The Spice Route

Jackie McMillan
27th Nov 2023

The Spice Route is a weekend pop-up at The Stable cafe at Dulwich Hill. Branching out from their daytime offering - that runs from smashed avo. to burgers - on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings they invite guests to journey with them to the south of India. The menu revolves around single-person dishes where rice and grilled vegetables are plated with your chosen curry. They’re like Westernised thali plates without the balancing pickles and chutneys (sold separately) and the shiny silverware that keeps it separated. 

You can share entrees like the Chennai (former Madras) dish chicken 65 ($14), though I’d take the menu’s origin story with a grain of salt. We had its vegetarian cousin - cauliflower fritters ($14) - but felt the deep-fried florets lacked the expected chilli bite. Cochin vegetable rolls ($9/3 pieces) fared better. They’re pancakes rolled around a tasty turmeric-tinged vegetable mix which are crumbed and (also) deep-fried. They eat well against mint raita, and with multiple cooking processes, are more effort to put together than I would do at home. 

Can’t quite say the same for the curries. Chicken Chettinad ($27) was the best of the bunch, cooked in a tomato gravy, showing decent heat from the mix of dry-roasted spices. It came sprinkled with cashews on rice with red loops of grilled capsicum. Pumpkin saag masala ($25) gave a spiced wedge of undercooked pumpkin, a pool of baby spinach-based curry, rice, and truss tomatoes. Ceylon prawns ($29) in creamy coconut were a bit blander and muddy, would have liked less cooking on the crustaceans. I found the buttered Persian naans ($4/each) too stiff and dry to use with the accompanying curry. The pappadum and mixed rice crackers ($4) were better sauce delivery vehicles. With the curries and plating very home-style, this one doesn’t get over the ‘stuff you can’t easily cook at home’ bar for me. However it isn’t expensive, especially when you BYO, and you don’t have to do the washing up.