Nestled in the bush at Helensburgh NSW, in the vicinity of the Sri Vankateswara Hindu Temple grounds sited on a hill at the northern end of the Illawarra coast, lies an unassuming canteen which offers delights in Indian vegetarian cuisine. If driving by car, you have to turn off the ramp from the main highway south of Waterfall and not head towards Wollongong and the NSW South Coast. City trains do have scheduled runs to Helensburgh, but it is a distance to navigate from the station to the Temple at Temple Road. The place is packed with crowds on religious festive days and Sundays, but it is always wise to plan your trip and arrive early , meaning like around 1030 am. The canteen opens at 10am on weekends. The menu consists mainly of dosas, breads, rotis, deep fried snacks, yummy vegetarian curry and yogurt based dipping accompaniments. Even the 'blank" dosas are delightful as they are light and easy. An interesting combination is the dhalpuri, a version of the roti that is packed with yellow split beans, garlic, pepper and cumin. I just love the sambar offered here, with deeper intensity of taste than some commercial competitors in Australian conurbations - and offering a kick when eaten with the fluffy warm pancakes or crepes. Rotis are essentially made from atta flour (stone ground wholemeal flour). Another of my favourite choices from this canteen is the paratha. Some of the curries - essentially light and soupy with no coconut milk - can be hot and vary in spicy intensity. On a cold late morning, i have now learnt to not take my hot coffee too early but after my meal.
The canteen is well organised, asking for customers to line up and order/pay at a central spot. You are then given coupons which you use to collect your food and drinks from other counters. As in any self-respecting outlet, the food is prepared and served fresh. Disposable utensils and plates are used - and there are sinks to wash up and neatly maintained garbage bins. You sit under cloth tent covers or in the open - I rather prefer the latter on a fine day as I did with Arun last month. We could take in the pleasing and inspiring views of gum trees, the Aussie blue sky and feel the fresh air in our face.