photograph by Tim Robison

Meherwan Irani grew up blending spices in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother. Like many families in India, they would go to the store for whole spices, then grind and mix them into their own blends, using unique recipes passed down through generations.

Today, Irani — the award-winning chef behind Asheville restaurant Chai Pani — continues this tradition at his store Spicewalla.

When you open the door, the heady scent of roasting cumin and coriander wraps around you. A rainbow of hand-packed tins filled with smoky-sweet powders, crisp seeds, and dry leaves line the shelves in front of violet walls, and the small storefront blends seamlessly into the factory, where staff members will roast, grind, and mix whatever you’d like, right on the spot.

Irani sells spice blends from around the world, including ones that reflect his family’s history — like his mother’s garam masala, a warm and aromatic winter spice blend — and his own concoctions used at Chai Pani. These spices not only make his cooking more vibrant, but they also help satisfy a new generation’s hunger for old traditions: Irani tracks down recipes in India and elsewhere so that they don’t disappear with the oldest generation.

829 Riverside Drive, Suite 110
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 417-7010

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Piper Anderson was one of Our State's fall 2018 editorial interns.