Never a dhal moment: Sarnia’s 5th Indian eatery opens

Owner and chef Aditya Kumar, left, and manager Vipul Nayyar, hold a steaming chicken tikka sizzler at Natural Spice Multi-Cuisine. Cathy Dobson

Aditya Kumar came to Sarnia five years ago to cook at the city’s first Indian restaurant.

Three more Indian restaurants have since set up shop locally and Kumar decided recently to strike out on his own and open a fifth.

“Everyone needs their own space,” he says, explaining why he wanted to be his own boss.  “I saw this place and thought it was a good location.  Another restaurant lasted here for 40 years and I think that’s a good sign.”

Kumar leased 792 Confederation St. where the former Open Kitchen operated. He renovated the kitchen, washrooms and a 125-seat, licensed dining room and opened two months ago.

A new tandoor was purchased for his kitchen. The clay oven is used to bake traditional Indian naan and slowly roast tikkas and kebabs.

Kumar, the main chef, is setting his restaurant apart from others that serve Indian by offering Canadian and Asian food as well.

The new Natural Spice Multi-Cuisine has an extensive menu and is open most days for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfasts include typical North American fare like eggs, bacon, potato, and toast starting at $6.95.

Indian selections feature food from both northern and southern regions.

Paneer paratha, for instance, is whole wheat bread stuffed with fresh cottage cheese and spices and served with yogurt and pickles for $9.25.

Among the South Indian breakfast selections are thin rice crepes filled with spiced potatoes and onions (masala dosa) for $9.95. A thick vegetable curry (pav bhaji) served with soft bread, sambhar and chutney costs $6.95.

Lunch and dinner features Indian and Asian food. Kumar has also come up with some new ideas that combine cultures.

“For instance, people like butter chicken and they like pasta, so I make a fusion that I call a chef’s special,” he said.

For $14.95, penne in traditional Indian butter sauce with chicken is available. Four other chef’s specials include a leg of lamb pot roast served with yogurt, Indian spices and brown onion for $20.95.

The menu includes many vegetarian options, as well as lunch combos, curries and seafood entrees.

Indian and Asian street food is available too, said restaurant manager Vipul Nayyar.

“You’d find street food at the markets in India or China. It’s what people there grow up with, like hakka noodles.” Hakka noodles, or chow mein, is described as a Chinese noodle with an Indian twist made with cabbage, onions, peppers and spice. It comes with chicken ($10.95) or vegetable ($9.95).

Nayyar said he’s confident the Sarnia market can support five Indian restaurants.

“I think we could have five more,” he said. “There are a lot of Indian students at Lambton College and they want the food from home.

“Local people too are very excited about another Indian restaurant. Each has its own style of making each dish,” said Nayyar.

Kumar, 38, trained to become a chef in India and said he started his career in a five-star restaurant in Northern India.

Eleven years ago, he immigrated to Canada and worked at the Weston Hotel before accepting a job and moving to Sarnia.

“I see this as a peaceful place where I want to stay,” said Kumar, who has a young family here.

“I’ve come up with a different concept for my restaurant where I have something for everyone in the family.”

Natural Spice Multi-Cuisine at 792 Confederation St. is open Monday 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Tuesday to Sunday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. There’s a 15% discount on takeout picked up between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Delivery is available for $5 in Sarnia, $7 in Corunna. Call 519-332-0006 or order online at naturalspice.ca.

Got a great idea for a business story? Send it to cathy.dobson@thesarniajournal.ca.