Lunch at Spice of India
Sharjah used to be a regular haunt for me back in the day. It was where I went to school and several of my friends lived there, so I’d often find myself exploring what that little emirate (at the time) had to offer. The landscape of Sharjah has changed a good deal since then, and my trips there have been infrequent at best. So when I find myself back there for a review, it’s almost a journey of discovery.
The restaurant I’m eating at, Spice of India, is a few minutes away from Sahara Centre, one of the major malls in the emirate. It’s easy to get lost amongst the clusters of buildings, each housing various little eateries, and my destination is hidden in a small lane between two apartment blocks. Strangely, the board above the restaurant says ‘El Tawabel El Hindiya’; the owner later explains to me that they could only get an Arabic name on their trade licence. There are flyers with the restaurant’s English name plastered around the door, however, to clear things up.
Spice of India is a bit cozier than it looks from the outside, and keeps things simple rather than going overboard on garish décor (as can sometimes be the case with smaller restaurants trying to create an ‘authentic’ feel). Other than a few scenic pictures from various parts of India and a traditional sitar mounted along one wall, the look is quite low-key. The upper level of the restaurant is a party hall, ideally designed for an intimate get-together or celebration.
The focus is on traditional North Indian cuisine, though I’m told they offer some South Indian breakfast and snack dishes over the weekend. There are kebabs, of course, and a variety of vegetarian curries. The Mix Platter offers a small sampling of their kebabs, including stuffed potatoes and grilled paneer. Among the main dishes, I try Dal Makhani (always a favorite) and Diwani Handi, a mixed vegetable curry that’s a signature dish. These are accompanied by a Vegetable Biryani and some assorted breads. All the food has a homestyle quality to it with simple, rustic flavors. Presentation is kept equally simple, though, a bit strangely, the kebabs are served on a fish-shaped platter. An odd choice for an all-vegetarian restaurant.
The dessert selection includes classic dishes like gulab jamun and gajar ka halwa, thought it isn’t very extensive. Both are well prepared, and I always appreciate a gajar ka halwa that isn’t overly sweet, allowing the natural sweetness of the carrots to come through.
With a slightly obscured location and confusing signage, Spice of India might be easy to overlook. But those that do take note of this little restaurant can expect a menu consisting of North Indian favorites, a delectable chaat selection and a very homely atmosphere.
Veggie Friendly: ✔ Vegan Friendly: X
Pros: Friendly service, homestyle ambiance and food, economically priced space for small parties
Cons: Location makes it hard to find and easy to miss
Price: $ (<50 AED)
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