The Curry House      UK Curry Scene

Tamarind retains its Michelin star
26th January 2003
Tamarind, an Indian restaurant in London's Mayfair, has been awarded a coveted Michelin star for the third successive year.

Tamarind opened in 1995 and won one of the two first ever Michelin stars for Indian restaurants in 2001. A new executive chef, Alfred Prasad, joined the restaurant in the summer of 2002 and, at 28 years old, has earned the honour of being the youngest Indian chef to have achieved Michelin status.

Alfred Prasad came over from India to join Tamarind. He was formerly chef at the Bukhara and the Dum-Pukht restaurants in Delhi but the move to Tamarind is the one which has brought him the greatest recognition. He is justly proud of his Michelin star and his Indian heritage and explains that "Indian food and culture is a vast yet immediate source of inspiration to my cuisine. Its diversity, mostly still unexplored, contributes to innovative ideas".

Rajesh Suri
Rajesh Suri
General Manager
         Michelin stars are awarded to the restaurant as much as the chef so the management of the restaurant also play a major role in winning and, vitally, keeping the award. The general manager at Tamarind is Rajesh Suri and he worked closely with chef Alfred Prasad to develop the award winning menu. He told us "At Tamarind we pride ourselves on introducing guests to the delights, sophistication and variation of Indian cuisine within a refined and relaxed environment. We are honoured and delighted to be awarded the prestigious Michelin star for the third year".

If you are keen to know what's on the menu at Tamarind I can tell you that one of chef Alfred Prasad's signature dishes is Kekda Salad - a warm salad of crabmeat tossed with mustard seeds, ginger and curry leaves topped with a spicy shrimp mouse. Main meals are pretty evenly divided between kebabs, cooked in the traditional Tandoor oven, and curries. Kebabs include the exotic sounding Dhuae Ki Machchi - monkfish and swordfish marinated in mustard, green chilli and lime-leaf. If you want an example of one of the new curries on the menu then how about Achari Saag Gosht - lamb cooked with five-spice mix and spinach.

the view from The Curry House

I am delighted that Tamarind has gained a Michelin star for the 3rd year running. I recently had the good fortune to attend the launch of book by master chef and broadcaster Sanjeev Kapoor (review coming soon) held at Tamarind so I can personally vouch for the quality of the food and service and the elegance of the decor.

Yes, I know, that by normal curry house standards Tamarind is pretty expensive. The Achari Saag Gosht mentioned above, for example, will set you back Pounds Sterling14.50 . But Tamarind is not your normal curry house. Restaurants like Tamarind are in a different league and, as the Michelin star testifies, are successfully competing with the best restaurants in the country.

There are 2 reasons why I am so pleased with Tamarind's award.

Firstly, the recognition of excellence by an independent body like the Michelin guide cocks a snook at the doubters who think that ethnic food can never compete with the best French cooking.

Secondly, the success of top London restaurants like Tamarind has a knock-on effect for south Asian restaurants around the country. It is very clear to me that we are witnessing a differentiation of Asian restaurants into 3 tiers just as happened with Italian restaurants some years ago. The bedrock of the scene is the regular high street curry house (and long may they reign). In the middle there is the new wave of restaurants offering regional specialities with fresh ingredients and light airy decor (excellent for a more up-market evening out). And at the top there are restaurants like Tamarind offering Indian haute cuisine at its very best (ideal for a celebratory meal or impressing your best clients).

Things are looking good for spicy food lovers in the UK. Well done Alfred Prasad and Rajesh Suri.

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© 2003 David W Smith