How much do people spend on a curry?

In a recent survey we asked: “How much do you expect to spend when you visit an Indian restaurant per person, including drinks?”

More than half of people (58%) said they’d be looking at over £25, while 24% were settling for a nice £21-24 and 16% just £16-£20. Some 2% reckon they can get out for a curry in a restaurant for under £15. Must be a fun night that one!

The Spice Card offers savings on curries, including on takeaways at many venues. You can get your Spice Card here.

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Liss, Hampshire (Madhuban)

Madhuban, Liss, Hampshire

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Ok, where’s this place?
It’s a village of about 6,000 people, about 20 miles north of Portsmouth.

What’s its Indian restaurant like?
It’s actually got two but Madhuban is the famous one.

Famous?
Absolutely, people travel from far and wide to eat here and the curry guru Pat Chapman raves about the place. He even named it as one of the top restaurants in the country in his Cobra Good Curry Guide.

Have you been here before?
Been here before? I came here the year it opened in 1987 and have been coming here whenever I’m in the area ever since.

Wow you must have seen some changes?
You bet. It was a 30-seater restaurant when it started and now it has 130 covers. It’s well designed, with a modern bar and waiting area and side-lit carvings of classical dancers (Bharat Natyam) and plants in the wall recesses. It was even packed on my last visit on a Wednesday night. It felt like everyone turned up at the same time which meant the service was a bit slow but it was still as friendly and warm as the first day I visited the restaurant.

And so to the food then?
The Railway Chicken and Egg Curry is a nod to the famous food found on the Indian railways. I’ve had it a few times. It’s thick with meat, vegetables and sauce, with a boiled egg in the middle. Rustic, just as it should be. The Chicken Tikka Darjeeling Masala is also highly recommended, with green tikka a great change (and very fresh tasting). According to the menu, the dish is in tribute to the garden in the Bangladeshi home of Lodue, the man behind the Madhuban. The Achari Chicken and Kashmiri Pilao (with lychees) was also devoured, as was the Madhuban Special Chicken, which  is a combination of the flavours of Bhoona, Korma and Tikka Masala.

What else is on the menu?
Maybe you should ask what isn’t on the menu! It’s one of the biggest menus I’ve every seen – and I don’t mean just the printed menu, which is a large-format eight-page masterpiece of information on dishes and spices. There are something like 150 menu options (I gave up counting after page three) and a promise to try to make anything that’s not on the menu if you ask!

The chefs must be superhuman.
They certainly do a top job with all those options. Everything on our table of eight was very good. The bill, including drinks, came to just over £160.

What’s the damage?
Drinks: Cobra (draught) £3.95 (large bottle) £4.75, white wine (large glass) £5, Lemonade (pint) £3.50, Diet Coke or Lime and soda (small) £2.50
Popadoms: 60p each and 60p each for pickles
Starter: didn’t have any
Mains: Zeera Prawn Masala £11.50, Chicken Tikka Darjeeling Masala, Achari Chicken, Railway Chicken and Egg Curry £10.95, Madhuban Special Chicken £10.50, Jungli Maas Chicken £9.95, Rogon Chicken £9.50
Sides: Sag Paneer, Bombay Aloo £3.95
Rice: Mushroom Rice, Kashmiri Pilao £3.50, Pilao Rice £2.95
Nan: Keema Nan £3.95, Peshwari Nan £2.95

Madhuban, 94 Station Road, Liss, Hampshire, GU33 7AQ.
Tel: +44 1730 893363 or +44 1730 894372.

Open
Monday to Thursday: 5.30pm–10.30pm.
Friday: 5.30pm–11.30pm.
Saturday: noon–2.30pm and 5.30pm–11.30pm.
Sunday: noon–2.30pm and 5.30pm–10.30pm.

Nu Delhi Lounge (Belfast)

Nu Delhi Lounge, Belfast

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From top left: Chicken Chilli Garlic, Punjabi Lamb Masala, Garlic Nan, Mushroom Rice.

 

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Tandoori King Prawn.

Where is this restaurant then?
It’s right in the heart of Belfast.

Isn’t that the place responsible for sinking the Titanic?
Well, not exactly, that was an iceberg, but this is where they built the ship. At the famous Harland and Wolff shipyard.

Shouldn’t that be infamous, considering the Titanic sank on its first trip?
Yes, the city does have a strange attraction to this sinking ship; there is even a Titanic Quarter in the city, although I think that’s the tourist office at work.

