The Snake Charmer Restaurant
60 Unley Rd, Unley, SA
08 8272 2624
In the late 1960s, Munjula Watts’ father opened the first Indian restaurant in Tasmania and named it the Snake Charmer. In 1980, after moving to Adelaide for study, Munjula opened her own version of the Snake Charmer in the suburb of Unley, continuing her father’s legacy by serving the same progressive yet traditional Indian cuisine.
Munjula started her hospitality career with Pierre Esquilat at La Terrace, learning all about French cuisine, before working with Karl Roenfelt to learn the ins and outs of German fare. She then ventured out on her own, opening a coffee lounge called Reflections, which, upon her father’s passing, she converted into The Snake Charmer.
There was no stopping there. The savvy entrepreneur went on to open 10 different restaurants, all while meeting and marrying her husband Andrew, and starting a family. After their second child was born, they sold all of their restaurants except the Snake Charmer so they could concentrate on family.
Today the restaurant is a bustling success, having built up a large clientele in its 36 years of operation. Andrew, as Head Chef, has trained 26 apprentices in Indian fusion cuisine, with many going onto their own prosperous careers. For the last nine years, they have also sponsored a chef from Fiji, training him in all elements of hospitality.
The Snake Charmer menu features a combination of Indian and French cuisines, a reflection of Andrew’s training and Munjula’s experience. Everything is sourced as locally as possible, with Andrew and Munjula travelling to the Port Adelaide Farmers Market to buy fresh fruit and vegetables, and Andrew indulging in a spot of fishing to supply the restaurant with beautiful seafood.
We suggest you sample a selection from the curry kitchen, including kofta kari and prawn Malabar – a combination of black tiger prawns poached gently in a coconut and lime masala tempered with mustard seeds and aromatic curry leaves.
For something a little left-of-centre, try the goat durbari – an aromatic dish of premium Australian goat with fennel, star anise and chilli. Don’t forget to taste a dish from the tandoori oven, including the classic butter chicken and murgh tikka masala, which combines fillets of marinated chicken with tomato, chilli, mint, spices, cream and cheese. Pair these with some roti, onion and coriander naan and raita for the complete experience.
Vegetarians will love the wide range of dishes on offer, including the vegetarian thali and paneer matter – a Punjabi-style vegetable curry with peas, potato and homemade cottage cheese.
If you pop by on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday night, your meal will do more than just fill you up. Half of the earnings each night are donated to a chosen charity. In 2012 they sent two 40ft shipping containers full of catering equipment to Fiji to set up a VET catering college where they return each year to teach hospitality and catering.
No matter when you go, one thing is for sure: The Snake Charmer will look after your every need. From authentic fare to a welcoming atmosphere, everything is sure to delight.