Going out for a curry is something of a customary tradition in the UK. Officially the nation’s favourite dish, you can find curry on menus in restaurants and curry houses up and down the country; but with so much choice and variety, it can sometimes be overwhelming knowing where to start. Do you go for your tried-and-tested chicken tikka masala, or do you excite your taste buds with something new? Of course, going for a curry can be hit or miss, largely depending on the establishment you choose. So here’s a brief guide to ensuring that you enjoy your meal:
There are certain things that you should look out for when choosing an Indian restaurant – or rather, certain alarm bells that should start ringing! One of these no-nos is a menu that offers an unbelievably long and varied choice of dishes, but describes them all in pretty much the same way. You know the kind – ones that offer British-designed dishes that you simply choose your choice of chicken, beef, lamb or prawn! It’s far better to opt for a restaurant that has a clearly-defined menu with dishes that all have their own unique flavour.
So what about some positive signs to look out for? It can be a good idea to opt for restaurants that are influenced by a specific state of India; India is such as vast and varied country that cuisines can differ from region to region, so often the ones focusing on a certain cuisine offer a more authentic culinary experience. Another food sign is a restaurant that has stood the test of time, perhaps being handed down through generations of the same family.
Now it comes to the question of what to order. Try to move away from your usual ‘safety net’ choices, and experience something new. If you’ve chosen a god restaurant, then you can’t really go wrong with whatever you order – try a regal-tasting Kashmiri rogan josh, a classic biryani, or a Keralan prawn curry with coconut. And don’t overlook the vegetarian dishes and street food-style sides.
We’ve asked how and what, so now let’s ask, ‘when?’ – when is the best time to have a curry? Many typical curry houses in the UK cater to the post-pub customer staggering in at 11pm, but this obviously isn’t the best time to truly appreciate the depths of flavour in your meal. An early evening meal will give your body time to digest the food, but why not try going at lunchtime? You’ll probably try something lighter than usual, and many restaurants offer special lunchtime deals or menus.
If you do decide to go in the evening, head to one of the more high-end Indian brasseries and restaurants in London. With luxe interiors, Raj-inspired furnishings, and refined cuisine, they’re miles away from your high-street curry house; so next time you go for a curry, why not treat yourself and indulge in a truly memorable and authentic experience, sampling some the best Indian foods with a modern influence?