Asian Flavours – Babu Ji

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By Jessica Williams

Follow Jessica’s adventures on Instagram @jsallgoodthings

Babu Ji is an Indian restaurant just off Fitzroy Street, it is also “a playful term in India to describe a respected person who often dines with ease and enthusiasm”. This is the third restaurant from Jennifer and Jessi Singh who have taken up base in the beautiful and Iconic St Kilda George Building – Jessi leads as head chef.

A visit to Babu Ji can be about so much more than just a deliciously creamy butter chicken, it can be a chance to learn about the enigma that is India and its wonderful food, ancient spices and unique cooking techniques.

The crisp white walls and black chairs of Babu Ji are the refined backdrop to colourful curries and traditional street food dishes – a gorgeous and warm space that we took refuge in, on a cool St Kilda evening.

My first dish, Papdi Chaat ($16), originates from Northern India. Crispy, papadum style chips are drizzled with a tamarind and mint yoghurt sauce; scattered with chickpeas, diced tomatoes and cabbage. It’s India’s version of nachos and salsa, and it is brilliant and varied, in flavour and texture.

A beer from the self-serve beer fridge, which stocks forty varieties, both Australian, Indian and International, is the perfect accompaniment to the Papdi Chaat and other street food dishes and curries to follow. Wine is also available, but there is something novel about treating yourself to a beer at a restaurant from a self serve fridge – complete with a bottle opener hanging from the handle.

With a bottle of Stone and Wood Pacific Ale from NSW in hand, I was next transported to West India (Mumbai to be exact) for our second course of Batata Vada ($14): Spiced Lentil and Potato Parcels. Potatoes were never cultivated in India, and instead were travelled from Portugal to feature in traditional Indian cuisine, and as such, were considered quite the delicacy. These dense, turmeric coloured, curry spiced dumplings, topped with yoghurt, mint, tamarind and radish were so delicious, and with the yoghurt adding a nice cool creamy contrast to this special Indian style comfort food, I now consider them a delicacy as well!

Next I sampled a dish that India is renowned for: Tandoori Chicken ($25). The marinated, free range spiced chicken was sweetly fragrant, and took on a beautiful orange colour (from the spices, not the food colouring – we checked!) and served boneless on a bed of lettuce and topped with spring onion and diced tomato, alongside separate mint and yogurt dipping sauces, was a beautiful sight. It also tasted as good as it looked; the real taste of honest ingredients evident.

Then came the curries, two hearty dishes served in copper bowls – Nilgiri Goat ($20) and Butter Chicken ($18) – with Basmati ($5) and Nan Bread ($12), two pieces covered with glistening garlic and chives and the other seasoned with sesame and onion seed. The Goat curry was dark and rich, finding its origins on the Southern Coast, while the Butter Chicken, from the Northern side of India, was mild and sweet (always a popular favourite).

A Kulfi; a traditional, silky-textured Indian ice-cream, made from condensed milk and flavoured with honey, pistachio and cinnamon, and served on a stick, ended the evening with style and I ventured back out to where I came from, full and content, back into the cool St Kilda night air.


Babu Ji

4 – 6 Grey Street, St Kilda

Bookings preferred online at


Open for dinner Sunday – Tuesday 5pm to 9pm,

Closed Wednesday

Open for dinner Thursday – Saturday 5pm till late


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