The most popular Indian restaurant starter

In a recent survey we asked: “What’s your favourite starter in an Indian restaurant?”

Sheekh Kebab came out tops with 38% of voters plumping for the meaty favourite. Another 24% prefer the other old-school favourite, Samosas, the same number that would go for Prawn Puri. Surprisingly Onion Bhajis received just 14% of the votes. One person asked if he could have a beer instead… Of course, sir.

Spice Card holders can enjoy a 20% discount on curries, including on takeaways at many venues. Get your Spice Card here…

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How long would you wait for a Takeaway?

In a recent survey we asked “What’s a reasonable time to wait for a curry delivery on a Saturday night (assume you are a 10-minute drive away)?”

The overwhelming response was 40 minutes for 44% of our hungry curry lovers. Some 25% of people say 50 minutes is acceptable and the same would be happy to wait an hour. A rather impatient 7% think the order should be taken, cooked and driven the 10-minute drive in just 30 minutes. Perhaps they don’t like their chicken cooked?

Spice Card holders can enjoy a 20% discount on curries, including on takeaways at many venues. Get your Spice Card here…

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Let me present the Taste of India

Taste of India, Brough, Humberside

It’s not often the presentation of a takeaway is the first thing to strike you. But the Taste of India has superb menus, with an easy-to read layout and loads of silver printing (got to love it), the waiting area is pleasant (comfy couches and you can watch the cooking going on in the back), then, when the food is opened up at home you see the chef has added a nice presentation touch with the tomatoes in the corner and a sprinkle of fresh coriander on top. Presentation is not the deal breaker, I’ll admit, but the food is top-notch; the Keema Raj (£6.90) was deliciously meaty and with plenty of potatoes, just how I like it. And the Chicken Biryani (£6.90) also got the thumbs up.

The service was very friendly and this clearly attracts people from all over the local area judging from the chats as people caught up with news while waiting. You’d be hard-pressed not to find something you like as this is one of the most extensive menus I’ve seen. All the old-school classics are available (Chicken Madras £4.90), along with Tandoori dishes (full chicken £9.50), Biryanis, Baltis (prawn £6.20), Jalfrazis (beef £6.20) but there are also nan kebab meals (nan, meat and salad from £5.90), Passanda, Rossoon, Shanaz, Rezalla, and Koriah dishes, Balti Massalas, as well as large range of specials and the usual range of sides, breads and rices. The lime pickle tax was 70p for a small pot.

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Parking: a few spaces in the drive through area right outside.
Delivery: for orders of £7.50 or more (charge applies).
Specials: set meal specials.
Beer while you’re waiting: the Red Hawk pub is a few minutes walk away.
Waiting time: was about 25 minutes from the time of order.

Taste of India, 57c Welton Road, Brough, Humberside, HU15 1AB. Tel: 01482 668406. Open: Sun–Thur 4.30pm–10.30pm, Fri–Sat 4.30pm–11pm.

Scores on the tandoors

Food 7⃣

Waiting area 7⃣

Value 7⃣

Service and friendliness 8⃣

Lucky curry dip

Mirchi, London, E14

Ah, what to do when you collect your takeaway, only to open it up at home and discover they haven’t given you exactly what you ordered? In honesty it didn’t make too much difference when I discovered one of the dishes from Mirchi was a Chicken Dopiaza instead of a Chicken Rogan (both £5.25)  because I like them both. I certainly wasn’t going back. But on a previous visit I’d had an extra rice I hadn’t ordered (and I definitely wasn’t going back that time) so this was fast becoming a lucky-dip curry place for me.

The food at this good old neighbourhood curry place is pretty decent anyway. Tucked away in a little arcade just off the Westferry Road it wouldn’t be the easiest place to stumble across. And although there are quite a few cafeteria-style tables this looks more takeaway than restaurant.

Recommended dishes are Chicken Bemisal (at £6.20, a sort of extra hot Dansak thanks to the green chillies) and Chicken Tikka Green Chilli Bhuna (£6.20) a bit of a mouthful in all senses.

