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Curry is one of the most popular dishes in the United Kingdom - and funnily enough it's pretty popular in the Indian subcontinent - but there's a serious decision facing every curry fan. Which of the millions of curry houses in the world offer the best Indian culinary experience?
To answer this worryingly important question, we've decided to compile a list of recommended curry houses throughout the world. If you have a suggestion to add to this list, why not start a new conversation below?
The table is alphabetical, with the country shown first and then the city or town name.
Please note that this list was compiled in 1999, and that some of the establishments and recommended dishes named below may no longer be available for the discerning curry-phile to sample. We suggest that you phone ahead to check that the establishment is still trading before making any special journey.
Bombay by Night, Melbourne, Victoria
Reason for recommendation: Food is fantastic.
Recommended dish: Lamb Saag Spinach Curry; the sauce is an evil green colour but it tastes great.
Indian Temptation, Tuggerah, New South Wales
Reason for recommendation: Although its food is ordinary, it does win big points for the large sign outside which reads 'Get It India!'. This, when spoken in an Australian accent, sounds like 'Get It In To You!', which is to say 'Eat That Food!'. It's a great joke.
Recommended dish: Who cares, just 'Get It India!'.
Indian Flavour, Bay & Dundas Streets, Toronto
Reason for recommendation: Unfortunately, I have not found any adequate curry houses in Toronto. However I have eaten here, and needless to say, I survived the experience.
Recommended dish: If I recall, they have tandoori and regional dishes.
Other comments: It is quite clean and reasonably priced, and located in a shopping mall.
The Tandoori, Hohe Strasse, Düsseldorf
Reason for recommendation: Despite the Germans' general avoidance of spicy food, this is a very good Indian restaurant.
Recommended dish: Channa Masala
Other comments: At lunchtimes, they sell their food in the basement of Karschhaus
The Eastern Eye, Bath
Reason for recommendation: Wonderful food and a lovely room in which to eat - none of your flock wallpaper here!
Cartwright Hotel, Bradford, Yorkshire
Reason for recommendation: While not a 'curry house' in the normal sense, this Sikh-run Hotel serves quite possibly the finest of all Indian dishes in Bradford. All meals are cooked fresh, so be prepared for a wait... but the wait is punctuated by a nice selection of titbits to whet your appetite for the main thing.
Other comments: They also serve a wide selection of cold beers, the atmosphere is perfect and the setting salubrious. Fantastic!
K2, Bradford, Yorkshire
Reason for recommendation: This is a small, basic, Kashmiri establishment but has found its way into Egon Ronay's Guide. However, it is still only £5 to £6 for two courses (July 1999).
The Sabraaj, Bradford, Yorkshire
Reason for recommendation: Although I believe most of the curry houses in Bradford top anything I've had elsewhere, this is a kind of 'mobile home' affair opposite the Queens Hall which does the best King Prawn Dupiaza I've ever had.
Other comments: Bradford - the town is sheer curry heaven.
The Shensha, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire
Reason for recommendation: Great curry, open late at night.
Recommended dish: Chicken Tikka Masala or Chicken Ceylon
Other comments: Very hard to pronounce when drunk.
The Indus, Bath Road, Cheltenham
Reason for recommendation: Great food and good takeaways.
Recommended dish: The Chicken Pathia is great.
Shabuj Baghan, Osmaston Road, Derby
Reason for recommendation: Quite simply the best naan bread I've ever tasted.
Recommended dish: Anything with naan bread.
The Rajdoot, Downe, Kent
Reason for recommendation: A converted cottage in the country village of Downe, seats around 70 persons in quiet and spacious comfort.
Other comments: The food is good as well.
Bengal Brasserie, Egham, Surrey
Reason for recommendation: Excellent range of dishes, well cooked with fresh - I'll repeat that - fresh herbs and spices.
Other comments: The staff are superb, and are able to take even the worst-behaved reprobates well within their stride.
Taj Mahal, Feltham High St, Feltham, Middlesex
Reason for recommendation: Very friendly establishent, a jewel in a sea of mediocrity.
The Shahi Balti, Gloucester
Reason for recommendation: The reason this place is good is that it is small, it is close to the pubs and it has as many vegetarian dishes as it has meat ones.
Hayes Tandoori, Hayes, Middlesex
Reason for recommendation: Terrific, wide selection of delicious food.
Recommended dish: If I have to recommend something then it's their Shashlik dishes, their Butter Chicken, and many of their vegetable dishes.
Other comments: Just next to Hayes Station - so if you're ever at or near to Heathrow there's a direct link.
Alinoor Tandoori Balti House, Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead, Herts
Recommended dish: Their Chicken Bhuna is absolutely delicious, and I've yet to taste a better Bhuna elsewhere. Good chapatis as well.
Other comments: A tiny take-away nestling next door to the 'As You Like It' hairdresser's on St John's Road in Boxmoor.
Aziz Takeaway, Horsforth, Leeds
Reason for recommendation: This has to be one of the best takeaway-only curry houses in England (and I can vouch for this personally!). The staff are very friendly and will do any type of curry on the menu at any strength that you want.
Recommended dish: Their real forte has to be the good old Chicken Tikka Balti which is superb.
Other comments: They also do a good line in bhajis and do free delivery... What more could you ask for?
Saki Tandoori, Liss
Reason for recommendation: The atmosphere is lovely, and the gravity level is just about right to eat and sit normally.
Recommended dish: They make very good Balti, and I recommend their Chicken Korma. They make nice Onion Bhajis as well.
