Indian food: Britons now look for the 'real thing'

Tastes have become more discerning and increasing travel by Britons to India has led to better knowledge and appreciation of the variety of Indian cuisine.

There are less takers now for so-called 'Indian' dishes invented in Britain such as 'Madras Curry'.

"People these days do know the difference between genuine Indian food and westernised versions. Tastes are getting more sophisticated," says Manchester-based chef Mohammed Naeem, whose Michelin-rated Dilli restaurant in Altrincham promises authentic Indian cuisine.

Naeem, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, launched his restaurant by introducing dishes from his home area around Lucknow, and has since expanded the range to less well known cuisines from Chettinad, Mangalore, Pondicherry, Andhra, Konkan and street food from Mumbai.

Most 'Indian' restaurants in Britain are owned and run by people of Bangladesh-origin, whose tastes do not always find favour with connoisseurs.

However, lovers of Indian food are well aware of the many pockets and towns where the real thing can be had, such as Wembley and Southall in London, Leicester, Birmingham and Bradford.

The growing popularity of the authentic taste of Indian food is also due to the expansion of well-known Indian restaurant chains such as Chennai Dosa, Sarvana Bhavan and Woodlands in London and other parts of Britain.

According to Naeem, the old 'invented' dishes which do not exist in India just don't wash any more among a new generation of more savvy British customers.

He has launched a new menu with "food you have never tasted…dishes you have probably never heard of."

It was six years ago that Dilli led a new wave of Indian restaurants that turned away from 'fake' Asian dishes, served up the 'real taste of India' and raised the cuisine out of the curry houses and into award-winning fine dining.

Likewise, a new Awadh India restaurant opened in Bradford recently, claiming to be "the first restaurant in the UK bringing you regional Indian food."

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