Bromley curry house introducing the true taste of India
PUBLISHED: 13:13 12 October 2012
"The misconception of curry is that it has to have gravy or sauce all over it. People who think they are eating Indian food are usually eating something from Bangladesh, which is cooked in a big pot."
There is excitement in the voice of Manpreet Dhingra, owner of Indian restaurant Cinnamon Culture, who is eager to introduce a different kind of dining to Bromley.
Inside a converted pub, the restaurant in Plaistow Lane has been open for slightly more than a year and offers a menu that may surprise many just looking for a late-night scoff.
Pheasant, rabbit, buffalo and ostrich have all been prepared in the restaurant’s kitchen – a departure from the curry we have all become accustomed to in this country.
Manpreet said: “What I call the ‘takeaway market’ is very fixed. They want their tikka, masala and they have a certain budget to pay for it.
“These places have hundreds of dishes on the menu but if you look at the top restaurants they control the quality by limiting the menu.
“You won’t find this kind of cuisine anywhere else around here. People know we do things differently and that is why they come here – it’s a destination for them.”
Formerly the curry capital of the UK, Bromley is saturated with curry houses though Cinnamon Culture are confident their top three National Curry Week dishes put them a cut above.
Head chef Suresh Pillai, 33, has worked in some of the finest restaurants, including the UK’s first curry house, Veeraswamy in Picadilly.
From a small fishing island in southern India, Suresh relocated to Bromley after he was approached by Manpreet to run his kitchen.
He has been working hard to constantly update the menu and is using his knowledge of fish to submit a dish he hopes will scoop awards for National Curry Week.
“Good curry is a basic taste from the blend of spices. People are generally ready to experiment when they come here and the biggest compliment I can ask for is a clean plate,” said Suresh.
His spotless kitchen is laden with a variety of colourful spices that he handles delicately before pan-frying meat amid bursts of flames.
To witness the kitchen in full swing demonstrates the gulf between real Indian cuisine and what Brits demand.
Manpreet, whose CV boasts of time spent working for Hilton hotels in central London and America, believes the problem stems from the 1960s.
He said: “When curry was introduced, people wanted to make it sweet and mild, so English people would eat it.
“Chicken tikka is in India, but for tikka masala they made a colouring and sweetened it. That’s not a dish we would serve at home.
“The same can be said for a korma, they are also not meant to be sweet. We had that on a special menu recently and people were surprised at the taste. I had to tell them that’s how it is supposed to taste.”
For the majority, curry will remain something that comes in a plastic tub and is plonked on a plate in front of a mid-week soap opera.
But Manpreet and Suresh hope to have started a trend in Bromley that will cause a change to the curry scene in the one-time UK curry capital.