A soup-er place to stop

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - Graeme Phillips

SOUP STOP

4 Bar­rack St, Ho­bart. No al­co­hol pol­icy. Mon­day to Fri­day 8.30am to 6.30pm, Satur­day 11am to 3pm. Take­aways. 6223 8882. Soups­top. com. au

AND now for some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent – for me cer­tainly and, as far as I know, for Ho­bart. In­dian veg­e­tar­ian street food in the now mis­lead­ingly named Soup Stop.

Dr Har­cha­ran Kaur gave up a hospi­tal ad­min­is­tra­tion po­si­tion in Chandi­garah in her na­tive Pun­jab to come to Tas­ma­nia six years ago to see her two chil­dren through school and into the Univer­sity of Tas­ma­nia. Mean­while, her hus­band, Satin­der Pal Singh, re­mained run­ning the fam­ily busi­ness in Chandi­garah be­fore join­ing them and tak­ing over the Soup Stop two years ago.

With Soup Stop, they looked around the al­ready- crowded In­dian restau­rant scene in Ho­bart and de­cided to of­fer some­thing dif­fer­ent.

While the restau­rant’s veg­e­tar­ian and no al­co­hol poli­cies are de­rived from their Sikh re­li­gion, In­dian street food be­came their point of dif­fer­ence.

And the menu is very dif­fer­ent. So my visit was as much a lex­i­cal les­son as it was a very en­joy­able lunch.

For ex­am­ple, in ad­di­tion to the usual tan­door- baked naan and roti breads, there is shal­low- fried paratha flat­bread with var­i­ous fill­ings, deep- fried puri bread and a cheesy and chewy, tear- apart, fer­mented and deep­fried bhatura bread served with a de­li­ciously spiced chick­pea curry.

With chaat be­ing the generic word for savoury snacks, there are four dif­fer­ent types in­clud­ing an aloo tikki chaat con­sist­ing of a pan- fried potato ( aloo), herb and lentil pat­tie ( tikki) in a dark, soupy top­ping of chana masala curry, chut­neys, yo­ghurt, gin­ger and beet­root, the dish full of deep, dark, tin­gling flavours.

Then tamarind, co­rian­der and mint were used to sour and lift the flavours of a colourful and won­der­fully fresh and crunchy, salad- like dish of puffed rice, cu­cum­ber, onions, peanuts and toma­toes called bhel puri.

From the bain marie came the best samosa I’ve tasted, the cas­ing nicely crisp but pli­able, the fill­ing beau­ti­fully co­rian­der- seed flavoured

and scented. And a pakora was just as good.

And top­ping those was the best dessert I’ve had in an In­dian restau­rant – sooji halwa, roasted sooji ( semolina) in a crumbly cake fl avoured with raisins, car­damom and saf­fron and gar­nished with shaved al­monds.

Then, in­cluded in my best- ever, was a thick, smooth and de­li­ciously fl avoured and re­fresh­ing mango, gin­ger and mint lassi.

To the name Soup Stop on the menus and printed ma­te­rial, they add “and much more”. And there is much more by way of the day’s spe­cials, soups, a va­ri­ety of chaats, cof­fees, teas and las­sis listed on black wall mir­rors, part of the or­ange and black dé­cor, plus a menu list­ing of In­dian rice and break­fast dishes, sal­ads and what they call “Mod­ern In­dian” – samosa and aloo tikki burg­ers and an aloo paratha que­sadilla. Even In­dian food is be­com­ing Amer­i­can­ised.

It’s a small space with just the one ta­ble seat­ing four with additional seat­ing at the wall and win­dow benches.

The place is spot­lessly clean and I watched as the two cur­ries, samosas and pako­ras in the bain marie were topped up with freshly cooked ad­di­tions as they ran down dur­ing a busy eat- in and take­away lunch.

So ev­ery­thing is freshly pre­pared and cooked, gluten- free and ve­gan op­tions are avail­able and the fl avours of ev­ery­thing are sub­tle and beau­ti­fully bal­anced.

Hav­ing asked if they would pre­pare a few of the dishes as they would for them­selves, I went a sec­ond time. It was even bet­ter, only mildly hot­ter but with the over­all spici­ness lifted and brighter.

So, two sug­ges­tion: fi rst, that you go; sec­ond that you ask them to do the same.

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