Owner of Masala Theory Yashpal Erda believes there’s a part of India Sydney doesn’t get to see. It’s the modern side propelled by young entrepreneurs that mix tradition with globalism and the food of their childhood with what they see on Instagram and eat overseas. He wants to bring that spirit here.
Brightly coloured but deliberately faded murals depict absurdist characters, scenes from India and colonial antiques. One wall is dotted with black and yellow signs with Indian sayings. It’s chaotic but fun.
On the menu there are attempts at experimentation, such as the kaffir lime-and-chutney-spiced chicken sliders; a smoked beetroot-and-buttermilk panna cotta; and tandoor-roasted spatchcock served with corn puree and red-pepper sauce. But most of the menu is made up of traditional dishes, even esoteric Gujarati recipes (the ethnic group Erda belongs to). These include green lentils with cottage cheese, cashews and tomato chutney; and the chaat with three wafer towers, garbanzo beans, chickpeas, sweetened yoghurt, a date-tamarind syrup and mint chutney
The booze-free drinks list (it’s BYO if you do want alcohol) is creative. Lassis are combined with lavender; a jaggery (a type of cane sugar)-sweetened mocktail is spiced with ginger, pepper and cardamom; and green mangoes are blended with ice to make a tart and slightly sweet aam panna.