Did the prices at Nu Delhi sink you?
Very good. Yes, they were maybe a notch about the average for an Indian (or Punjabi, as the venue says) but certainly not too outrageous. The bill came to just over £55 for a shared starter, two mains, rice, nan and drinks.

I like a drink. What did you have?
A mango lassi and pint of draught Asahi.

Isn’t that Japanese?
You’re right. I was a little surprised because it’s the first time I’ve come across it on draught in an Indian restaurant, but it is clean and sharp and pairs very well with spicy food.

Make sense. It would be nice to have it at the bar before the meal.
It would indeed, especially as it’s such an attractive bar, with the red and white strip lighting and hanging globes adding a touch of Bollywood glitz. The decor overall is smart and modern, with dark wood tables, lots of reeds in pots and back-lit wall panels.

I suppose I should ask about the food?
About time, that’s what we there for, after all. The prawns in the Tandoori King Prawn starter really deserve the title of king because they were plump and deliciously spiced. No extra sauce needed there. The Chicken Chilli Garlic is certainly one for the garlic lovers and on reflection the Garlic Nan was a clove too far for the table. The nan itself was top notch and some of the freshest I’ve enjoyed outside of India. I was a bit surprised that the chicken came in a reddish, creamy sauce, not something I’ve come across with this dish before, but it worked well. What I really liked was that the texture of the other main, the Punjabi Lamb Masala, was different, as the chef used chopped rather than pureed onions. Too many restaurants use a one-fits-all sauce, so all the curries end up a bit samey.

Is that a word?
Probably not, but you know what I mean. Lots of restaurants have a big, long menu but when the curries come out they look and taste the same. Certainly not the case here.

Sounds as if you like Nu Delhi then?
I do indeed. It’s smart but you don’t feel as if you are on parade and it’s a lot better than your average High Street curry house but doesn’t whack the pocket for your pleasure.

What’s the damage?
Drinks: Asahi £4.75, Mango Lassi £3.50
Starter: King Prawn Tandoori £9.95
Mains: Chicken Chilli Garlicn £12.95, Punjabi Lamb Masala £12.95
Rice: Mushroom Rice £2.70
Nan: Garlic Nan £2.60

Nu Delhi Lounge, 25 Bruce Street, Belfast. Tel: +44 28 90244 747. Info@nudelhilounge.co.uk. Open Mon to Fri, noon–2pm and 5pm–11pm, Sat to Sun 5pm–11pm.

Curry tip 4

Do you like cooking Saag Aloo or Lamb Saag but hate chopping the spinach? Freeze a bag of baby spinach, then while it is still in the bag simply scrunch it up and it will snap into tiny pieces. No chopping needed and after a couple of minutes defrosting it’s all ready for a delicious spinach curry.

The world’s best curry

McCain’s, Goa, India

This is it. This is the best curry I have ever tastest.

From left: Chicken Kolhapuri, Mushroom rice, Vegetable Kolhapuri, nan
From left: Chicken Kolhapuri, Mushroom rice, Vegetable Kolhapuri, roti, washed down with a Kingfisher beer

The narrow-fronted McCain’s can be found wedged between bars and shops in the busy Tito’s Lane in Baga, north Goa. It’s so unassuming it would be easy to miss (one person who’s been visiting the area for years and was staying within metres of McCain’s had never heard of it). It’s a simple fast-food style joint with benches and stools along both walls, while at the back, behind a glass screen, hang skewers of bright red, marinated tandoori, while other staff beaver away over the tawas. It’s always packed.

Service is superb and no matter how full it seems to be a bit of space and seats appear magically as soon as the staff see you enter. Why a swankier restaurant has not snapped up the staff, some of whom have been here a fair while, is a mystery.

Kolhapuri is a dish that comes from the city of Kolhapur to the north of Goa in Maharashtra, so it’s not a local dish, but it’s certainly a favourite in this tiny Indian state. Most recipes include coconut and there is often a giant chilli glistening away in the sauce. It’s a rich, hot and vibrantly coloured dish that is hard to stop eating, even when your stomach has had enough.

