What happens when a professor of social work and a brand expert hook up in a love of authentic Indian street food? Spice Waala, the love child of entrepreneurs Dr. Aakanksha Sinha and Uttam Mukherjee opened softly over the weekend in its new brick and mortar space on 15th Ave E.
“Street food is where the common man goes and eats,” Mukkherjee told CHS during the restaurant’s first day of business last Friday. “But it is also where the rich people go and eat. So it’s like a confluence of people.”
This economic theory take on a new Capitol Hill restaurant’s opening are a good representation of the business from the Assistant Professor of Social Work at Seattle University, and her husband Mukherjee, a brand manager at Procter & Gamble, and now a Capitol Hill restaurateur.
But you are probably interested in what is going on in — and coming out of — the kitchen. “This food is so unique. You don’t get this in Seattle,” Mukkherjee says.
Developing its menu as a mobile food vendor at markets in Fremont and South Lake Union, Spice Waala has created a following for its kathi rolls filled with chicken, lamb, potato, and cheese, and garnished with its “signature green chutney,” and “wrapped in thin roti.” Other specials like suji ka halwa and chicken dum biryani have also been part of the menu.
CHS reported on the new project in February as the new owners prepared to move in after buying Kanaak Cuisine of India and beginning the work to overhaul the old space and reshape the front entrance to give the restaurant a better connection to the street. Below, Dance Underground now has a new, more easily accessed entryway, too, alongside another new food and drink neighbor, Bites of Bangkok, which debuted its mix of comedy and Thai food in November.
The goal for the new 15th Ave E entrepreneurs at Spice Waala is to mix their nostalgic love for real Indian food with efforts around community and social equity. Proceeds from sales of their popular puffed rice Bhel Puri during the first weekend also provided rice for the hungry at Asian Counseling and Referral Service.
Affordability is part of the recipe. “We’re dreamers,” Mukkherjee said. “Street food is like an art.”
The hope is to make that art available to as many people as possible.
“A full meal for $10, that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Spice Waala is now open at 340 15th Ave E. For now, hours are limited. Spice Waala is open Thursday and Fridays for dinner and most Saturdays except for few planned closures so they can continue their popular offerings at the South Lake Union market. You can learn more and keep track of the schedule at facebook.com/spicewaala.