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in search of curry like you'd get in jolly old england

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a british pal is wondering where to get indian or pakastani curries that are typical of what's served in england. any bay area brits out there want to weigh in? near berkeley would be great!


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  1. I'm a British transplant, and Kabana in Berkeley at University and San Pablo is the best Pakistani food I've had on the other side of the bay. Cheers !

    2 Replies
    1. re: osho

      Kabana's curry tends to be swimming in oil. Is that the British style?

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Curry swimming in oil is available at Shalimar. Kabana's style is much closer to the real deal. And after a few pints of bitter .... :-)

    2. i thought my friend said something about the curries being more creamy or something but i'm not sure...she did say that there was something distinct about indian food in england that she was hoping to find here. osho, how specifically does kabana's food remind you of indian food in england?

      1 Reply
      1. re: peony

        Most "curry houses" in London are run by people of Bangladeshi origin. They do not believe in serving food with a layer of oil, and the flavours are more distinct. Melanie has alluded to the creaminess, which is a feature of Moghlai cooking, very distinct from the run-of-the-mill curry house in Blighty.

      2. What I think you're seeking iis creamy, ghee-laden Bangladeshi style curry, if that helps local hounds zone in.

          1. re: peony

            >thanks for clarifying!
            nicely punned.

            was it waverly root who said "france is divided into 3 regions: oil, butter, fat" [pace julius caesar]?

            i wonder if there is a comparable generalization for india. anyway, in additon to ghee, you
            might see more mustard oil.

            anybody seen any poppy seed dishes in indian restaurants around here?
            i just had a relly, really good, "creamy" silk gourd-poppy seed curry [jhinga-posto,
            for bengali speakers] but it was due to my mother. i dont remember cafe dhaka
            down south making any "posto" dishes ... which seems odd to me.

            BTW, I left a link to an article about sylhet/london restaurants at:

            1. re: psb

              Thank you SO much for posting that link!!!!! You have no idea how often I crave my mother's cooking and haven't been able to find any South Asian restaurants that serve specifically Bangladeshi food.

              If anyone can find mishti doi (sweet yogurt), please do let me know. The only place I've found anything close to the traditional was in Jackson Heights, NY and unfortunately they had added food coloring to mimic the pinkish hue the yogurt gets from the earthenware bowls it is usually made in.

              And, personal question for psb - are you bengali?

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  I'm fairly new to CH and can't begin to express how thoroughly impressed I am by how dedicated people on this site are to finding great food. I would have never have guessed that someone would organize an event around Bengali food because although there is a decent-sized population in the Bay area, I would not expect there to be enough of a demand for shorshay ilish and the like beyond said population.

                  You guys are spectacular and I am heading over there first chance I get. Thank you!

                  p.s. That doi did not look right at all.

                  1. re: adrienne156

                    We've been on a hunt for regional South Asian food for a few years now trying to break out of generic "North Indian", "South Indian", or Pakistani food. Please do remember to post when you have a chance to try Cafe Dhaka or any other finds. And, yes, our Bengali-in-residence said the mishti doi was artificially colored. I liked it, claimed the leftover portion.

                  2. re: Melanie Wong

                    I thought there was a Bengali restaurant near Polk, no? I seem to remember a chowdown or something with Melanie a few years ago, I think during some marathon Indian food tasting? Can't remember the name...

                    1. re: chaddict

                      Amazing what search will do: Indian Aroma.

                  3. re: adrienne156

                    >If anyone can find mishti doi (sweet yogurt)
                    there is some discussion of doi in general and mishti doi in particular
                    elsewhere in that cafe dhaka thread.

                    >And, personal question for psb - are you bengali?
                    yes, although i dont like rosogolla or ilish maach.


              1. My British coworker from Manchester absolutely loves Tandoor Kitchen on Telegraph, 1 block south of Dwight. I've only been once and thought it was decent.

