Who says you have to leave Canberra to sample the foods offered throughout the different regions of Indian? While Daana, located in Curtin, specialises in South Indian cuisine, they also offer a range of regional cuisines. They were recently named as the best new restaurant in ACT and pride themselves in delivering unique Indian food with a spirit of generosity.
You may remember Daana as the popular 40-foot shipping container that landed at Westside Acton Park, in 2015. In September 2016, husband and wife, Sanjay and Sunita Kumar, took their 20-year dream and made it a reality by opening the doors to their first full-service restaurant in Curtin.
Daana is a ‘destination restaurant’ that’s nestled among homes on Theodore St in Curtin. It has exclusive parking for customers so you have the option to park directly at the front of the restaurant.
It’s been a big first year for Daana, topped off by their recent award for 2017 Best New Restaurant in ACT, at the ACT Savour Australia Restaurant & Catering Hostplus Awards for Excellence.
“The journey has been indeed very fulfilling and we look forward to many years of presenting authentic regional cuisines in Canberra,” Sunita said.
Sanjay and Sunita are both trained Chefs and while Sunita went on to dabble with the corporate world after two years of working as a Chef, Sanjay led a successful career with India’s leading hotel group, Taj Hotels and in Airline Catering for nearly two decades.
At Daana, they cook Sunita’s family recipes and recipes learnt from their elders, using traditional methods. Sanjay and Sunita believe in creating simple, unpretentious food that nourishes not just the belly, but also the soul.
There are many things that make Daana different to other Indian restaurants in Canberra, including the food they offer and the community that Sanjay and Sunita have created.
“Our focus is on South and regional Indian cuisines and in comparison to North Indian curries, our curries are lighter and more nuanced in flavour, texture and composition.”
Daana is also well known for their all you can eat thali (a set balanced meal of many dishes served as a platter). They create different thalis from different regions every weekend that include a range of dishes. You can choose from the vegetarian thali for $30 or a non-vegetarian thali for $35. You also receive unlimited refills of the dishes on offer!
The calendar of regional thalis is published on their website and social media at the beginning of each month and the menu for the weekend is published by Tuesday each week. See their upcoming regional thalis.
Sanjay and Sunita say they could perhaps be the only restaurant in Australia to have presented 55 unique menus of regional Indian cuisine thalis, with no two menus being the same, even if they’re from the same region.
“We are so proud of this effort and the support we have had from our regular guests. There’s a lovely Japanese family who have experienced all 55 of our weekend thalis. We also have other families who are catching up and have relished more than 25!
“Daana’s ‘thali loyalists’ are so hooked on the thalis that they haven’t even tried our al-a-carte menu in its entirety yet.”
Mr Eat Canberra and I recently dined at Daana on two occasions. The first time was for Karma Kitchen@Daana, a regular event that is dedicated to supporting a charity or cause in the community. At the Karma Kitchen there is no set price for a special 3-course chef’s menu. Instead guests have the option to pay it forward, and pay what they wish to pay for the meal and the cause. Daana then donates a portion of the proceeds from the event to the charity or cause being supported. They helped raise more than $2,000 for Hartley Lifecare at the most recent event.
The second time we visited was for Onam Sadhya, a unique mega banquet that is purely vegetarian and marks the auspicious beginning of the harvest season. It also marks the beginning of Onam, a major cultural festival that lasts for 10 days in the state of Kerala, India.
It was an amazing and a very delicious cultural experience where we feasted on more than 40 dishes (yes, 40) in one sitting, served on a banana leaf! Everything we ate was so tasty and after the event I needed a nap….. It’s safe to say we didn’t need dinner that night! Daana’s unique events sell out quickly so keep an eye out for and reserve your spot while you can.
Daana in Sanskrit means ‘generosity’ or ‘giving’ and Daana embodies this meaning in name and spirit. From the Karma Kitchen events to the fact that Daana hires people from all ethnic backgrounds and people with special needs. The kindness and generosity that Daana represents really does shine through in everything they do.
The food is also something you need to experience, they home blend all their spices and that truly differentiates their food. There are lots of popular dishes on the menu including Sanjay’s signature dish, Hyderabadi Dum Biryani, Daana’s home style goat curry, Kerala Fish Curry and their unique vegetarian dish Gojju Ambode.
Although all of the dishes are worth trying, Sunita says that a definite ‘must try’ dish is the Southern Indian specialty dish Dosa. You can choose from a range of combinations that include chicken curry, lamb mince curry or the spicy Mysore Masala Dosa. Vegetarians and vegans also have plenty of options to choose from the menu. Sanjay and Sunita are committed to keeping the Al-a-Carte Menu dynamic and they are currently working on a Summer Menu revamp, so there is more to look forward to.
Always looking for new ways to give their guests a unique experience and support local talent, Daana also have a live band- A Little Mayhem playing on Wednesday nights, they welcome other local artists, painters, singers or bands to connect with them to collaborate.
On popular demand will be hosting their second Biryani Festival from 11-25 November and have also a range of packages available for Christmas parties and end of year celebrations. See their 2017 Festive Packages.
Daana is busy on most nights so bookings are recommended.
To make a booking call (02) 5105 1048 or make a booking online. Daana are also available to order from Deliveroo.
Address: 83 Theodore St, Curtin
This is a sponsored post but all opinions are the author’s own.