Feature: Enjoying the spice of life in Newham for National Curry Week
- Credit: Archant
It’s National Curry Week, so reporter Anna Silverman set off to sample some of Newham’s finest flavours, from massaman duck and prawn zaika to Indian chickpea salad
Curry is one of Britain’s favourite foods, and it is certainly one of mine. Lucky, then, that East London is something of a national curry hotspot.
Armed with the perfect excuse, a week dedicated to celebrating the joys of all things spicy, I headed out to try a couple of local examples - strictly in the name of research, you understand.
First up was Samrat, a smart tandoori house in Barking Road, East Ham, that has been dishing up Indian and Bangladeshi fare for 15 years.
It must be doing something right, too, as it won the Archant food award in 2009. So I felt I was in safe hands.
I was right. I’d barely sat down before the table was covered with a mouth-watering array of dishes: King prawn Zaika, Lamb Chaati Naan, Kolapure Chicken, special Biriani rice, plain rice and an Indian chickpea salad.
It was a feast fit for a whole family, and despite being known for my ability to polish off entire lasagnes in one sitting, finishing three curries on my own was going to be a challenge.
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I shot a pleading glance in the direction of Recorder photographer Steve but panic set in as he shook his head: “I’m an egg and chips man, me,” he said.
Each dish was hand-picked by the head chef, Shah Shohid Ali, and each was exquisite.
They all contained a “special secret spice”, apparently not to be found anywhere else in Newham. Try as I might I could not persuade Shah Shohid to divulge it.
He told me the most popular curry they serve is still Britain’s old favourite, Chicken Tikka Masala, and assured me each dish at the restaurant is made exactly how it would be in India.
The increased availability of exotic ingredients in British supermarkets has taken its toll on curry houses such as Samrat. But as far as Shah Shohid is concerned, National Curry Week is as good an opportunity as any to remind punters of the joys of eating out.
Having made a significant dent in the food and clutching goodie-bags brimming with leftovers. I left the aromas of Samrat behind me and set off in the direction of my next port of call: Busaba, a Thai restaurant in Westfield Stratford City.
Here I unashamedly sat down for my second feast of the afternoon, my Samrat goodie bag the only incriminating evidence I was curry-cheating on Busaba.
The head chef laid out a Massaman Duck Curry, a Thai Green Curry and an Aromatic Vegetable Curry while I discreetly nudged my bag of food under the table.
After a quick tutorial from chef Jum Sangil in how the chicken, lemon grass, turmeric and coconut is boiled in the wok, I decided it was high-time we cut to chase and tucked in.
It was deliciously rich and creamy and I only wished I had left a little more room.
Although Busaba offers a wide range of other Thai dishes, I wasn’t surprised to hear over 40 per cent of visitors opt for the sumptuous curries.
My foray into Newham’s curry scene had left me keen to try more. But I realised I had probably had enough for one day.
Perhaps it should be National Curry Week more often. Next I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for National Cake Week
Well someone’s got to do this job.
Read more: East Ham family opens up home to others