IT’S almost three years since Bradford restaurant Prashad vied for glory on Gordon Ramsay’s Best Restaurants.
While it was pipped to the top spot by a Michelin starred Italian in Bristol the vegetarian curry house won high praise from the famous chef, who dubbed its food “extraordinary”.
The success of the restaurant since its 15 minutes of fame has now seen it move to larger more salubrious premises just minutes from Huddersfield.
But have the owners let all the celebrity exposure go to their heads? In a word, no.
The only mention of the controversial chef is in the description of a chickpea curry, apparently his favourite.
While they’ve moved on from a converted laundrette they’re still housed in relatively modest former pub in Drighlington – an all copper bar top and a nice set of upmarket dining chairs the only sign of their improved fortunes.
But let’s deal with the elephant in the room.
I know what you’re thinking: why trek 10 miles to a vegetarian Indian restaurant when there’s dozens of meat selling curry houses across HD postcodes?
You’ll just have to trust me. This is the taste of ‘Real India’ and there’s nothing else like it round here.
I had my doubts but once you dig into the starters you realise the fact there’s no Chicken Tikka Massala or Lamb Bhuna on the menu is a non-issue. The lack of meat is irrelevant once you taste the food.
The freshness of the ingredients is obvious and the fragrant herbs and delicate spices provide a complex array of flavours, some of them new to even the most experienced curry lover.
Indeed, there are things on the menu here that you’ve probably never come across before like their eye-catching main course, Mysore Dosa.
The traditional south Indian dish is basically a large savoury crepe with a sweet coconut chilli pate layer inside. It’s served with a spicy potato and onion curry, a bowl of lentil soup and a cooling side of coconut chutney.
The sight of this almost footlong crispy pancake arriving at your table is a guaranteed head turner among diners and something you’re likely to remember forever.
The other thing that strikes you is the crispness of the dishes is such a contrast to many curry houses where the main courses are often swimming in ghee.
The unusual main courses may be something to behold but the Gujarati inspired starters should be more familiar looking to lovers of onion bhajis and pakoras.
But take nothing for granted, these carefully constructed balls and packages of mashed and layered vegetables aren’t found anywhere else.
Working your way through a tasting platter, as we did, you’re amazed at how many different ways there are to present seemingly banal root vegetables and lentils, even the crushed pea dip is so delicious you find yourself spooning it straight into your mouth.
The platter evokes thoughts of Asian street food and indeed a section of the menu is marked ‘Roadside Snacks’ – perhaps in tribute to the influence of the chefs’ homeland.
The menu genuinely shakes up to your pre-determined prejudices of vegetarian food and your ideas about Indian food. Even the poppadom experience offers something different to your run-of-the-mill curry house.
The crispy discs are that little bit lighter and have more spice than the norm and the pickle tray is a delight.
It’s frankly awe-inspiring how much variety you can whip up without using a single bit of meat. But it’s the flavours that really sparkle on your palette that you remember. It’s like discovering a new genre of food for the first time – so exciting. Service is prompt and friendly and there’s a decent-sized car park and a comfy little waiting area.
If that’s not enough to convince you then note this. They sell decent real ale, do signature cocktails with or without booze, and most of the mains are under a tenner.
It’s no surprise the chefs have stated their ambition is to become Michelin starred.
If I was you I’d get down there as soon as ... before they start charging Michelin star prices!