Mitch Aldawsari, the owner and chef behind Real Falafel, knew almost instantly when he moved from his Central Market stall to a larger site close by that he wanted to use the old space to explore a new concept. Enter Secret Spice: a pop-up Indian joint serving classic curries, salads, rice and naan.

It’s inspired by the time Aldawsari spent living in Dubai (a city with a sizeable Indian population) and his experience working in Indian restaurants. Plus, customers at Real Falafel would ask, from time to time, if Aldawsari knew any stalls where they could purchase Indian food for lunch. The menu at Secret Spice – designed in collaboration with "tandoori master chef" Vijay Bhai – embraces popular classics such as lamb rogan josh, chicken tikka, lentil dal, eggplant curry and butter chicken. “I’m really excited because it’s the traditional food. We do everything from scratch,” says Aldawsari. “Everything is fresh daily, and anything that’s cooked is done with the charcoal.”

Opening a curry bar in summer is a bold move. That fact’s not lost on Aldawsari, and so he’s come up with a range of salads, which you can opt for in place of rice. “We serve our salads with tandoor chicken tikka, with butter chicken sauce on top of the salad as a dressing, and mint chutney,” Aldawsari says. “Because at lunchtime, sometimes you don’t want to eat [meals that are] too heavy.” The salads will contain coriander, onion, mint and other herbs. Rice is still very much available, of course: the staple is a basmati rice cooked with butter and ghee. “Our rice is not that boring steamed white rice,” Aldawsari says. “It’s a rich, rich rice.”

Aldawsari will split his time between the recently expanded Real Falafel shop and Secret Spice. The brightly coloured space is decked out with a tandoor oven, and there’s a small selection of spices and other Indian food products to take home.

Secret Spice
Shop 22A, Central Market Arcade
Hours:
Mon to Thurs 10am–3pm
Fri 10am–9pm
Sat 9am–3pm