Spice of India Restaurant, St Lucia

We stumbled upon Spice of India one lunchtime a couple of weekends ago, drawn inside by the notable TripAdvisor certificates displayed at the front of the restaurant. Spice of India is an authentic Indian restaurant situated in the heart of Rodney Bay. Yesterday we visited for the third time and met it’s owner, Adil Pervez Sherwani. Since opening it’s doors in 2010, Spice of India has become one of St Lucia’s most revered spots, winning TripAdvisor’s prestigious Travellers’ Choice Award in 2015 and rave reviews from visitors. “Never, ever let’s you down” praises one, “Wow wow wow” gushes another.

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Stepping inside this ethnic space, one is at once transported to the mystic paradise of Asia, all while relaxing in the modern comfort of a western-style eatery. The interior of the restaurant strikes an unusual contrast between contemporary warehouse chic and Indian boudoir glamour, without any air of gaudiness. Beautiful bangles in every colour adorn the bar area, rich fabrics in vivid pink and blue drape from the ceiling and the soft sound of Eastern meditation music helps diners to unwind.

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Shortly after sitting down, Mr Sherwani comes over to greet us, introducing himself and briefly explaining what there is to eat on the menu. As once stated by Maya Angelou, people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel. Mr Sherwani’s leads the restaurant with meticulous attention to detail and service. This has filtered down through his wonderful staff who go out of their way to help us feel comfortable and welcome. 

The restaurant’s most popular option is the Chef Tasting Menu. At just $53 East Caribbean Dollars the menu offers a set selection of dishes that include vegetarian, meat and fish options, Indian bread and dessert. As my husband had sampled the Chef Tasting Menu on his previous two visits, he decided to order Lamb Korma and Basmati rice from the A La Carte Menu. I ordered a simple starter of potato and vegetable samosas with poppadoms. Since becoming pregnant, food has lost much of it’s pizzazz. I generally eat through necessity rather than desire, and eating six to eight small meals (as opposed to three large ones) has helped to control my nausea and heartburn.

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Before the food arrived we were treated to five complimentary fresh juice shots; Mango, Tamarind, Guava, Passion Fruit and Orange, which were all delicious. My husband ordered a fresh mango lassi and I had fresh coconut water.

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The food arrived promptly and beautifully presented. My samosas were cooked to perfection; soft spicy potato and peas encased in a warm, sublime pastry that melted in the mouth, accompanied with stylish streaks of tangy chutney. The poppadoms were perfectly crisp and coated in the thinnest layer of oil that prevented them from being too dry. Sprinkled generously with seasoning, they were the perfect accompaniment to both our meals. I sampled my husband’s basmati rice, each grain supple, separate and fragrant. Another satisfying visit, the only minor complaint my husband had was that there wasn’t enough lamb in the korma!

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It is the combination of service, ambiance and culinary excellence that has established Spice of India as one of St Lucia’s most celebrated restaurants. Mr Sherwani has expanded on his success here to open a second restaurant, Masala Bay in Marigot Bay, about half an hour south of Castries City. His new venture has surpassed the success of Spice of India and is now rated the number one restaurant on the island. We’ll definitely be heading down to Marigot Bay to experience what all the fuss is about, we just need to drag ourselves away from the attachment we have to Spice of India first…

Information:

Location: Spice of India is situated at Baywalk Mall in Rodney Bay, Gros Islet, St Lucia.

Telephone:  1 (758) 458-4243

Opening times: Closed on Mondays. Open from 12pm-4pm for lunch and from 6pm onward for dinner from Tuesday to Sunday. Booking may be necessary during peak times. The restaurant is also available for private functions.

Food preferences/Allergies: The restaurant has a wide selection of vegan and vegetarian options. It also offers gluten-free dishes. The food is mild but can be made spicier upon request! Halal chicken and lamb are available subject to availability. Let your server know your food requests or any allergies before ordering.

Cost of Food: $53 East Caribbean Dollars per head ($19.57 US, £14.36) for the Chef Tasting Menu at lunch. About $114 East Caribbean Dollars per head for three courses ($42.09 US, £30.89).

Cost of Alcohol: Wine from $14 East Caribbean Dollars per glass ($5.17 US, £3.79), Champagne or sparkling wine from $99 East Caribbean Dollars per bottle ($36.55 US, £9.90).

Currency conversion can vary and reflects the rates at the time this article was published. 

 

 

 

 

 

Having a Baby in St Lucia

I’ve looked after children as part of my professional life for the past four years. Those four years brought about some of the biggest challenges I’d ever faced at work but I’m exceedingly grateful for that time. Armed with ideas for educational activities, the knowledge of developmental milestones and how to establish routines, I’ve a better grounding in early childhood development than most parents to be. However, I’ve no idea if this knowledge will translate to real life when I’m severely sleep deprived and suffering chapped nipples. What’s more, having a baby abroad is uncharted territory. Who will handle my antenatal care? How do I meet other mums in my community? How will I feel when my husband returns to work and I’m at home on my own with a screaming newborn? I’ve been told that parenting is one of life’s toughest gigs. I’d imagine that parenting in a foreign country doesn’t make things any easier.

