Bowls of comfort food

Tasneem, Husayn and Shabbir Kanchwala with chicken manchow soup in the signature bread bowl. 196380_10 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Nothing revives you from winter’s chills more instantly than a steaming soup.

On a bracing day, The Soup Junction in the food court of Dandenong Market offers four healthy flavours of warm comfort food.

It’s served in a deceptively large bread bowl, which has proved the stall’s signature crockery.

It’s a neat no-washing-up solution that absorbs the juices, as well as being broken up and dipped during the meal.

Husband-and-wife owners Shabbir and Tasneem Kanchwala combine their Indian and Pakistani food backgrounds to hone the menu.

One favourite is the chicken manchow – a traditional Indian medley of pepper, stir-fried vegetables and a topping of crispy fried noodles.

It has a thicker body and spicier profile than a Chinese manchow, Tasneem says.

Also there’s the traditional lentil soup – a vegetarian option built on the roasty flavor of a thick dahl with ginger and garlic.

The other pleasing and peppery belly-warmers on offer are pumpkin and leek, and chicken sweet corn.

Formerly from Queensland, The Kanchwalas have taken a sharp career detour to set up their soup stall and a nearby chai stall at the market.

Shabbir was an IT professional, while Tasneem worked in health insurance. But they hail from a rich food heritage within their families.

Tasneem’s mother Nisreen, is also a creative businesswoman who works on combinations of Thai, Chinese, Indian and Pakistani flavours.

She suggested the chicken manchow soup as an Indo-Chinese option that is universally appealing.

“Both our mums are really good cooks,” Tasneem said. “They share their ideas on the flavours.”

In summer, The Soup Junction becomes a thriving juice bar. But when the cold winds bite, look for the cauldrons of quick warm relief.

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