Authentic cuisine that dares to be different
Variety is the Spice Dabba of life
VARIETY is the spice of life – it’s a fine old saying and one which I take as a personal challenge to try as many different curry places as possible. So when Mrs B and I had a rare kid-free night I was delighted when my suggestion of Spice Dabba was met with: “Mmm, yes please”. Sitting above a record shop, the entrance to this place looks more like the stairs up to a suite of Dickensian offices. But the-easy-tomiss door leads into a warm, welcoming space full of wooden chairs and tables. Keep going, (along a corridor adorned with family photographs) and the body of the kirk offers a bigger, brighter and more vibrant air. Mind you, where you sit is hardly the issue. Spice Dabba is about the food, not the decor. It prides itself on serving authentic South Indian fare that gives a true flavour of home-made food as enjoyed by Indian families (which is why those family photos are there). The menu is full of exotic dishes, such as uthappam and dosa (both styles of rice and lentil crepes) a world away from kormas and jalfrezis. We decided to share a kaima cutlet to get us going and munched on popadoms while we waited for the dish to arrive. That’s when we discovered the sweet chilli dip is insanely strong, but maddeningly more-ish. The cutlets themselves were delicious. Golf-ball sized bites of spiced lamb that were meaty and packed with more flavour than should be allowed. Think haggis fritters taken to a different taste dimension, especially when dipped in the chilli sauce. That treat set us up nicely for our mains. We had decided to share a chicken masala dosa, chicken biriyani and spinach dhal. The dosa arrived with its huge crepe, lolling off the side of the plate, wrapped around a fair-sized dollop of chicken masala. The pancake was crispy at the ends, but spongier and tastier in the middle. As per the advice on the menu, we tore chunks off to scoop up the rich stew at its heart that was full of the tender chicken in a mouth-tingling sauce. Yummy. We alternated attacks on the dosa while getting stuck in about the biriyani, which lived up to its menu billing as a magnificent
culinary creation. Who would have thought chicken and rice could taste like this? Shot through with spices, including the cinnamon-like cassia bark, it was a riot of flavours, all set off by the yoghurt raita and spicy peanut sauce that we scooped over the top. I got all adventurous and started adding the spinach dhal into the mix too. But not before I had tasted this modest little dish on its own first. It was creamy from the perfectly cooked lentils, with the spinach bringing a refreshing freshness to the party. Scented with cumin it also carried a fiercer kick than I expected. I was eating it by the spoonful. As I resisted the urge to lick the bowls clean, I was a happy bunny. I had been looking for fresh, authentic, different and wonderful. Spice Dabba had delivered.
I went to TGI Fridays at the Queen’s Links and had their Jack Daniels cheeseburger. It was great value. Norna Duthie, 42, nurse, Fraserburgh The Red House in Cruden Bay does amazing black pudding pakoras. They’re crispy and really hit the spot. Donna Crawford, 40, hairdresser, Peterhead I had a meal at the Hilton Treetops hotel. The melon and sorbet starter was great. Connor McPherson, 17, Bridge of Don Academy pupil, Balmedie
North Deeside Road, Peterculter OUR mixed starter (£11) was perfect especially the lovely spring rolls, which were packed to the brim. My Chengdu chicken (£8) was just amazing, with the piquant sauce a real highlight, while The Boss’ Szechuan mixed vegetables (£5.50) went down a treat. The bill was £22.65.
STARTER Kaima cutlet
MAIN Chicken Biriyani
£7.99 Chicken masala dosa
£6.99 Spinach dhal
With drinks, £34.14
SPICE DABBA ADDRESS: 15 Belmont Street, Aberdeen. OPENING TIMES:
Noon to 2pm, 5pm to 10pm, seven days.
Fresh and authentic South Indian fare that offers a different taste of curry cuisine.
Swift, attentive and very helpful, especially if you’re not familiar with the menu.
Light and airy room with a cheerful buzz.
WELCOME: Lucie Baruirova and Kaima Cutlet.
TUCKING IN: Pat and Colin Harris enjoy a meal at Spice Dabba.
ALL SMILES: Lucie Baruirova, Zita Riedlova and Dave Cruickshank.