Tandoori Indian Restaurant, which is not wholly vegetarian.
April 24, 2013
Last year reader Claire recommended we check out Atithi Indian restaurant in Moonee Ponds. This week we had the mood and the means to visit and met up with four friends similarly disposed towards a curry feast. Atithi's kitchen is entirely vegetarian and egg-free. Although such things aren't visibly marked, we discovered that the menu has plenty for vegans and coeliacs to enjoy - we had both on board, so one of the staff patiently stepped through every page of the menu highlighting suitable dishes for us.
We started out with the ever-reliable pakoras (top right, $5 for 8) then tried some new entrees. The ragda petish (left, $7) was a dish of sauce-submerged potato patties piled with crunchy chickpea noodles, onion and capsicum, while the bhel puri (bottom right, $7) took crunchy a whole lot further with its nibbly mix of puffed rice, more chickpea noodles, onion, tomato, apple and spices.
Our mains began with a smoky palak corn capsicum (top left, $13), cumin-spiked jeera rice (top right, $3.50), chana masala (bottom left, $10), and veg jaipuri (bottom right, $14). For the latter dish they kindly omitted the paneer and we were treated to sweet, tender vegetables bordered by tomato and crowned with a pappadum.
We rounded out our starches with saffron rice (top left, $3.50), butter-free wholemeal roti (top right, $2.50 each) and the mixed vegatable pulav (bottom right, $8). The dal makhani (bottom left, $10), made ghee-free just for us, was probably my favourite of the night and the first bowl cleared.
For those up to eating dairy and/or wheat Atithi also offers range of Indian street food, a couple of baffling pastas (I might one day order the pineapple/veg macaroni just to gross out Michael), Indo-Chinese dishes, half-pages each devoted to paneer and kofta, naan and a few desserts. That is, there's enough here for us to order new dishes every time over many, many visits.
The atmosphere of Atithi is that of any number of neighbourhood Indian restaurants, and I'd be glad to rely on them for regular lazy-night takeaways. Everything we ate was good, and some dishes were even great; ponying up just $16 per person for the food above felt like excellent value. The strengths that will draw us out of our neighbourhood to Moonee Ponds are the diversity of the Atithi menu and their brilliant accommodation of special dietary requirements.
There's a generally positive review of Atithi on Consider The Sauce.
730 Mt Alexander Rd, Moonee Ponds
veg dishes $2.50-17.00
Accessibility: I think the entry was flat (if a bit narrow); the interior is flat and tables are well-spaced (and probably movable). We ordered at the table and paid at a high counter. We didn't visit the toilets.