Parking: along Westferry Road.
Delivery: free within three miles for minimum orders of £10.
Specials: 10% discount on collected takeaway orders over £10 (excluding set meals).
Beer while you’re waiting: The Tooke is a few metres away.
Waiting time: was about 15-20 minutes from the time of order.

Mirchi, 7 The Quarterdeck (off Westferry Road), Poplar, London, E14 8SH. Tel: 020 7515 7171. Open: Sun-Thurs 6pm-11.30pm, Fri-Sat 5.30pm-midnight.

Mirchi snapshot

Food 6⃣

Waiting area 5⃣

Value 6⃣

Service and friendliness 5⃣

Takeaway time

Chondona, Liphook, Hampshire

It says a lot about our times that the village of Liphook has more curry outlets than pubs (at least for now as one of them is being renovated after a fire). Chondona is the old favourite, having been here for years and it is the only one in the village itself (the other two, a Nepalese and a takeaway are in the new bit further down the old A3).

It advertises itself as serving contemporary Bangladeshi cuisine, although it serves the usual range of dishes from all the old-school favourites to tandoori and everything in between.

The front part of the restaurant was full (there is a side overflow area as well) early on a Saturday night and from what I saw the takeaway side of the business is thriving as well. People collecting their food can either stand at the small bar or take a seat at a table that has been set aside for them near the bar. It’s a perfectly pleasant place to have a draught Kingfisher or bottle of Bud (£2.05) but is maybe a bit too close to those dining and might make some a bit uncomfortable. It’s never nice to feel like you’re gate crashing someone’s big night out, them all dressed up and you with overcoat and scarf and a bottled beer to while away the time. Yes, yes, I know I could ring up and order in advance but I never do. Imagine – horror – if it was ready when I arrived? Then I wouldn’t have an excuse for ordering a beer…

The potato in the Aloo Gobi (£2.55) was a bit over-cooked and crumbly but the Chicken Rogan (£4.95) was delicious, with the amount of tomato spot on (i.e. loads of it) and, joy oh joy, the chicken was not in those over-perfect cubes that some restaurants insist on dishing up. There, in the tasty thick sauce and coated in the juicy toms were great big piece of chicken, not uniform, and not looking processed. I mopped it up with a Keema nan (£1.95).

Parking: large car park at Hungry Horse pub opposite or a smaller one at the back.
Delivery: free within six miles for minimum orders of £15 (last orders 10pm).
Specials: 10% discount on collected takeaway orders over £10.
Beer while you’re waiting: Chondona is a fully licensed restaurant or the Hungry Horse pub is opposite.
Waiting time: was about 15-20 minutes from the time of order.

Chondona, 15 The Square, Liphook, Hampshire, GU30 7AB. Tel: 01428 724201 or 722095. Open: daily noon–2p.30m, 6pm–11.30pm.

Chondona snapshot

Food 6⃣

Waiting area 4⃣

Value 8⃣

Service and friendliness 8⃣

Sons of curry sons

Curry Royal Tandoori, London, SE10

Deep in darkest east Greenwich as you head towards Woolwich there is a takeaway place that has been there since 1978. Still owned by the same man (his grandson was serving) and operating out of the same place, it must be doing something right.

“We have generations of the same family eating with us,” I am told. “Sons of the sons eat with us as they grow up.”

Let’s be honest, this area is not for everyone late at night and the place looks like it could do with a spruce up. But the staff are friendly if you collect, and if it’s just a delivery you’re after it’s really only the food that matters anyway.

The place will certainly be tough to beat on value, with even most of the specials (Makni Chicken, Meat Chilly Piazy, Jamal-E) coming in at just £5.95. Classic dishes are £4.50 for chicken, £4.95 for lamb and prawn, while boiled and standard pilau rice are both under £2.

