"Chocolate naan..." Queen Viv's voice on the other said and that's about all that I heard apart from the words "afternoon tea". Queen Viv's colleague had mentioned the new concept of an Indian Afternoon Tea at Aki's, Woolloomooloo and like I complain that Mr NQN has selective hearing, drowning out all cleaning requests with a gentle buzz, all I heard were the two words: chocolate naan.
I know, I know, high tea has a different meaning to afternoon tea and despite its lofty name, high tea was usually served to the working class, I get that, but I suspect that this high tea is not a working class affair. It's on the Finger Wharf in Woolloomoloo and despite the sometime rainy day, there are already eager diners partaking of the afternoon tea. On every day during the month of October as part of the Crave International Food Festival in Sydney it will then be hosted every Sunday from then after.
Miss America and I take our seats at a table and we can see another table have just received their three tiered stand and are busy taking photographs of each other with their prized lunch. I secretly love it when tourists are about as I feel less conspicuous with my camera ;)
With the High Tea menu ($45 per person), you can choose a soft drink from a choice of three: masala chai or mango, sweet or salty lassi. Then you choose a Brown Brothers Sparkling wine-either a glass of their limited release Prosecco or their NV Pinot Noir Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. In the interests of trying something different, we order one of each sparkling, a masala chai and a mango lassi.
Mango lassi, masala chai and Brown Brother sparkling wines
Our sparkling wines arrive first and then the masala chai which is a strong black tea made with Indian darjeeling masala tea with cardamom and milk. The mango lassi is a mango flavoured buttermilk yogurt drink which is just the right consistency.
A waiter brings us the three tiered stand. We had already checked out the other tables. On the top stand are the meat courses. There is a small glass of two spicy, scarlet shaded, crunchy rice flour coated prawns. The prawns are succulent and so tender they melt in the mouth. Miss America and I concur that we could easily eat a whole plate of these spicy wonders.
Next to these are the little cups of "Upma with papdi crispies" which is a semolina cooked with green peas, carrot, curry leaves, ginger and green chilies topped with a shard of spiced flecked pastry. It's also spicy and comforting which we both love. There are also little pieces of wholemeal roti with spiced onions, coriander, mint and pomegranate dust and plump, succulent pieces of chicken tikka.
On the next tier are the vegetarian savouries. There is an Indian version of a quartered high tea sandwich filled with cottage cheese (paneer) crumbled up with tomato and a herbed chutney. There is also a soft, white cocktail bun filled with a flavoursome besan battered deep fried potato dumpling which is slightly too small for the bun (I'm a ratios person).
The last tier is the sweets and of course we have to start with the chocolate naan which is a slice of naan filled with chocolate sauce and sliced strawberries. Oh yes, it is good as good can be indeed and is both of our favourite along with the prawns. There are also shot glasses of kheer which is a sweet saffron infused basmati rice custard which is a gorgeous take on an English rice custard. Finishing off the plate are two biscuits, a nutty biscuit sandwiched together with chocolate and an apricot flower shortbread biscuit, both nice enough but not very Indian compared to the other morsels and we wish they'd stuck with the Indian theme the whole way.
The heavens open and the rain starts falling and we sip our teas and lassi while others dash about running for cover. I'll take shelter under one chocolate naan please.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you check out what other diners are eating?
NQN and Miss America dined as guests of Aki's
1/6 Cowper Wharf Rd, Woolloomooloo, NSW
Tel: +61 (02) 9332 4600
The Indian High Tea is available every day throughout the month of October and every Sunday thereafter.