You can thank the recession of 1988 for the Spice Room. A long and fortuitous route saw its owners struggle to find work when they migrated to New Zealand in the midst of the great recession. Not to be held down, the ambitious couple, Kishore and Indrani Matta, decided to open a restaurant, and following its success, opened a wholesale food factory.
Grinning with success, the couple decided to emulate the business model in Australia and set up the food wholesaler, Jewel Fine Foods, and the restaurant, Jewel on the Bay, in Rose Bay.
The Spice Room sees them expand to another waterfront location at Circular Quay. Indrani chose the name based on an old story of a home in the Indian town of Chittor Aquila.
“The residents of this Grand Kothi no longer live there,” she said, “but the home is full of memories, beautiful heirlooms, family photographs and treasured possessions which contain more than a scent of royal lives gone by. In the Interior Courtyard, amongst the antiques and faded grandeur, The Spice Room today serves authentic Indian food.”
With this in mind, she has designed the Spice Room to replicate the interior of a Haveli mansion, complete with intricately decorated steel doors, beautiful tiling and a pastel red, blue and cream colour scheme. Antique recycled timber Jali frames cover sections of the large windows that provide sweeping views of Circular Quay, including the train tracks.
The combination of traditional Indian styling and the iconic harbour views provides the best of both worlds, allowing guests to be transported to India before returning to reality right in the middle of Sydney.
Head Chef, Darbyan Singh, is in charge of serving food that reflects the story of exotic India. He’s well-placed for such a venture, having worked in five-star hotels across India, including the ITC Grand Maratha Sheraton and Oberoi hotels in Mumbai. His expertise in Peshawari style cuisine results in saffron, nuts, spices like cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, peppercorn and dried fruits appearing throughout the menu. It revolves around the combination of Indian street food and upmarket dining, featuring a mix of ‘roadside snacks’, entrees and larger dishes.
Start your culinary adventure on the ‘street’, with a deconstructed samosa and tandoori lamb kati roll. Move into the ‘bite room’ for slightly larger offerings, before dining like a king or queen with the extensive choices of mains. The ‘tandoor room’ features dishes cooked in a traditional tandoor oven, the ‘ocean room’ offers a large variety of seafood or, if your stomach is rumbling, pick from the ‘sharing room’, offering tandoori mixed grill, a seafood mixed platter and a Spice Room pakora platter.
If that’s not enough, there are also another four sections of the menu to choose from, broken up into each dish’s main protein. Vegetarians won’t be going hungry either, with an entire section dedicated to vegetable-based plates.
Despite their exotic finishes, each dish is filled with local produce, including Australian lamb, beef, goat, seafood, fruit, vegetables and dairy. The kitchen team artfully combines these with local and imported spices to create an authentic flavour experience.