Urban Spice Box is born out of a deep-rooted love for Punjabi cuisine and a desire to share its rich flavours with the world.
The journey began in Punjab, India, where Vick, the founder and head chef, grew up in his father’s dhaba, serving the foodies of Punjab with authentic Punjabi street food. It was in this bustling and vibrant environment that Vick developed a passion for creating delicious dishes and mastering the intricate flavours of Punjabi cuisine. Meanwhile, Satnam – Vicks wife, a proud Brummie and a true artisan, brought an urban touch to the menu, infusing the traditional Punjabi flavours with a modern and innovative twist. Together, they embarked on a culinary adventure, combining their expertise to bring a unique blend of tradition and urban flair to the Midlands.
You recently won the award for Street Food Operator of the Year at the Midlands Food, Drink & Hospitality Awards. What does this mean to you?
It’s an absolute dream come true for us! Bringing the authentic flavours of India to the UK has been an incredible adventure, and to see our efforts acknowledged and celebrated is beyond rewarding. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to share the vibrant street food experiences we grew up with in India with our amazing customers here in the UK. The award is a testament to the power of food in bringing people together and breaking down cultural barriers. It’s a reminder that no matter where we come from food has the ability to create a sense of unity. We are overjoyed to be a part of the diverse and dynamic food scene in the UK, where our Indian heritage meets the open-mindedness and enthusiasm of British food lovers. To receive such recognition fuels our passion and inspires us to continue pushing boundaries, exploring new culinary horizons, and creating unforgettable experiences for our customers.
Talking about the diverse food scene in the UK, what do you love about working in this industry?
There’s so many things I love but the creativity and passion for a start! Working in the street food industry allows for creativity and the opportunity to showcase your culinary skills. You can experiment with flavours, create unique dishes, and put your own twist on traditional recipes. It’s a chance to express your passion for food and share it with others. One of the other joys is the opportunity to meet new people every day. You get to interact with customers, hear their stories, and build connections. It’s a chance to create a sense of community and make a positive impact on people’s lives through the joy of food. In that sense, I love the fact that we can get immediate feedback. You can see their reactions, hear their compliments, and make adjustments on the spot. It provides a sense of satisfaction and the opportunity to continuously improve and refine your offerings. Finally, getting the opportunity to trade at weddings, festivals, and events adds a special touch to the street food experience. You get to be a part of people’s celebrations, contribute to their memorable moments, and create lasting memories for both yourself and your customers.
How have you navigated the rising cost in food prices and inflation in general as a business?
We’ve carefully evaluated our pricing strategy to ensure it aligns with the rising costs. We’ve adjusted prices – keeping a balance between maintaining profit and remaining competitive – but we’ve also implemented cost control measures throughout our operations to help identify areas where expenses can be reduced. These include energy-saving initiatives, streamlining processes, and minimising waste.
What dishes would you recommend new customers try?
I’d definitely present them with a taster menu comprised of three dishes from each category (veggie, vegan, and meat). Firstly I’d serve up our Chilli Paneer, which combines the flavours of Indian paneer (cottage cheese) with a spicy and tangy sauce. The result is a deliciously spicy and savoury dish with a perfect balance of textures. Chilli paneer is loved by both vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, making it a versatile and crowd-pleasing choice for any taster menu. Secondly, our Chicken Tikka Masala is a classic and beloved dish that would be a fantastic addition to a taster menu. It’s a flavourful and creamy curry dish that features tender pieces of marinated chicken (tikka) cooked in a rich tomato-based sauce. The sauce is typically made with a blend of aromatic spices, including cumin, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala, along with cream or yoghurt to give it a creamy texture. Chicken tikka masala is often served in our naanwiches or ricebox making it a satisfying and delicious choice for any taster menu. Finally, our Chickpea and Spinach Curry – also known as Chole Palak – is a fantastic vegan dish that would be a wonderful addition to a taster menu. This flavourful curry combines the goodness of protein-rich chickpeas with spinach leaves. It’s a hearty and satisfying curry that is not only delicious but also packed with nutrients. Chole Palak can be enjoyed with rice, or naan bread, making it a versatile and flavourful choice for vegan food lovers.
Where are your favourite places to eat when you get a day off?
For us, there’s only one place to go to eat when we get a day off, it’s a wonderful tradition of ours to enjoy home-cooked soul food at my mom’s place. There’s something truly special about gathering with loved ones, sharing stories, and indulging in the flavours of traditional recipes that connects us to our roots. It’s a beautiful way to preserve and pass down cultural traditions while creating lasting memories. For us, those moments of happiness come in the form of an Aloo Chennai and Pooriyah with mango pickle and homemade yoghurt, which is basically a chickpea and potato curry served with fresh puffed fried bread – my mouth’s watering just talking about it!
Best advice you could pass on to anyone starting out?
Remember that cooking is a language of love. If you have a genuine passion for cooking, don’t ever give up. Keep pushing forward, experimenting, and honing your skills. Embrace the challenges and setbacks as opportunities for growth. With dedication and perseverance, you’ll continue to improve and create culinary masterpieces that will bring joy to others. So, if you really want it, work hard and keep that love for cooking alive and let it guide you on your journey to success.
Where do you see the business in 5 years’ time?
In the next five years our goal is to open additional units, expand our reach and share our passion for food with a wider audience. We have faith and trust in the journey ahead, knowing that with hard work and belief, we can overcome challenges and seize opportunities. Urban Spice Box was once just an idea in our minds, but through dedication and perseverance, we have brought it to life. We believe that having faith can inspire creativity, resilience, and a positive mindset, which are invaluable qualities for long-term success. As we continue on this exciting journey, we are committed to delivering exceptional culinary experiences and creating a lasting impact in the communities we serve.
Tell us your highlights of 2023 so far?
One of the most thrilling highlights for 2023 is the launch of our food truck, We’re finally able to take our mouthwatering cuisine on the road! We are beyond excited to bring our delectable dishes directly to different locations, making it even more convenient for our amazing customers to savour our flavours wherever they may be.
Finally, who’s your street food hero?
We admire Bare Bones Pizza, a family business that delivers quality street food from wood fired pizza to churros and also poutine. We are inspired by their success and longevity. The strong brand they have established in the street food industry has definitely fuelled our growth.