I had my first antenatal appointment in St Lucia at approximately eleven weeks and two days into my pregnancy. We’d had a disappointing experience at SAMS hospital in Grenada and were desperately hoping that the medical care in St Lucia was on a different par. From what I understand, British women initially make an appointment with their GP who refers them to a midwife at a hospital or birthing centre and most give birth at the same establishment. In St Lucia, women tend to seek the services of a public health clinic which offers antenatal care led by midwives, or the services of a private obstetrician. Some opt for a combination of both, then refer themselves to the public health hospital once in labour. Others opt only to receive private care, either using just the private hospital or a combination of the hospital and private health clinics. Antenatal counselling such as breastfeeding advice and breathing techniques for labour are only available at public health clinics. Depending on your outlook, you could say that antenatal services in the UK are more streamlined, or that the care in St Lucia is more flexible.

We’ve chosen the services of Dr Nadia Samuel at the private Tapion hospital in Castries. She’s a St Lucian obstetrician and gynecologist who has worked in the UK for twelve years and has vast experience of dealing with obstetrical deliveries and emergencies.

After being weighed, Dr Samuel asked me a series of questions about my medical history. She took my blood pressure then asked me to lie down on the bed for my first ultrasound scan. For numerous reasons, I’d been unable to bridge many emotions to my pregnancy until that point. Being pregnant is a lot like partaking in your own wedding – it feels oddly surreal. I’d also spent a month concentrating all my efforts on the exhausting task of morning sickness boot camp. This had left me little time to ponder life’s changing course and if I’m being honest, had me feeling partially unresponsive.

As Dr Samuel slid the ultrasound Doppler across the jelly on my stomach, a beautiful image came into view on the screen. For the first time, we laid eyes on our unborn baby. My husband mentioned something about being surprised the baby was moving so much and I fell silent in a rare moment of speechlessness. What I felt in that moment was a surge of pure love that was both primal and all consuming in it’s nature. Any suffering from previous weeks was suddenly eclipsed in the miracle of maternal biology. Mummy and Daddy already love you more than you could ever imagine and we will do all we can to protect and guide you in the years to come. 

We left Dr Samuel’s office on cloud nine, heading downstairs to the laboratory in quiet contentment. She’d been professional, thorough and sensitive to our questions, and seeing our baby was the icing on the cake to our first successful appointment. I’ll have an ultrasound scan and appointment every month. These will get more frequent as I approach labour.

The laboratory took a blood test and urine sample. I was given a total of twelve tests which included:

  • Diabetes
  • A test to establish which blood group I belong to
  • A complete blood count
  • A few tests for sexually transmitted diseases, including Hepatitis B, HIV and Syphilis
  • A hemoglobin test which can identify serious illnesses such as sickle cell and leukemia
  • A test that establishes the likelihood of a series of serious illnesses, including a rare type of cancer called adult T-Cell lymphoma
  • Rubella
  • Thyroid
  • Urine infections

A week later Dr Samuel emailed me to state that all my tests were clear.

Before planning our family, Pawel and I sat down and discussed the sort of parents we’d like to be. We believe children should be shown the same love, respect and understanding as adults. We believe children need gentle boundaries, but that these should always be given from a point of love rather than fear or threat. We are strongly against the idea of corporal punishment. We’ll strive to put our child’s needs before our own but try to avoid the pitfall of becoming martyrs to them. We’ve agreed not to read a single book but to parent entirely on our gut instincts. The problem with books is they facilitate the idea that there is one way and only one way to parent. Children are actually fairly individual in terms of the communication, boundaries and affection they require and parents are just as unique as their offspring. Some parents work. Some parents stay at home. Some parents roll around with their children in the mud. Others prefer to cheer them on from the sidelines. All possess the universal goal of wanting what is best for their kids. None of us really have any idea of the type of parent we’ll be until that becomes a daily reality. One thing I know for sure is that life will never be the same again.

DSC_059313 weeks and 3 days. Our baby is approximately the size of a lemon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Options for Vegetarians in Grenada

I’m unlikely to cause offence when I say that most West Indians aren’t exactly known for their propensities towards Vegetarianism. My mother and grandmother are of Jamaican descent, so I’m able to make this statement with reasonable confidence. One only has to observe the pay day queue at KFC in Grand Anse to note the West Indian obsession with chicken. So as a recent veggie convert, it came as a pleasant surprise to learn that vegetarian options are in abundant supply in Grenada. However, leading a vegetarian lifestyle on the island does take some careful planning, as it would in most countries.

