A funny thing happens when I step into Masala 73: I feel as if I have arrived at an Indian courtyard somewhere. Not that I’ve been to India (yet, it’s on my list) but the Hindi graffiti-like writing on the walls, the bold colours, the smells… It’s a strong rendition of the picture I’ve sketched in my mind.
Masala 73 started as a food truck at Barcelona food markets such as Eat Street, Van Van & Palo Alto. Serving food worth forming a queue for. Things like vindaloo tacos on chapati bread for example (€9 for 2). A dish they have (thankfully) kept on the current menu.
Jordi Aros and Kuldeep Singh are the chefs (although the latter has taken over most of the day-to-day cooking). The two of them met while working together at a big restaurant group. Kuldeep Singh learned to cook Indian food from his grandmother while Jordi Aros fell in love with India and Indian food on his travels. “His heart is Indian.” Anjalina tells me at a pop-up Diwali brunch she has organized with Masala 73 “and he is a really good guy.” She makes a fist and brings it to her heart. “They both are. They care about what they are doing, the food they are making.”
It’s important that the stakeholders are in the kitchen. They will lead from there instead of from the P&O statement. And you aren’t likely to have the fluctuations in quality that inevitably happen when chefs move on.
This contemporary curry house serves up the most vibrant curries you are likely to encounter. In flavour and colour. The two chefs work in season, bringing in current cooking methods to lift traditional flavours. Whereas most Indian restaurant in Barcelona are variations on the colour brown, in interior decoration and food colour, at Masala 73 everything pops. A green vegetable curry (€10) is vivid in colour and flavour, a tangle of pickled red onion practically pulsating in its pinkness. The ochre butter chicken is plated like the pillars of the Stonehenge, each ‘pillar’ topped with a rondel of spicy red pepper, propping up a tuft of coriander in the middle, with thin rings of cream laced on top.
Pretty plates of food. An unfussy lighthearted interior. And then there is Isa. The server at Masala 73. She manages the room with ease and she will put you at ease.
All together it means that most visitors to Masala 73 return and they bring friends.