The Chicken Kolhapuri (Rs 120) certainly can’t be faulted, with the perfectly cooked chunks of off-the-bone meat, but this is really best as a vegetable dish. People of a certain age would text their friends ‘OMG’ at the first mouthful. As hot as a Vindaloo, as moreish as Tikka Masala, and as fresh as a Balti, the Vegetable Kolhapuri (Rs 100)  is a dish that has it all. Packed with potato, cauliflower, carrots, beans and paneer, I was soon piling up huge spoonfuls of the tasty, onion and tomato gravy onto the Mushroom rice (Rs 100) and tucking in. If you’re a mopper-upper type of eater then rotis come in at Rs 10. Either way, you will eat it and want more.

* At the time of the visit £1 = Rs 85, $1 = Rs 54.

McCain’s Fast Food, Tito’s Lane, Baga, Goa 403 516, India. Tel: +91 9823 196848. Open: till 7am in season.

McCain’s snapshot

Food 🔟

Decor 3⃣

Value 🔟

Atmosphere (late weekday) 7⃣

Service and friendliness 9⃣

Dream curry trip!

This has to be a curry lover’s dream holiday… Fresh from Pat Chapman, author and general curry expert

Pat Chapman's Curry Club
Luxury Gourmet Tour to North India 2011

Dates
Thursday 10th March 2011 to Thursday 24th March 2011.

Overview
Pat Chapman first took a Gourmet Tour to India in 1983 and he has to date taken 16 tours there, the most recent being last year, 2009. There are no other tours like this one. The tour is led and managed by Pat and his wife Dominique. Between them they have over 50 years experience of India including over journeys there. The tour takes in all the sights you’d expect to see plus some not available to regular tourists. You will stay in the best hotels in each place. Being a Gourmet Tour, your food is way, way better that tourist buffets. All meals mentioned in this itinerary are included in the price. Scroll down for more on the food.

Number of people in group
Maximum 14, (minimum 10) plus Dominique & Pat Chapman – Tour Managers.

Destinations
Mumbai (1 night), Aurangabad (2 nights), Udaipur (3 nights), Kumbhalgarh (1 night), Shahpura(1 night), Jaipur (2 nights), Agra (2 nights), Delhi (2 nights). The destinations have been carefully chosen to show you the best of historic and modern India, from chaotic cities to peaceful villages. The Nine hotels are all the best at the chosen destination. (Four are rated in the World’s Top 50). Fiveare genuinely former palaces, while the remaining four are hotels built for the purpose. A number of rural royal-owned palaces have been restored offering greater luxury rooming choice in unusual places where there used not to be choice. Their  devoted owners, have invested their all to make their venues attractive They aren’t as well heeled as the Taj Group’s (four) or Oberoi’s (one) (nor are they as expensive). But they are equally unmissable, located in interesting rural locations … not to mention conveniently placed en route which makes our day to day transit mileages managable.

International flights
Heathrow to Mumbai outbound, Delhi to Heathrow inbound, both on the modern fleet of the acclaimed Jet Airways.

Domestic flights
Deliberately kept to the minimum possible, (one on Day 3 and two on Day 5).

Road transporation
Day 2 to 5 and Day 16
Local a/c coaches for road transfers and sightseeing.
Day 5 to 15
All travel from Udaipur to the end of the tour is by road in a modern Volvo 40 seat air-conditioned coach on exclusive hire to our group. It will be crewed by a highly qualified driver and an assistant. Most Indian coaches are relatively primitive, no power sterring, their air-conditioning may or may not work, windows are small, the seating is uncomfortable and luggage space limited. We will be travelling up to 6 hours on transits between destinations on several occasions, so we consider it to be an absolute essential that you travel at European comfort and standards. There are very few Volvo coaches in India, infact the few Indian companies that offer them for hire call them ‘hi-tech!’ We have booked one. So you can be sure of having plenty of space aboard. Each seat does a deep recline, and there are enough seats for you to spread out over two seats if you wish to do so.

The tour’s historical overview
North India has more historical monuments, than anywhere on earth, and not a moment too soon India has started to preserve them. Your route has been carefully chosen so that you see all the sights that the average India Tour group will see, plus a lot of sights they won’t see. We enter India via Bombay. Renamed Mumbai, it is India’s commercial centre. It’s typical of India with abject poverty in the slums and some housing costing more than that of Mayfair. Mumbai is and worth a look, but not a long stay, particulary when you find out how expensive it is. India is home to many religions and you will see several temples and mosques, including the ancent temples at Ellora. The subsequent tour will take you first into Mughal territory, then that of the Maharajas. You will visit no less that four of the six great emperors’ tombs including the most famous one of all, the Taj Mahal, and make comparisons between them. You’ll also visit their red forts and mosques. There were some 650 Maharajas until in 1965 they were stripped of their royal status. But as far as the people are concerend they still hold them in high respect, Many ex royals and their descendents are still around and to prevent the government comandering their palaces, they live in them, and unlike British stately homes, they let rooms on a hotel basis. You’ll meet some of them since you will stay in five former palaces and visit several more. The two of the richest are Udaipur and Jaipur. We return to Mughal lands with our stays in Agra and Delhi, where you will see some of what the British did for India.

