The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Spice Roots - Authentic Indian Food

With a name like Spice Roots, a lot is to be expected of the North Indian cuisine served at the restaurant especially for those diners with an affinity for hot and spicy food.

Spice Roots manager Harnain Singh Sohal explains that North Indian food which is peculiar to the Kalasinga and the Gujarat among others is quite often spicier and has more flavour compared to their southern counterparts.

I'm not sure I'd be any good in telling the difference between North and South Indian cuisine - what I do know for sure is that I love Indian food especially those meals that include chicken, butter naan and garlic chips.

Incidentally, the butter naan at Spice Roots happens to be the best I've ever tasted in all the Indian restaurants I've been to.

Maybe because the naan there tastes more like a soft chapati as opposed to the waffer-like, crispy naan I'm used to at other Indian restaurants.

Sweet and sour chicken wings just so happen to be one of the most popular meals at Spice Roots. From just one bite it's clear to me why this is so - they're the kinds of wings which immediately made me think of a beach party and a cool vodka cocktail on a Saturday afternoon.

These wings we ate with a plate of masala chips that tasted comfortingly like home with its hints of coriander. There was the standard side serving of cucumber, tomato, lime and onion salad but what struck me more were the tamarind, coconut and bullet chilli chutneys all of which went down really well with the sweet and sour wings.

The kadai chicken at Sh590 which is boneless chicken pieces cooked in a thick and wonderfully colourful yoghurt sauce proved the highlight of the entire meal.

The yoghurt sauce looked especially mouth-watering and we soon wiped clean our plates with the naan. With its cosy, well-spaced bandas, Spice Roots is the ideal venue for koroga - a form of cooking done in the outdoors with the main intention being to spend time in good company, perhaps talking business or politics while enjoying a cool drink in the outdoors.

Therefore, for Sh1250, the chicken koroga can feed a group of four. Fish and mutton koroga is also available at Sh1300 per kg while chilli garlic prawns are priced at Sh700.

The bandas are opened daily without fail from 11am to 5am making it even more of an ideal venue for those who want to party late into the night.

The bandas are also incidentally quite popular with some members of parliament that some bandas have become known as 'theirs', so to speak.

Diners who wish to do a koroga can either cook for themselves or have a waiter prepare their meal at no extra cost as all the waiters also double up as trained cooks.

Wednesday evening is the designated men's day out while Saturday's afternoon are for the ladies in search of a relaxing afternoon.

The kids are entertained by a clown hired for the day as well as a balloon and treasure hunts to keep them busy as the adults socialise in their own way.

I'm pretty sure that the manager Harnain who is cute in that I-could-look-at-you-all-day sort of way gets his fair share of attention from the lady diners - nothing like a good view to go with a good meal.

Spice Roots has ample parking space as well as a banqueting room and lounge for private parties. A bottle of beer cost Sh170 per bottle and so too are a range of other 350 to 500 ml bottled alcoholic drinks.

The restaurant can comfortably sit more than 500 people and is quite the ideal spot for a relaxing koroga on a Sunday afternoon.

However, the price list at this restaurant is VAT exclusive so diners should expect their bills to be a tad higher than what it reads on the menu. Spice Roots is located along Masari Road, Parklands.

For more information call 0731084942 or 0722583562 email: spicerootske@gmail.com

Star rating: ****

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