Satya Spice and Chai Shop
The closest thing I can liken Satya Spice and Chai Shop to, is a dive bar, of the sort you’d find nestled down the laneways of Budapest. The Spice and Chai Shop itself is in fact an alleyway that adjoins to a small Indian supplies store run by the good people of Satya. It is adorned with floor to ceiling hessian coffee sacs, yellow filament light bulbs and low stools to stoop on.
We four women arrived at the place around 7pm on a Friday night, and almost every stool in the house was taken. A reasonably large contingent of patrons were sporting beards and beanies (both useful as, being an alleyway, could get quite chilly) and, contrary to the image in my head that everyone would be sipping chai, everyone had lychee mules and glasses of Sav instead.
Unlike the Indian appetiser restaurants across the road which tout dishes you’d find anywhere on the streets of India, SSCS has taken some of the more recognisable elements of Indian appetisers and transformed them into a drinks-friendly version. The only dish that remained unchanged and very recognisable was the dahi puri ($2 per piece), those wonderful little morsels of lightly-spiced mashed potato, tangy tamarind chutney and thick and luscious yoghurt atop on a homemade chickpea cracker and dusted with fresh herbs and garam masala. Order two per person, at a minimum. We have warned you.
For the spice averse (and there were a couple among us) owner Sammy helped us turn down the heat on our orders of paneer 55 ($15) and lamb nukkad ($15). The paneer was touted as one of their more popular dishes, with good reason we found. Dusted in spices and flash-fried till crispy, these morsels were slightly gooey on the inside, in that wonderful way fried cheese can be. The lamb nukkad was a slow-cooked lamb stew, a little mild for my tastes, but warm and nourishing especially on a winter’s night. However the format of the dish was a bit awkward in this street food setting given we had to struggle with just toothpicks for cutlery. Everyone’s favourite chicken karaage (Japanese fried chicken) was given a subcontinental revamp with SSCS’s kurryaage version ($15), suitably hot and adorned with fried curry leaves (which you should eat as they are delicious). The crispy prawns we ordered ($15) were tasty, covered in a lightly spiced batter that was, again, fried, but nothing special.
There’s also a number of rice dishes and idli (spiced lentil cakes) also on the menu but we were well fed after all this. I ordered a steamy cup of their chai masala ($5), a tea of warm spices steeped in hot milk. It was pretty good, but it lacked that bit of gingery pizzazz I’m accustomed to. Those looking for a new dive bar serving food with a good spicy edge to it should stop on by at SSCS.