                1. ok, if anyone is still reading this i called my friend to get more "clarification" (that was quite a good pun i made earlier, wish it'd been intentional!) and she said she is looking for a fairly bright orange chicken tikka masala or chicken korma and that she thinks of it as being more creamy than oily. she calls it british-style curry and says it is what you get pretty much everywhere. given this, any recommended spots? since i haven't eaten these curries in england (or did enough years ago that i don't remember them) i don't know if they are different from your average chicken tikka masala here. if someone feels knowledgeable on this please weigh in!

                  thanks again!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: peony

                    I've had a couple of tikka masalas in England and didn't find them particularly different from what we have here. Certainly there can be a flood of responses about favorite chicken tikkas & kormas - is there a bay area neighborhood you'd like info on?

                    1. re: bbulkow

                      i think some south asian proprietors here try to make the CTM spicy ...
                      the cream and the spice together ends up tasting horrible ... to me.

                      some time ago i tried the CTM at Rotee at the end of the lower haigh
                      "strip", and they did it more or less right. i probably havent been there
                      in +1yr and of course other people may have different CTM expectations.

                      maybe you and you associate can try the Lahore Karahi Butter Chicken?
                      it's a decent value in terms of meat quantity, and if you dont like it you out
                      like $6. i wouldnt ask for that spicy [not a warning ... i just dont think spice
                      is appropriate for the dish].

                      BTW, many of the dishes here arent inherently oily ... sometimes the super cheep
                      places just make them that way. that might be more economics than a recipie.

                    2. re: peony

                      I'm from England and have been searching for something Chicken-Tikka-Masala-like since I arrived 5 years ago. The closest dish I have found that is as creamy and flavorful is the 'Kukhurako Ledo' from a Nepalese restaurant on Cortland Avenue in Bernal Heights. It's amazing!

                    3. Has anyone tried Bloomers? Pub and Cafe in the Edward II Bed and Breakfast- on Lombard

                      The owner and chef are from Gujarat region. The have some curries among typical English pub fare.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Lori SF

                        Odd, their web site doesn's mention the pub other than for drinks. They push Cafe Maritime...


                        1. re: chaddict

                          Maybe calling them-
                          Not on Lombard sorry-
                          3155 Scott St. at Lombard St., 415-922-3000.

                          1. re: Lori SF

                            Quick phone call, said they used to serve food in the pub but no more! Darn! I was kind of excited...

                            1. re: chaddict

                              sorry.. it sounded fun from what i read.

                          2. re: chaddict

                            If you are going to name your establishment after an English monarch,
                            Edward II is certainly a "interesting" choice.

                            Oh it looks like his "special friend" Hugh Despenser was voted
                            "worst briton of the 14th cent"

                        2. The chicken tikka masala at Tandoor Kitchen on Telegraph is Berkeley, a restaurant which was mentioned in an earlier post, is very creamy and a vivid orange in color and our favorite whenever we go there and clearly a favorite of many diners who frequent the place. It's best at night when it's cooked for dinner because at lunch time you may find dry pieces of chicken that were cooked tandoori style and placed in the creamy orange sauce in the $6.99 lunch special that includes chicken, rice and chick peas - all on one plate with a freshly cooked plain nan on the side. It's just not the same. Love their egglant and chickpea dishes and their bread is to die for. Adore the owner, Ali. He's a true gentleman. Prices are right there. Casual ambiance. A popular destination for many Berkeley students including Indians and Pakistanis. Food is "Halal" for Moslems.

                          1. Article may be of interest (on the famous dish Nihari):

                            1. I have to say i doubt you'll find anywhere that comes that close to a good curry from (for instance) The Asha on Bold Street Liverpool, or the City Balti house on Paradise Street. the best curry I had back home was in Wakefield, a small restraunt upstairs and they had the best lamb Madras I've ever come across.

                              As for the bay area I like India Palace (Alameda), Sabrina (Oakland), Breads of India is okay I suppose and the new kid on the block currently producing what I consider the best curries is Hawelli in Pinole. It's not like those in england but it is likely the best I've come across in America.

                              A couple to avoid are Lotus (San Rafael) the cream laden vindaloo and the bizzarre popadoms was enough for me, and Kennar Pena (or whatever)_ in Rockridge - another kind of odd attempt at making decent curry.

                              My pet peeve is vindaloo, its hot and spicy its that simple (speaking froma British pespective, not a tradtional one) a menu that lets you specify heat is just plain odd.

