Spice Indian Cuisine & Bar owners Lasath Hikkaduwage and Rajive DeSilva naturally enjoy seeing people enjoy the restaurant they opened in 2019.

Especially flattering is when diners tell them they drove over 50  miles to explore their menu, which happens on occasion. “I was speechless,” Hikkaduwage  said, after recently learning a customer had come from Boston.

Both owners are from Sri Lanka, where Hikkaduwage worked in a hotel and began his career in food service as a pastry chef. At Spice, he presides over the kitchen as Chef on dishes that center around the varied cuisines of Northern and Southern India, giving patrons a chance to experience India’s diverse flavors.

Spice Indian Cuisine & Bar Owner Rajive DeSilva pours a cocktail at the restaurant. Photo courtesy of Spice Restaurant and Bar,

“South Indian dishes have a lot of nice spice, kick, and the dishes that are coconut--based have the spices almost like Sri Lankan,” Hikkaduwage said.

“Indian spices makes food very delectable. The fragrance of coriander,Turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and cumin makes (dishes) mouth watering” he maintained. “They are connected to ayurveda and they give good health benefits. Most importantly we use fresh ingredients and cook with love. That's what makes our food special. Sri Lanka is a beautiful island and we have multiple races and religions. We are most influenced by South India and most food are similar to them. Sri Lanka has a vibrant culture and we are very peaceful and respectful,” said Lasath. He grew up with his father, sister and brother. Their mother died when he was 7. “Since young, I loved food and was interested in learning how to cook.. So when I was 16 I learned about a cooking program in a prestigious Hotel” and been cooking ever since.

For a taste of the Indian state of Goa, consider chicken vindaloo, cooked in a hot and sour tangy tomato sauce with potato or Mangalorean fish curry, which is salmon prepared in a tangy coconut stew with ginger and curry.

Traveling further north, a Kashmiri specialty is Chicken Dhaniwal, which is curried chicken cooked with homemade yogurt and fresh cilantro.

Garlic naan at Spice Indian Restaurant & Bar. Photo courtesy of Spice Restaurant and Bar.

A popular dish is their Butter Chicken, of Punjab, which is clay-oven-grilled boneless shredded chicken cooked in a buttery mild tomato sauce with onion, bell pepper, and spices. If you're interested in exploring the flavors of Andhra, consider Lamb Pasand, a northern recipe of lamb stewed with creamy cashew sauce, or Mamsam Koora, lamb cooked in a spicy gravy with red chilies, coriander, and green chilies.

“I feel so proud of myself and what I’m doing here. I started my career in 1997 and worked for many places. I started in a bakery as a pastry chef. I tried many different things, all Indian, so many varieties of food, different specialties. I worked for the leading restaurant chain,” said Hikkaduwage.

Spice Indian Cuisine & Bar Owner Lasath Hikkaduwage is the chef at the restaurant. Photo courtesy of Spice Restaurant and Bar.

He moved to the United States in 2005, lived in Bethel, and then moved to Brookfield in 2020. A neighbor, Mindy Kelly, said, “You can’t find a more kind, loving family.”

Hikkaduwage trained as an all-around Indian chef at Coromandel Cuisine of India for almost 13 years. Before that, he was an assistant baker for Celebrity Cruise Line and a baker at Spinneys Dubai supermarket chain.

The cruise line offered diverse chef experiences because he worked in the hot galley so he became adept at preparing many different types of food.

The four-year-old establishment has established a regular following in addition to the many newcomers who, especially on weekends when it’s typically crowded, find their way in. There always seems to be a place for everyone (sometimes with just a short wait) no matter how busy they are.

Spice kitchen staff focused on preparing meals on a busy evening. Photo courtesy of Spice Restaurant and Bar.

Marietta Homayonpour of Bethel said she’s eaten at Spice several times. “Besides the food being very good, I wanted to relate one incident that very much impressed me. I was there last June with a group of about nine or ten people and when the waiter (I think he was the owner) took our orders—which were extensive and varied—he didn't write anything down. Still, we each got exactly what we ordered and I marvel at the waiter's excellent memory.”

Kulfi is a dessert at the restaurant. Photo courtesy of Spice Restaurant and Bar.

Carolyn Mueller of Danbury has also been a repeat customer. Most recently she took a friend visiting from out of state who likes Indian food.

“I knew firsthand from previous visits that the food at Spice is delicious. It was a hit! I was so pleased. We both enjoyed our meals, and the staff was friendly and helpful," she told the Grapevine.

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