Guy Warner: Currying flavour

If you want a great curry, Cheltenham is the place to go

If you want a great curry, Cheltenham is the place to go - Credit: Archant

Our food & drink columnist celebrates the cosmopolitan taste of the Cotswolds

When you think of a typical Cotswold menu, what comes to mind? Gloucester Old Spot sausages, pedigree beef steak, chicken tikka masala... Woa, back up a minute – since when did curry become a Cotswold delicacy you may ask? Well, like the rest of the UK, there has been a quiet revolution taking place right here in the Cotswolds over the last 50 years with the result that you can now find some of the best curries in the UK on our doorstep. How very cosmopolitan our little corner of the country has become!

Of course, that’s not always been the case. For decades, the Indian takeaway was a slightly shabby affair – greasy pots of tikka masala collected from dubiously-decorated curry dens was about the best you could hope for. Not very Cotswolds at all. Fast forward to the 21st century, however, and it’s a completely different story. We’re in a new era, one that I call the currification of the Cotswolds and the result is rather wonderful.

If you want a great curry, Cheltenham is the place to go. The Curry Corner is a multi award-winning establishment in Cheltenham that featured on Channel 4’s ‘Gordon Ramsay The F Word Best Local Restaurant’ while chef, Shamsul Kori, was crowned Chef of the Year at this year’s Cotswold Life Food & Drink Awards. Relative newcomer, Prithvi, also in Cheltenham, was voted number one curry house in the UK by The Sun and is one of the few restaurants in the UK to hold a full star rating on TripAdvisor.

While Cheltenham may be the curry king of the Cotswolds there are also some cracking curries to be found at the local producer level. Hannan Hossain from Simply Your Choice catering in Painswick is booked out almost every weekend of the year by folk wanting his five-star curries for events, from large scale weddings to intimate dinner parties. The food is sourced locally and much of it prepared onsite for freshness – if you’ve tried one of Hassan’s prawn fritters or vegetable pakoras you’ll understand why his diary is so full!

Next time you’re at Stroud Farmers’ Market, seek out Saira Banu’s South Indian Savouries for authentic South Indian food with a local twist. Saira uses the influences of her home country, Bangladesh, as well as Pakistan and India to give her food its distinctive flavour, combining Asian spices with ingredients found at the market: her spinach and rhubarb curry, served with chana dahl, is a sell-out every week. Other curries include aubergine and potato, mixed vegetable and lentil and minced lamb, pea and potato.

Bringing curries even closer to home are The Cotswold Traiteur and Pegoty Hedge. Both producers make their chef-prepared ready meals using locally sourced ingredients for a spot on ‘takeaway’. Favourites such as Chicken Tikka Masala, Beef Madras, Goan Pork Curry or Prawn Dhansak are all on the menu from The Cotswold Traiteur while Pegoty Hedge offers Chicken Curry or Vegetable Curry made using their own special curry paste.

For someone like me, who could eat curry every day of the week, the curry craze hitting the Cotswolds is a great thing. I love the fact that curry and the Cotswolds have collided to give us a really inspirational take on traditional foods – and who knows, in the next 50 years when I’m asked to name a typical local dish, Cotswold Curry might well be my first answer!