Sandringham Food & Spice Tour

I am inordinately lucky to work in the Sandringham precinct, which gives me opportunities to indulge in all the delicious offerings along the predominantly Indian restaurants along Sandringham Road. I recently discovered that the Sandringham Community Centre offers monthly Food & Spice tours to showcase the cluster of ethnic eateries in the neighbourhood.

The Sandringham Food & Spice tours are run by Lisa Loveday (cook, food writer and sustainability advocate) and Anita Totha (Sandringham Community Centre Manager). They take groups of 20 on the 2 hour food discovery tour. Sandringham has a very compact centre, so the walk is a very slow amble up one side of the street and down the other. These tours are hugely oversubscribed and you have to either be on a waiting list, else be very nimble on their Facebook site.

One thing you must, MUST NOT do before coming to the tour is to have lunch beforehand. I had a lunch date just prior, so I was completely unprepared for the sheer amount of food proffered. Yes, it’s a tasting trip, but as you make your way through the 6 restaurants, punctuated by stops at spice (and vegetable) stores, the tastings do quickly add up into one quite substantial meal.

Oh, and you should remember to load an SD card into your camera. Yup, I brought my completely useless camera and had to take all the photos using my many generations old iPhone, so please excuse the photo quality.

We started off at Mumbai Chaat, which specialises in chaat, – or street snacks. The sev puri was exceptional. Puri is the small fried flat bread, sev refers to the chickpea noodle pieces. In between, you get spiced potato, chopped onion, tangy tamarind chutney and fresh coriander. We also tasted dahi puri, – filled puri, and again very tasty. Mumbai Chaat was the first place I’d seen which sells curry by the kg.

At Bawarchi, we checked out their extensive lunch offerings and tasted their chicken tikka masala. A British friend told me that tikka masala is actually a British invention!

Then to Kyber Spice Market to peruse their extensive range of spices, dairy products (yoghurt, paneer and oddly, you can also get great European feta by the slab) and pickles.

Our next stop was at Jai Jalaram Khaman for their specialty of khaman and chutney. Hitesh, the owner, explained how the dish is made. Khaman is made from chickpea flour (also known as gram flour) and the delicious chutney was made with green chillies and coriander.

Next, it was off to Valley Fruit & vege market, where we saw a marvellous range of traditional vegetables used in Indian cooking, including fresh white and red turmeric.

At 7 Siri Taste of Sri Lanka, the owner Nandasiri introduced us to Sri Lanka cuisine, and we tasted their piping hot lamb roll, marvellously crispy on the outside, encasing savoury lamb and potato. The vegetarians in the group got an appam (fermented rice pancake).

But wait there’s more. As I was struggling to finish my last mouthful of tasty lamb roll, we were off to Top in Town Takeaways, where pottles of chicken biryani with raita was waiting for us. I took this home for a very delicious dinner.

Then it was to Top in Town Market where I picked up a couple cans of mango puree to make my own mango lassi, and gawked at the myriad of bright and colourful spices.

Our final stop was at Paradise, where we were treated to Afghani kebab (spiced chicken) and sweet carrot halwa for dessert.

This was exceptional value for $30 and a perfect way to spend an afternoon. I can’t wait to come back and re-visit all the restaurants.

To get on the next tour, contact Anita at Sandringham Community Centre, send them a message on their Facebook page or call 09-846 6649

10 thoughts on “Sandringham Food & Spice Tour

  1. dil8 says:

    Hi Carmella

    Thanks for covering this tour – had never heard of it and will definitely be signing up next year. Btw I'm a big fan of this blog – I follow a few and you're top of my NZ food bloggers list 🙂

    Keep up the good work!


  2. easyfoodhacks says:

    Hi NNP,

    That's a great question. I really liked the social aspect of the tour, and it was great having the owners at each restaurant talk to us about their food. We also had some foods that I would never have ordered on my own, – e.g. khaman and halwa. Admittedly it was a bit rushed, as there was a lot to cover within 2 hours. Plus I found out how easy it is to make mango lassi, – it wouldn't have occurred to me to buy a can of mango puree.

    Cheers, Cx

  3. Lisa Loveday says:

    Thanks for coming along to the spice tour and writing such an interesting blog about it. I'm sure if you can't get on the spice tour Carmella has done a great job introducing the wonderful flavours of our neighbourhood “Sandringham”

  4. jenny redhen says:

    Can you tale a doggie bag to collect the food you cant eat???
    Is this tour run privately for a profit or is it run as a community venture with profits going to some charitable purpose?

  5. easyfoodhacks says:

    I took some food home which I wasn't able to eat, however, some of the food was offered in a shared platter, which may be tricky to take home.
    While I believe the tours are run as a community venture, you would have to ask Anita, the Community Centre Manager on how the profits are used.

  6. Lisa Loveday says:

    Lisa here from Sandringham Food and Spice Tour. The tour is now a private business under the brand Eat Auckland but continues with the same ethos we started with showcasing Sandringham’s great food & supporting local businesses. A small portion of every tour fee is donated to charity ( currently Wise Women collective part of the Auckland Regional Migrant Trust) more information is available from our website just google eataucklandtours.

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