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ID:	58126 I have lived for 25 years in Belgrave, which sits nicely nestled within the Dandenong Ranges. For the 25 years i have watched Indian restaurants come, I have eaten at them, and I have watched them go. Finding a good Indian restaurant has been very difficult, and an excellent one simply has not existed.

I have had to travel about 14 Kilometres to get to a “good” Indian restaurant, which really while not so far, is not exactly convenient.

Recently a friend told me about a small Indian restaurant that had opened in Upper Ferntree Gully, and its name was Rogan Josh. It is located at 1216 Burwood Highway, Upper Ferntree Gully.

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So last Friday night my wife and I took the 6 Km trip to the restaurant, expecting that yet again, we would be disappointed.

Not only were we not disappointed, but at long last the people in and around this area have what can rightly be described as a ‘world-class” Indian restaurant. Oh, it’s small - it would only hold I would estimate fifty people, and that would be tight. Now while the decor is very pleasant, it certainly doesn’t make it world class. What does? Well it’s the food!

I have eaten so much Indian food in my life and at some of what are reputed as being the best indian restaurants and largely it has been a “ho-hum” experience, and sadly I have also eaten at far too many average to poor Indian restaurants. The food at the Rogan Josh is simply the best my wife and i have ever eaten. A big statement that on reflection some 18 hours later, is not big enough.

Your host, Sandy Gujiral, is the wife of the “master” chef, Ranjeet Gujiral. What a brilliant combination they make. Because whilst Ranjeet creates an indian repast that will amaze and delight you, Sandy and her staff make you feel incredibly welcome.

While we waited for our meal, we were given chapati with a variety of sauces, just to excite and encourage the digestive juices, that had no idea what was about to be presented to them.

I chose the Fish Masala (rated at two chilli peppers), and June chose a Beef Madras which was rated at once chilli pepper. June says she aways has a Beef Madras at any new Indian restaurant as for her it tells the story of that restaurant..

To have with our curry, we had coconut rice, Daal Makhani ( a specialty of the restaurant), Raita, Pickled Mango Chutney and Garlic Naan. Not knowing what wine the restaurant sold, and it is also BYO, I took a nice bottle of Willbriggie Estate Semillon Chardonnay. I found this to be a most refreshing drink, although June said for her it was a bit sharp. I knew that once we indulged in the curry, she would find it very refreshing, and I was right as the citrus overtones come to life.

Now we chatted with Sandy, who took our order, about what is and isn’t their measure of “hot”. She told June and I that if we liked our food spicy/hot, then the two chilli rating would be right. She mentioned that their philosophy is not to produce food that is simply really hot. She mentioned that she recently went to a Thai restaurant, where to make the food more spicy/hot, they just added a lot more chilli.

We agreed that this is not the way that a spicy food should be prepared as the heat that is generated needs to blend in with flavour. June chose to be more conservative and not have her Beef Madras made hotter, and later said that Sandy had been spot on, and next time she would ask for it to go up a level, as the one chilli rating is in fact mild.

It only took one mouthful of the Fish Masala to know I had found my Indian restaurant. I looked at June and the grin on her face told me, she felt the same. The fish and the beef were cooked to the point where it was still firm on the fork, but melted in the mouth. The flavours were anything but mono-dimensional, as each mouthful was ingested it released a plethora of flavours that just blended beautifully.

The Daal Makhani was a fantastically rich sauce of lentils, herbs and spices that is to be eaten to be believed. The Raita was fresh and cuts beautifully through the curry.

June said that in her opinion, the naan was the best she has ever eaten - high praise indeed. The rice was superb, and the coconut had been carefully and thoughtfully added during the cooking process, so it was not overwhelming, but was just in the right amount to be a balance to the other flavours. It was cooked to perfection.

In fact the entire meal was simply unbelievable, and our conversation dwindled to a simple chorus of ohhh’s and ahhh’s, as we immersed ourselves in this Indian food delight. The servings are generous, and in fact we commented that we could have comfortably fed three people on what we ordered.

At the completion of our meal sandy came and chatted with us as a constant stream of people came and went. She mentioned that diners only needed to mention if they were going to the theatre or some function they needed to be at by a certain time, and that the restaurant would then allow sufficient time to allow each course to be digested properly, but also be mindful of the time so diners would not be late. What a great touch.

In regard to dietary requirements, all curries are Gluten Free, there is a large range of vegetarian and vegan dishes available, ensuring that those with dietary requirements can relax and enjoy the fabulous food.

The restaurant is able to cater for functions, with a function room that caters for up to 40 people, and you can hold that special event with them, whether it's a birthday, anniversary, engagement or business event. It also does takeaway.

In fact while I was at the counter thanking the staff and talking again with Sandy, a man who was getting takeaway was next to me. I was commenting that another great thing about the restaurant was that they played indian music! I was saying I was so sick of going to restaurants such as Indian, Chinese, Thai and the like, and being subjected to “top 40” style music. When you go to eat at a restaurant from another culture, the experience should be complete. This place does it all, and does it to perfection!

Our bill for the night for the two of us came to $66.00 and that included a corkage charge. Amazing value!

Oh, the man doing take-away. As I spoke of my delight regarding the music, he turned and said, “This is the absolute best Indian restaurant in Victoria, hey, in Australia!”, and walked out.

I think he is right!

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