Shanik brings full Indian flavors to Seattle
When Meeru Dhalwala was a young girl she stank at school, she says — literally. The scent of spices permeated her hair and her clothes, the result of her mother’s habit of roasting the spices she used in her cooking.
Like mother, like daughter. Spices perfume the air at Shanik, the South Lake Union Indian restaurant Dhalwala debuted in December. Cumin. Coriander. Fenugreek. Cayenne. The intense aromas almost make your eyes sting. Just breathing whets the appetite.
Shanik (say Shah-nik) was one of the most anticipated restaurant openings in Seattle last year because its owners come from the much revered Vij’s and Rangoli in Vancouver, B.C. (Dhalwala is married to chef Vikram Vij, and Shanik is named after their daughter; her business partner, Oguz Istif, is the Canadian company’s COO.)
They were grateful for the buildup. “It was better than opening the doors and finding that no one was coming to the party,” Dhalwala says. But, as is her wont, she filled the kitchen with nonprofessional cooks whom she personally trains. They are hired for their “enthusiasm and willingness to learn,” but she admits it will take time to get everyone up to speed. “Our hands are moving slowly.”