The British curry house is undoubtedly one of the UK’s favourite dining hotspots. We all have our favourite local restaurants, a customary curry that wakes up our taste buds every time, and strong opinions on the all-important sides that complete the meal.
Open up a menu in a typical restaurant and you’ll be bombarded with choice, have the vital, “How much spice is enough spice?” conversation. Our other favourite talking points include, “What’s the best remedy for a burning mouth?” “How many starters should we get?” “Are we ordering poppadoms?” They’re all incredibly important questions for any curry lover.
Starters almost always include onion bhajis (known as pakora or bhajia in India but in Britain, they're bhajis), plus a form of samosa. The arguments for meat samosas vs. vegetarian divide opinions every time. The only reasonable solution is to ask for a portion of both and see which one runs out the fastest.
One unruly person typically orders a mixed grill platter designed to feed two people and polishes it off in five minutes by themselves. Surprise, surprise, they've run out of belly room by the time their lamb phall and four naans arrive. Standard.
An argument about how many naans you need if you’re ordering rice generally ensues. There is no right answer here, but when given the choice, we encourage you to order both.
Often overlooked, vegetarian dishes are the hidden gems at the back of the menu. A good curry house will typically offer up five or more vegetarian dishes, labelled as sides. We reckon they’re the most underrated items on the menu.
Of course, the tikka masala and balti dishes might be old British classics featuring our favourite meat or seafood options but remember, the vegetarian dishes are specialities in themselves. They’re usually combinations of ingredients traditionally found in home-style cookery, brought together in the same way they've always been made in South Asia. They can be cooked rapidly or cooked slowly, delicately spiced with little or no sauce, or drenched in aromatic, sweet and smoky spices. The beauty is in their simplicity.
Our favourite veggie dishes from Northern India include aloo gobi (potatoes cooked with cauliflower), daal makhani (creamy, slow-cooked black lentils), saag paneer (greens and cottage cheese).
Without further ado, we present you with Food Network's round up of 21 UK curry house dishes - ranked from worst to best. Will you agree with our number one?