Review by Absolute Magazine Brighton curry

Having enjoyed a wealth of acclaim from a cooking at some of Brighton and Hove’s most revered Indian restaurants including the likes of Chilli Pickle and most recently, Head chefing at Curry Leaf Cafe, the extremely talented Gouranga Bera has well and truly earned the reputation of one of the city’s most well respected and skilled chefs.

Brighton Curry, which opened just four months ago, is Gouranga’s first solo venture, which boasts an unrivaled range of authentic and imaginative traditional and fusion dishes, celebrating the very best ingredients and healthy cooking with zero additives.This excited me for two reasons. Firstly; I love a good ruby, I love all the sumptuous dishes, intricate ingredients, and tongue-tickling flavors you will find in authentic Indian cuisine.

The second reason is that unfortunately my partner is not a fan of (what she perceives as ) spicy food so I rarely have the pleasure of enjoying it nowadays, and, having sampled Gouranga’s delicious cooking before on many occasions, I knew that if anyone can change her mind about Indian food, he can.

So I decided to surprise my wife with a trip to kemptown to experience what I already knew would be some of the best authentic Indian cooking around and some unique and exciting dishes that would surely alter her perception and ultimately allow me to start enjoying it regularly again myself!

So we arrive at Brighton Curry for dinner and upon viewing the menu, which display such an exciting array of delicious sounding starters, curries and sides with recipes from regions across India, even my partner had no trouble finding dishes that tempted her. I myself wanted to try everything, so in the interest of journalism, and knowing full well I would be taking much of it home in doggy bags, I ordered every starter on the menu, as well as three different curries for us to share.

The restaurant itself is absolutely beautiful and full of character, with bright orange walls adorned with gorgeous images and trinkets. omfortable yet stylish and colorful brown and orange seats, and a vibrant teal coloured bench which stretches three of the walls surround lovely hardwood tables. A rustic looking bar area overlooks it all, which leads onto the kitchen area where you can see Gouranga and his team hard at work preparing our food, producing sizzling sounds and exciting aromas that make me drool with anticipation.

The restaurant fills quickly with customers while we wait, many of whom are greeted familiarly by our waiter who explains that already they are getting a lot of regular returning customers, which is a very good sign for things to come.

I have met Gouranga before on a couple of occasions and I see a familiar smile as he recognises me when he brings out the first few dishes. We have a good chat about how things have been going before he heads back to the kitchen for more. We have a fair few to get through so I will get straight on with it. Lets begin with the prettiest of the starters, Dahi Padpdi Chaat – crispy fried flour crackers topped with yoghurt potato sev noodles tamarind chutney and passion fruit. Not only did they look beautiful, they tasted absolutely sublime with lots of delicate flavours and textures. The sweetness of the tamarind is calmed by the yoghurt and the zingy passion fruit really wakens the tastebuds. A cracking apettizer and pallette cleanser, as well as a wonderful way to start our adventure.

We decide to dig in the spinach and onion pakoras next. Biting into a crisp golden carapace of crunch reveals and the unexpectedly intensely oniony filling that is soothed beatifully when dipped in the accompanying mango and mint chutney. Once devoured we move onto the chilli cauliflower bites, perfectly fried in a light batter, melt in your melth morsels that have an intense sweet chilli kick for those who like it spicy! I could not get enough of them and somewhat surprisingly, neither could my partner, despite going a bit red in the face and getting through several glasses of water in the process.

In perfect contrast to the cauliflower bites was the Panjabi panner shashlik which had a lovely mild lightly spiced flavour that allowed the decadant butteryness of the panner to shine. Whereas the South-Indian fried chicken wings, billed as the hottest of all the starters are coated in a crisp batter containing lovely rich warming spices that do well to allow the flavour of the tender meat to still push through.

If I absolutely had to choose a favourite of all the starters, It would be a tough choice as they are all inredible! I would say it would be a toss up between Pudina lamb kebab, and Zafrani chicken tikka. The tandor grilled kebabs mixed with mint, garam masala, ginger and garlic had a wonderful aromatic flavour that blew me away. The sublimely tender chicken tikka thigh fillets were spiced to perfection. They tasted like they had been marinated for hours and were so succulent my tastebuds exploded with pleasure at every mouthful.

For mains we try Hariyali vegetable masala, Mangalore fish curry, and Kashmiri lamb harissa. All three were absurdly good! The fish curry came packed with plump juicy prawns and gorgeous seabass that flaked at the mere touch of my fork, the not overly spicy yet fragrant and colourful sauce really hit all the right notes, especially good when mopping it all up with some light and fluffy garlic naan.

The vegetable masala was just lovely, the aroma of the fragrant spinach and tomato sauce particularly pleasant and it tasted divine to boot. It was the lamb that stole the show however, the hottest and richest of the three dishes, slow cooking was certainly evident as the lamb melted away releasing the meats full flavour which went perfectly with the terrific sauce it was cooked in.

Thank you Gouranga for a wonderful evening at Brighton Curry! Considering the amount of dishes we tried we had very little left over to take home. A testement to your cooking! Especially so since you have won over my partner, who said she would love to return! Every dish we tried was consistently excellent, with a huge variety of bold exotic flavours and wonderful textures celebrating the finest engredients. On top of that you have created most colourful and vibrant spots in the city with a unique buzzing atmosphere that makes you want to stay for hours. We thoroughly recommend you try Brighton Curry and sample some of Gouranga’s delicious dishes for yourself!

Tony Shattell

Brighton Curry