Aladin's, Brick Lane, London
Reason for recommendation: Brick Lane, the back street that runs from London's Whitechapel west towards the city, is reknowned for its curry houses, and you could happily choose any of them for a bargain bargi or top value vindaloo.
Recommended dish: Aladin's does a great balti, but asking for Turkish Delight will not endear you to the staff.
Other comments: Aladin's is easily picked out from the wealth of alternatives by the large but rather faded picture of Prince Charles stuck to the window. Apparently the great man, on a press-the-flesh visit to the East End, popped by Aladin's for a swift Chicken Tikka Masala, and raved about it afterwards on local radio. Although this doesn't quite amount to 'by Royal Appointment' - indeed you may think that Charlie knows as much about good curry as he knows about quantum mechanics - it does at least distract attention from the confusingly Arabian choice of restaurant name.
The Modhubon, Kensington, London
Reason for recommendation: Superb, absolutely superb. Excellent food at good prices in nice surroundings. I can recommend them without hesitation.
Other comments: Located at the top end of Pembridge Road, it's not one to miss if you're in Kensington.
The Kastoori, Tooting High Street, London SW17
Reason for recommendation: A vegetarian Indian restaurant: not for them the usual Tikka Masalas.
Recommended dish: Try one of a number of exotic and unusual curries like Green Banana curry, or a selection of tiny puffed up crisp Puris filled with vegetable mix and topped with raita (a yoghurt and mint dressing). You have to eat them immediately to keep the shell crisp, and in one bite, or the dressing runs down your chin...
The Bombay Restaurant, Magdalen Street, Norwich, Norfolk
Reason for recommendation: It is a good curry house but not outstanding. Its redeeming feature is the maze of alleys and back streets nearby for when you've left the curry house sharpish having left a measly tip.
Other comments: Magdalen Street is Norwich's 'Curry Mile', but is short by about 3/4 of a mile...
The Parkstone Tandoori, Ashley Road, Poole, Dorset
Reason for recommendation: Used to be absolutely excellent and is still very good.
Other comments: Perhaps surprisingly, given its conspicuous shortage of a multicultural community, the Bournemouth/Poole area is a fine place to have a curry.
The Saffron Tandoori Restaurant, Rayleigh, Essex
Reason for recommendation: Whilst on the exterior this place looks a little on the unauthentic side (no moulded columns, or dodgy Taj Mahal-shaped windows) the interior decor is very nice. Having done a crazy bit of work with small mirror bits the impression is given of a nice airy sort of place. The service is good, polite but casual.
Recommended dish: My favourite dish is the Vegetable Biriani: it's very filling and overall very pleasant. After the meal they give you orange segments, microwaved towel things (made from real fabric too!), and then mints and coffee. Prices are reasonable so long as king prawns or strange flaming things are not your cup of tea.
Other comments: The ususal range of lagers is available. The pickle tray comes with four pickles (mint, mango, salad, lime). Lime pickle is the nastiest ever (I don't like it myself) but this is great for getting your drunken friends to eat it.
The India Garden, Smallfield, Surrey
Reason for recommendation: The India Garden is Smallfield's one and only curry house. Actually it's the only restaurant of any kind, and can take the unwary visitor by surprise. It is definitely not what you would expect.
Recommended dish: According to its menu the India Garden specialises in 'traditional Indian Cuisine, orientated from thousands of years to date in its preparation.' The food is top notch, and the potions are generous. For instance, the onion bhajees are the size of footballs.
Other comments: Set back from the road, reaching the establishment itself requires a short trek along a winding tree lined and very potholed driveway. As you emerge into the car park first time visitors may find it difficult to take in the sight before them. The interior walls are painted marshmallow pink, while gold trimmings, and bright red curtains separate the dining room from the bar.
The Rajpoot, Shipley, Yorkshire
Reason for recommendation: A warm welcome and excellent value, though not licenced.
Recommended dish: Balti Kofta (meatballs of minced lamb, chilli and spices, in a rich tomato sauce with chunks of hardboiled egg).
Other comments: When I lived in Carlisle, on the Scottish border, I travelled the 100 miles to Shipley on more than one occasion just for a good curry. The rest of the universe certainly needs to be informed about the unique qualities of the Kashmiri/Punjabi cusine found in the Bradford area (which includes Shipley, Bingley etc. for the uninitiated reader). It is unlike anywhere else, and magnificent value. The Rajpoot typifies this, averaging £5 - £6 per head for two courses (1999 prices).
The Rawalpindi, Twickenham, Middlesex
Reason for recommendation: Very friendly Bangladeshi establishment.
Recommended dish: The Rawalpindi Special Curry (chicken or lamb) is my top tip, and can be customized to taste (e.g. by addition of extra chillies... yum).
Other comments: The best thing about this place is their home-made pickle. Regulars get to sample experimental batches containing variable proportions of chillis, limes etc. Note that there is not much veggie stuff, though.
The Twickenham Tandoori, Twickenham, Middlesex
Reason for recommendation: This is splendid all round but especially (though not exclusively) for lovers of hotter dishes.
Recommended dish: My favourite is the Garlic Murgh Chilli Masala, which succeeds in combining all my favourite components.
Other comments: Plenty of milder dishes and veggie offerings too.
Wimborne Tandoori Restaurant, Wimborne, Dorset
Reason for recommendation: One of the UK's greatest curry houses.
Recommended dish: The Chicken Madras with pilau rice is unbeatable.