This year must surely be the ‘Year of the Indian Restaurant’ – in Brighton and Hove at least. I’ve reviewed more eateries from the subcontinent in the first five months of 2023 than any other type of cuisine. I’m certainly not complaining, as I adore Indian food.
I have to say I was particularly happy when an email popped up in my in-box from Brighton Curry, a recently opened restaurant on Upper St James Street. Headed up by Rakesh ‘Raj’ Kumar, Gouranga Bera and Renku Singh, I’d already heard very positive feedback from a number of respected hospitality industry colleagues.
The trio have excellent provenance in Brighton having worked behind-the-scenes for many years at – naming no names – some of the city’s most renowned Indian restaurants. Hence, I already had a pretty decent idea of what to expect in terms of both the food and the passion for service.
There’s no doubt that the restaurant interior is a bit chaotic with a colourful and eclectic decor. I wouldn’t say that there’s a particularly cohesive design scheme but it’s definitely fun – it’s not every venue that proudly displays feather dreamcatchers next to strings of seashells. In my mind at least, the branding of the business – whether the website, promotional flyer or window graphics – is a bit naive and doesn’t reflect the quality of the offering in any way at all; it looks a bit ‘back street’ rather than ‘dining destination’ but perhaps that’s a calculated part of the charm?
The menu isn’t huge – seven starters, seven mains, a handful of chef’s specials plus a choice of rices and breads. What you aren’t particularly going to see are ‘English’-style curries so no Madras or Vindaloo cliches. Talented head chef Gouranga is inspired by traditional dishes from across India that are presented in his own unique contemporary style.
My guests and I popped in for a lunch, so a platter of starters seemed the order of the day. Freshly-made, lightly fried spinach and onion pakoras were joined by next-level chicken tikka pieces – succulent and charred to perfection and most definitely entering my top ten list of food I’ve eaten this year. The deep fried chilli cauliflower was also a stand-out dish transforming – what in my mind is a rather dull vegetable – into a dish that made me want to order seconds.
Our mains were a cornucopia of smells, flavours and textures. I didn’t particularly want to share my Kashmiri lamb curry – a dish in which the chilli heat creeps up on you – but my guests put the squeeze on me so sharing – yet again – was the order of the day. Perfect paneer, moist chicken and a very impressive slightly sweet dish of coconut, sea bass and shrimp… for once, hardly a word of conversation around the table as everyone tucked in.
It would be amiss not to mention Gouranga’s naan breads, of which he is particularly proud of. Rather than the traditional use of yoghurt, he uses coconut milk meaning they are vegan. With a crispy outside and soft fluffy inside, the consensus around the table was ‘best naan ever’. High praise indeed.
For those with dietaries, there is a lot of choice on the menu including vegetarian and vegan dishes, with the main allergens of dairy, gluten and nuts all clearly identified.
Naan breads and roasted meats are prepared in a traditional tandoor oven, which makes all the difference but – unfortunately – isn’t the case in all of Brighton’s Indian restaurants.
Price-wise this is incredibly pocket-friendly food for very generous portions. Starters are in the £6-8 range with mains sitting around £10-12. Sides are about £3 but there’s more than enough food so share breads and rice. A well-considered wine list starts at £20 per bottle.
If you order food directly from their website for collection then there’s 15% off when you spend £20 or more. For the more lazy amongst us, then home delivery is available via Uber Eats.
Brighton Curry is a very strong addition not only to Brighton’s Indian dining offering but also the wider quality restaurant scene. The dishes are faultless: beautifully tasting and presented at a price that’s a steal. These boys not only deserve to go far – with food like this they most definitely will go far.
Brighton Curry, 40-42 Upper St James Street, Brighton BN2 1JN
01273 526 910 • www.brightoncurry.co.uk