Chicken Bombay (£4.50) is a hybrid dish, medium in strength, with potato, whole tomato and boiled egg. Very good it is too, especially with Bengal rice (£2.55) a dish that comes with fresh chilli and coriander. The Motor Pannir (£2.75) is a bit different from usual in that the cheese was mostly melted and not in cubes, to create that delicious, how shall I say, cheese goo? Wonder if it was on the menu in 1978?

Parking: on Woolwich Road.

Delivery: free on orders over £10 to SE3, SE7, SE10 and parts of SE8, SE9, SE18.

Specials: free papadom and onion salad with every order over £12 or vegetable side dish or a bottle of Coke on orders over £25. A 10 per cent discount on collections if you spend over £15.

Beer while you’re waiting: the Duchess is nearby. Who knows, with luck you might be able to get a bit of karaoke in while you wait…

Curry Royal Tandoori, 9 Woolwich Road, London, SE10 0RA. Tel: 020 8858 1384 or 020 8293 3610. Open: daily 5.30pm-midnight.

Curry Royal Tandoori snapshot

Food ① ② ③

Waiting area: ① ②

Value ① ② ③ ④ ⑤

Service and friendliness ① ② ③ ④

Unwrapping your curry

King of Curry (Medina), London, SE10

I like the menu at King of Curry (the name was changed because Medina, the previous name, is Islam’s second holiest city and offended Muslims. The Medina sign still remains). It offers straightforward, no-nonsense takeaway choices, which you’d expect from a place run by a chef.

But look a bit deeper and you’ll find a couple of speciality gems for the times when an old-school favourite just won’t do. Grilled Trout (£8.95), Salmon Tikka Masala (£8.95), Rupchanda Fish (£9.95) and Sardine Bhaji (£5.75) should keep you fish lovers happy.

But it’s the Kings Special Stuffed Chicken (£8.95) that headlines for the chef, which the menu proudly announces, has featured on the BBC London News. Basically large pieces of breast (sealed together) have been stuffed with tasty red and green peppers, and mushrooms. It’s like unwrapping a curry present and the succulent chicken really works well as the wrapping paper. The dish is marinated and coated in a green mint and coriander sauce.

Parking: on side streets off Blackheath Road.

Delivery: free on orders over £12.50 (menu doesn’t specify a distance).

Specials: free Bombay Aloo side dish with orders over £20, free nan and veg dish with orders over £30 and free nan, side dish and bottle of drink with orders over £50.

Beer while you’re waiting: the Graduate, a good old local boozer is opposite.

King of Curry, 106 Blackheath Road, London, SE10 8DA. Tel: 020 8692 2423 or 020 8964 2396. Open: daily 5pm-11pm.

King of Curry snapshot

Food ① ② ③ ④

Waiting area: ① ②

Value ① ② ③ ④

Service and friendliness ① ② ③ ④

Pumpkin up the curry

Green Chillies, London, SE10

Green Chillies is a classic takeaway: no airs and graces but good-to-honest curries, friendly service and exceptional value.

There are numerous specials worth a mention. Pumpkin Bhaji (£2.95) is an unusual side dish with the vegetable served in strips and lightly spiced. This should be ordered with something extra spicy such as a Chicken Jalfrezi (£6.45). There is also Honey Khany (lamb £6.65), another very mild dish of cashew nuts, sultanas and ground cashew nuts in a sauce that contains honey. Again, the mildness should probably be offset with side dish with a kick such as a Vegetable Curry (£2.45) and maybe mopped up with a Hot n Spicy nan (£2.05). Cheesy Chicken (£7.45) a dish of tikka chicken in a bhuna sauce and covered in cheese, is also worth a try.

But it’s the traditional dishes where Green Chillies really comes into its own with sauces deliciously textured and cooked in the perfect amount of oil. The grid display in the excellent small-sized menu makes it easy to choose from all the classics and all are offered with veg, chicken, chicken tikka, lamb, lamb tikka, prawn, fish or king prawn. Chicken Rogon (£4.25) and Prawn Dopiaza (£4.95) are recommended with Pilau rice (£1.95) and a chapati (£1.15)

Parking: on side streets off Blackheath Road.

