New Dartmouth restaurant offers a little spice and everything nice from around India

·3 min read

A team of friends and business partners from India are looking to spice things up in Dartmouth — but in moderation, so everyone is satisfied.

On Nov. 5, Dinu Mathew, Tinu Matthews, Tony Abraham and Jinu Samuel opened the doors to Spice Hub Indian Kitchen, located at 1015 Main St. The restaurant serves up homestyle Indian dishes prepared by Mathew, who has been cooking for 11 years.

“I’ve been cooking for a long time,” said Mathew, who first moved to Ontario in 2010 to do a two-year culinary management course at Fanshawe College and moved to Halifax in 2012.

“It was my dream to open up my restaurant for a long time, and I’ve been waiting. I didn’t have enough money to do it myself, so I got three other partners.”

The restaurant’s dishes come at a mild-to-medium heat level “so everyone can eat our food,” Mathew said, adding “there is still flavour and everything in it.”

For those who want the extra heat, which Mathew said a lot of customers have requested so far, they can have chili added to their meals.

When he moved to the Halifax region, Mathew said, he noticed a lack of Indian restaurants in Dartmouth. That’s why he wanted to be among the first to open one up.

Originally from southern India, Mathew and his partners also noticed a lack of southern Indian food available in the area. They’re offering a mix of dishes from around India.

“It’s mostly north Indian restaurants (here), so we want to introduce some of our stuff from south India, too,” said Mathew.

Their offerings include porotta, which is a layered flatbread, as well as dosa, a rice pancake filled with rice and beef. Their northern Indian food offerings include tandoori chicken and butter chicken with naan bread.

Spice Hub Indian Kitchen also sells Indian food staples like samosas and an Indian-Canadian dish that’s become a fan favourite — butter chicken poutine.

Mathew said everything at the restaurant is reasonably priced but still comes in adequate portions. Appetizers cost less than $10 and entrees are priced between $10 and $15, he said.

To reel in Nova Scotians who may be unfamiliar with Indian cuisine, Spice Hub Indian Kitchen is also sharing educational posts on social media about dishes, drinks and desserts.

On Facebook, they’ve shared some background on how butter chicken, masala tea and rasmalai are made, for example.

“We want to give (people) a little bit of an idea of what’s going on,” Mathew explained.

The co-owners initially planned to open the restaurant last year, but then COVID-19 hit and altered their business plans. Luckily, Mathew said, their landlord gave them a break and told them they could start paying rent whenever they opened.

With COVID-19 case numbers rising in Nova Scotia, the restaurant is making some adjustments, according to Spice Hub Indian Kitchen’s marketing manager, Binil Kurian.

This week, he said, the restaurant is looking to close down dining and focus solely on offering takeout food until the second wave slows in the province. Spice Hub Indian Kitchen is also slated to join Uber Eats this week, begin offering curbside pickup and introduce placemats with barcodes that customers can scan to see a menu, contact-free.

“We don’t want an exposure here or we don’t want our customers (to get sick). We really value their time, we really value their (support), so we don’t want anything from our side,” said Kurian.

If all goes well with the business, Mathew said, the goal is to open more Spice Hub Indian Kitchen restaurant locations in the region.

For now, he said, he and his team have one wish: “We want (customers) to come back.”

Noushin Ziafati, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle Herald