                              Other pet peeve is Indain lunch buffet's they are not for me and it seems if you order of the menu at lunch the food is way below par - this is why Hawelli is up high on my list, its new and they are still making dishes to order

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: rob133

                                While I've had very good curry in England (most recently on the "Curry Mile" in Manchester), I suspect most of it is heavily British-colonialized. Chicken Tikka Masala, in particular, is the Indian equivalent of General Tso's chicken: a dish made up to appeal to non-Indian tastes. In other words, saying that you can't find good curry in the US like you can in Britain is a little like saying you can't find good Chinese food in SF like the Chinese food in NY -- neither necessarily bears any relation to the "authentic" cuisine of the home region.

                                That said, I'm interested in hearing more about India Palace, since I live in Alameda but have never eaten there. What do you recommend?

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  I accept that British curry is not exactly traditional in the majority of cases, but I've never eaten a tika Masala in my life and I never would! Many of the dishes I've had in England (yes the curry mile in Manchester has some good places - and some pretty bad ones) are what I would consider Anglo versions of Indian food.

                                  Having made some (supposedly) authentic dishes (from cookbooks claiming their authenticity) I would say the versions of most dishes in the UK aren't exactly authentic, but since arriving in america I haven't had versions of Vindaloo, Madras that have got near the flavouring and quality what I got in the UK.

                                  I've had great Jal frezi's in the UK, really good Balti's (another purely English dish), and lots of others that i'm sure are not 'authentic' but I suppose what I'm saying is that the original poster wanted curry like you get in England, I don't think there is really anywhere I've come across that I would compare to that, a few are not bad but I personally don't think (for whatever reason) they are that close.

                                  One of my favourite dishes in the UK was from a place up the road from my home, the menu had an elaborate description of its origins (like Breads of India does) I remember doing some research on it all...it was completly bogus but the lamb and potato dish was so good - dishes like that don't exist over here, again in my opinion.

                                  However onto the India Palace, could someone else order the chicken chatt and then report back as to what that is all about - its the oddest dish i've ever had in my life! I still to the lamb vindaloo or the Karahi Gosht (the latter reminds me of a Baliti style dish from the UK, sort off). they do an onion salad that is a rip off, but it is so good I always end up ordering it anyway - it is red onion, cumin seeds and JAlepeno's - I love it and can't get enough of it but everytime I think that I get about 50c worth of ingredients for $3!

                                  The other dish I recently discovered is Zeera Aloo, think Indian roast potato - really tasty. this dish was bought as my search also continues for an American version of Bombay Potato's (another non authentic classic dish that I miss so much!!).

                              2. A lot of people here have experienced good BBQ, good delis, good NY Pizza etc
                                and are well aware those are lacking [not bad, just a weakness given the quality
                                in other areas] in the Yeah Area. However I've met a fair number of people here
                                who feel indian restaurants here are pretty good ("It tasted great, but was a little
                                greasy.") but have not been exposed to a place with really good indian restaurants,
                                so they cannot calibrate correctly ... of course there are a lot of good indian restaurants ...
                                if you are comparing to Pasand.

                                This is obviously not as true today as it was 20yrs ago ... with people being more
                                apt to travel, indian food having a higher profile [becoming a "standard option" rather
                                than an exotic one], more south asians in the area [perhaps one reason why places in
                                south bay strip malls near office parks are better than places in "cosmopolitan SF"] ...
                                but nevertheless, i think the local immigration patterns dont really bring the Balti

                                And the other side effect, as melanie observes above, is most people's conception
                                of indian food is a narrow one [dosa, vindaloo, tandoori, begun bhara, saag paneer,
                                ctm, cholle, chaat .... and maybe 10 more things] because of the limited menus here ...
                                contrast that to the chinese offereings ... hunan, yunan, mandarin, shanghainese, american-chinese, Szechuan, hotput, mulslim chinese, deem sum ... each with potentially
                                100item menus, chinese-only menus, and various other "off-piste" specials].

                                ok tnx.

                                1. The Chicken Tikka Masala at Mehfil (2nd and Folsom in SF) is very creamy.

                                  1. For creamy Chicken Tikka Masala try Rajah in the Haight.