Delivery: free on orders over £12 (menu doesn’t specify a distance).

Specials: free papadom and relish with every order. A 10 per cent discount for orders collected. Bombay Potato or Onion Bhaji on orders over £20 and a bottle of Coke on orders over £30. There is also a regulars’ card where you get a stamp every time you spend £12 and your sixth curry will be free.

Beer while you’re waiting: the Graduate, a good old local boozer is opposite.

Green Chillies, 110 Blackheath Road, SE10 8DA. Tel: 020 8469 1719 or 020 8691 8040. Open: daily 5.30pm-11pm.

Green Chillies snapshot

Food ① ② ③ ④

Waiting area: ① ②

Value ① ② ③ ④ ⑤

Service and friendliness ① ② ③ ④

They sell what?

Spice Grill, Greenwich, SE10

They do good fried chicken in the Spice Grill. In fact, that’s all I thought they did (along with pizzas and cans of Coke). But if can somehow resist chunks of chicken that have been soaked in hot fat and covered in breadcrumbs you’ll find a decent curry after 5.30pm. Just ask for the curry menu as you enjoy the English caff environment.

On it you’ll find some interesting dishes such as Courgette Prawns (£5.75) and Lal Kadoo (£3.95), a spicy dish made with diced pumpkin. Old-school favourites such as Madras start at a very well-priced £3.95 (chicken or lamb), rising to £6.50 (king prawn) with a few pennies more for dishes such as Methi and Pathia.

Pistachio Chicken (£5.50) is a creamy dish in the korma style but the pistachios give an stronger nutty taste than the almonds used in korma. And, joy, my new favourite, chillies in the creamy sauce. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should. If you can’t find it in your local just ask them or buy a korma and throw a few chillies into it. Cream with bite. Add to your takeaway some lemon rice (£2.20) and garlic nan (£1.75).

Beats fried chicken any day.

Parking: on-street parking along Trafalgar Road.
Delivery: free for minimum orders of £10.
Specials: 10% discount on takeaways colllected. Free side dish if you spend £15 and free bottle of Coke if you spend £20.
Beer while you’re waiting: Hardy’s, a good old local pub is opposite.

Spice Grill, 101 Trafalgar Road, London, SE10 9TS. Tel: 020 8293 5211 or 020 8858 4434. Open: curry menu daily 5.30pm–1am.

Spice Grill snapshot

Food ① ② ③

Waiting area  ①

Value ① ② ③ ④

Service and friendliness ① ② ③

Turning up the heat

Chirag, Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote

The way the chef cooked my Chicken Dopiaza (€7.50) in Chirag reminded me of dishes I’ve seen being cooked in India. The open kitchen makes it possible to marvel at how the ingredients are added to the high-heat pan so it seems as if they are flash cooked – although there was no rush here, the dish taking 20 minutes so it was certainly fresh.

This was a rich, and tasty dopiaza with a good amount of ‘double onions’ as the dish describes but not the overload you get in the British Indian restaurant (BIR) style of cooking most of us are used to. This had more depth and richness and the onions emerged in the dish rather than simply swamping it. Who hasn’t ordered a dopiaza and felt that it’s simply a curry with some onions tossed in at the end? Not here.

Add in the multi-coloured pilau rice (€2.95) which seems to be a favourite in these parts, and a chapatti (€1.50) and you’ve got a decent-priced takeaway to enjoy on your apartment balcony while looking at the sea.

Other: free popadum with the menu leaflet.

Delivery: free home delivery on orders over €30.

Beer while you’re waiting: Fully licensed if you want a beer here or there are loads of bars nearby.

Chirag, C/Roque Nublo, 15, 35510 Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote. Tel: +34 928 51 29 47.

Chirag snapshot

Food ① ② ③ ④

Waiting area  ① ②

Value ① ② ③ ④

Service and friendliness ① ② ③ ④