Huddersfield's love affair with the curry continues.
We Yorkshire folk never seem to tire of our popadoms, pickles and pilau rice. If a couple of new restaurants open in the town, you can guarantee that one will be an Indian.
At the last count there were more than 30 restaurants serving food from the sub continent - not including take-aways.
The Indian cuisine and its surroundings have come a long way since the early blow-your-socks-off dishes served in tin foil containers from earthy establishments back in the 1970s.
Restaurateurs are upping their game – much to the benefit of the local curryphile.
The latest kid on the block is Cardamon Green, housed in former offices opposite Soccer City in Waterloo. (For the linguists among you, the fragrant spice can also be spelled cardamon or even cardamum).
Step through the door and you could be in a trendy Asian restaurant somewhere off Regent Street in London; the interior is impressive.
Gone is the red flock wallpaper and 3D images of sparkly elephants and waterfalls, so beloved of the pioneer currymen.
Their descendants have gone for an altogether more state-of-the-art look. East meets West with an open plan interior, chic dining furniture, broad wood plank floors and - the jewel in the crown - a spotless open kitchen covering the entire length of the back wall.
It was occupied by half a dozen or more chefs and assistants all wearing matching chequerboard livery. A far cry indeed from the early days, even the giant aquarium looked smart.
One advantage flock wallpaper and carpets have over the contemporary olive-green and white plasterwork is that they absorb sound, and Cardamom Green was rather noisy last Friday evening. But hey, the atmosphere was buzzing and, judging by its popularity, this was the place to be to kick off the weekend. It would be churlish of me to complain.
We selected a quiet and well-made wooden table near the kitchen and were fascinated to watch the chefs working at the flaming barbecue grill and large stainless steel tandoori oven.
Prices are a little higher than you get at a more traditional Indian restaurant, would the food be worth a bit extra?
We ordered chingri, large prawns flame-cooked on the open grill with a tomato and honey sauce (£7.95), and yes, they were worth the money. It was a small portion but the smoky flavour from the flames burst through. We realised that this was not your ordinary run-of-the-mill Indian restaurant.
I ordered machili (£3.95), cod fillet fried in Asian spices. Cod is fairly bland fish, and although this did not have a strong flavour, it was tender and succulent, cooked to perfection.
The menu includes all the old favourites, but focuses on the restaurant’s specialities, (around £8 to £9 for mains) most of which were new to us seasoned curry eaters.
We ordered two dishes from this list along with a side dish of tarka daal (lentils) – a benchmark in any Indian. The lentils were al dente and although they did not have the smoky flavour I so like, they had a real depth of flavour.
The kukkar makhani was Punjabi-style chicken tikka from the tandoori oven simmered in cream and yoghurt with a honey and cashew nut sauce. It was very sweet and creamy, too sweet for some perhaps, but we couldn’t get enough of it; it was addictive. If you like a rich korma, you’ll love this.
The cubes of lean barbecued duck in the harash nawabi dish were also a novelty; again very tender. The individual flavours of the lentils, tomatoes capsicum and tomatoes were also identifiable, rather than one homogenous sauce.
Everything was beautifully presented on contemporary white crockery, the popadom pickles arrived in bijou dishes on a slate.
They need more waiters, we had to ask three times for the bill, but the ones we had were pleasant and hard working.
VERDICT: A cut above your average Indian, inventive cuisine in tasteful and buzzy - if somewhat noisy – surroundings. Recommended.