Gourmet meals on the tour
24 Meals (excluding in-flight meals and 14 full breakfasts) The menus of all have been arranged with discussions between the chefs and Pat Chapman. We will be served 14 dinners and 10 lunches, 8 of which are at specialist outside restaurants and 16 of which are at our hotels of which 5 are held in private hotel locations exclusive to our group.

Meals on the tour
The regions and cities we visit all have distinctive cuisines, including Aurangabadi, Deccan, Maharashtran, Marathwadi, Mewari, Mughal, Mumbai and Rajasthani, and we have stipulated that our meals are cooked as accurately as possible. En route there are other fabulous culinary specialist cooks at venues where you will experience Gujarati, Lucknowi, south Indian and Tandoori cuisines and from India’s top chef, Modern Indian. In order to bring you as much culinary accuracy, variety and as little dish repetition as possible, Pat Chapman is in constant contact with all the Executive Chefs en route, many of whom he knows personally. They know he expects excellence and they rise to the challenge. They also know that the clients on Pat’s Gourmet Tours know Indian food, so do not expect the buffets proffered to the mass tourists. Twenty-four (10 lunches and 14 dinners) meals are provided on your 16 day holiday to north India. The are all specified in this itinerary and are included in the tour price, as are 14 full breakfasts and your in flight meals. All will give you ample portions, so most of the lunches are light and/or self-service and all the dinners are waiter-served allowing you to control your portions.

Four chef cooking demonstrations
Chefs are busy people and they don’t do demos for the masses.  You will meet four chefs, demonstrating four completely different food styles, in Mumbai, Udaipur, Jaisamand and Agra.

Excursions
Morning or afternoon city tours of Mumbai (Bombay), Aurangabad, Udaipur, Jaipur, Agra and Delhi. Full day tour to Jaisamand Lake, Rajasthan. Visits to four other key destinations: Dera Mera, Fatepjur Sikri, Bharatpur and Sikandra. Three Jeep excursions, two elephant rides and two boat trips.

Guide
On every excursion and city tour we engage the services of a fully licensed Guide. (It will be the same Guide acoompanying the coach from Udaipur to Delhi). Her/his expertise will be invaluable, as (s)he answers your local questions and fills us in on India’s economics, history and ecology.

Attention to detail
We hope we have thought of everything… it’s those little extra touches which count. Things like, cool water on the coach, fruit and flowers in your room, full moon at the Taj Mahal, the Elephant Festival, sound & light show, Holi Festival.

Cricket World Cup
No other country on earth worships cricket more than India and to prove it the cricket World Cup is in full swing during your March 2011 holiday, with the finals day on 2 April. And this is immediately followed by the world’s top players competing in India’s premier league, the IPL.  You will be able to follow the World Cup on your room TV.  India and England are in group B and these are the days on which they play.
6th March 2011  –  India v Ireland – Bengaluru
6th March 2011  –  England v South Africa – Chennai (Madras)
9th March 2011  –  India v Netherlands
11th March 2011  –  Bangladesh v England – Chittagong
12th March 2011 –   India v South Africa – Nagpur
17th March 2011  –  England v West Indies – Chennai (Madras)
20th March 2011  –  India v West Indies – Chennai (Madras)
23rd March 2011  –  Quarter Finals – Dhaka, Colombo, Ahmadebad
24th March 2011  –  Quarter Finals
25th March 2011  –  Quarter Finals
26th March 2011  –  Quarter Finals
29th March 2011  –  Semi Finals – Colombo
30th March 2011  –  Semi Finals – Mohali
2nd April 2011  –  Final – Mumbai (Bombay)

Tour extension
We have some lovely extension trips. Perhaps you would like to go to Goa to relax, read and rest, please let us know.

Tour price
£5,995 per person (sharing a twin or double room).

Full details