13062260_10156870894410422_450024393996717059_nThe Veggie Burger and fries, Sails, St George’s

For the most part, modern-day Vegetarians are a fairly health-conscious lot. The nineties stereotype of the Vegetarian probably brings to mind visions of a pasty individual who cooked vegetables in tomato sauce and declared it dinner. The Vegetarian in 2016 is likely to know their Omega 3 from their Amino Acids. They’re likely to seek creative ways of making vegetarian versions of traditional meat and fish dishes, such as lasagne, burritos and curry. They’ve probably researched how to achieve a healthy balance of protein, good fats and carbohydrates without compromising on vitamins and minerals. Bearing this in mind, I’ve compiled the information below as a resource for vegetarians living in Grenada or considering a holiday here…

Restaurants

Depending on the country, eating out is either a wondrous joy or frustrating disappointment for the Vegetarian. In Thailand I was lucky to find a single vegetarian option on the menu, whilst in Nepal I was spoilt for choice.

DSC_0353The Vegetarian Curry (bottom), BB’s Crabback, St George’s

By-and-large, I’ve been able to find vegetarian options in almost every restaurant in Grenada. My favourite restaurant for veggie food is The Beach Club at The Calabash resort in Lance Aux Epines. I order the vegetable and mozzarella focaccia and the banana crumble and ice cream for dessert when I’m dining there. Sails restaurant in St George offers a delicious veggie burger with fries. Round the corner at BB’s Crabback, the vegetarian curry is nothing short of divine. The menu at Dodgy Dock in True Blue features a creamy bean and cheese burrito served with salsa and sour cream and a three milk cheesecake for dessert – the ultimate in vegetarian comfort food. Head off the beaten track to the Deck Restaurant at Le Phare Bleu Resort in Petite Calvingy Bay and enjoy an elegant tofu salad and sublime views of the coast. Mount Cinnamon Resort on Grand Anse beach offers a moreish vegetarian wrap and the yummiest garlic bread I’ve ever tasted. If you’re on a tight budget, Kelly’s Hotspot in Gouavye offers a truly traditional West Indian dish of callaloo, breadfruit, plantain and mixed salad, and The Greek Kitchen just off St George’s University campus serves a delicious wrap of hummus, chickpeas and vegetables. Of course all of these places also offer a wide range of seafood and meat dishes too, ensuring that all appetites are satisfied.

DSC_0598The Three Milk Cheesecake, Dodgy Dock, True Blue

DSC_0236Traditional West Indian Cuisine minus the meat, Kelly’s Hotspot, Gouyave

Food Shopping

Food shopping is an altogether more exasperating experience which requires flexibility, patience and careful planning. Owing to importation and a lack of competition, food shopping in Grenada is very expensive. To give you some idea of the cost, eating out at mid-range restaurants (the cost of restaurants is similar to western prices) every night would amount to roughly the same price as a weekly shop. Sadly, eating at restaurants is an immensely calorific affair and we’re not guaranteed the same balance of nutrition as knowing what goes into our food by cooking it ourselves. Buying local food is your best bet if you want to keep your supermarket bill under control. Now’s the time to take full advantage of exotic fruit at a fraction of what it would probably cost at home. Buying native produce also helps to support the local economy and you’ll find fruit and vegetable stalls dotted at various places around the island. Consider choosing papayas, watermelon and mangoes instead of raspberries, apples or grapes. Callaloo offers a wonderful alternative to broccoli with four times the amount of calcium and twice the amount of iron, and Yam and Breadfruit are rich in vitamin c, fibre and potassium. Local fruit and veg are usually marked in the supermarket with a label that simply states it is local. In some supermarkets local produce can be identified as occupying a section of its own.

As most foods are imported, there’s a good chance if you take a complex recipe to the supermarket, that half the ingredients will be unavailable or sold out. You’ll need to exercise a great deal of flexibility in this respect. If the supermarket runs out of tofu, substitute it with Indonesian Tempeh. If there aren’t any green peppers, use red. Truth is, unless your recipe is incredibly simple, chances are you won’t be able to follow it to a tee in Grenada.

DSC_0242Grenada’s tropical climate is ideal for growing certain fruit and veg

An unconventional option would be to grow your own fruit and vegetables if you have the space. The house we’ve chosen to move into this weekend has coconut palms and cherry, papaya and mango trees growing in the garden. If you don’t mind the prospect of greeting a few iguanas as you do your gardening, Grenada’s rich soil and sunny climate offer very feasible conditions for growing your own organic supplies.

In contrast to Western countries, food shopping as a veggie in Grenada is more expensive than following a diet that includes meat and fish. Once you consider that vegetarian food generally features a wider selection of ingredients as way of compensating for the lack of meat and fish, this is hardly surprising. I suspect that if you have chosen to be vegetarian, your personal choices for following this lifestyle are likely to outweigh the disadvantages of any additional costs. This is a good thing, as Grenada is welcoming you with open arms…