Like fish and chips, curry is popular in the UK. In fact, the UK has adopted curry as a “national dish”, with more than 9,000 Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi restaurants, according to its National Curry Week website.
I love curry and I cook chicken and beef curry quite often. There are many varieties of curry powder available. Curry powders have different mixtures of herbs and spices; such as cinnamon, cardamom, poppy seed, turmeric, nutmeg, saffron, cumin, fennel, cloves, etc. Some are known to comprise of 20 different herbs and spices.
Curry has a strong distinctive smell that is spicy, earthy and highly aromatic. Generally, when you cook a curry, your neighbours will be able to smell it. For those who don’t like curry, it can be overpowering, perhaps even pungent. But for those who love curry, the aroma makes your mouth water with anticipation.
Budapest, like many other capital cities, offers a good variety of local and international cuisine. When it comes to Asian food, Chinese and Japanese cuisine seem to predominate. One cuisine that I miss dining out on is Indian. According to Trip Advisor, there are only 22 Indian restaurants in the whole of Budapest. Compare that to the city of Vienna with 37 and to London with 943 Indian restaurants. (5 times more population but 44 times more Indian restaurants.)
Curry House in Budapest is an Indian restaurant located on Horánszky utca 1 in district VIII . It opened on October 5th 2013 with owner Zulkarnain Saer Khan. I was invited to try out this new curry restaurant in Budapest. Being a big fan of curry, I couldn’t resist.
Curry House is a sophisticated restaurant decorated with a colour scheme of black, red, bronze and gold. The restaurant has high ceilings throughout, giving a great sense of space. Its large glass windows all along the side make the place bright and welcoming. On one end of the restaurant is a large colourful hand-painted mural, of an Indian lady playing a sitar with an expression of peace and tranquility. At the other end, there is a spacious area with a hexagonal Bajot table matched with Indian patchwork cushions. There are also various paintings, decorations and patterns on the restaurant walls, including a statue of Ganesh which adds to the general welcoming ambiance.
The menu of Curry House offers a wide selection of starters, specialities, tandoori kebabs, curries, naan breads, rice, international dishes, desserts and drinks. With such a great selection, I had difficulty choosing what I’d like to try. So I ended up trying a selection of different curry dishes. Of course, one cannot have curry without naan breads and rice. So complementing the curry dishes, I had the butter naan, plain naan and garlic naan, as well as basmati rice and biryani rice.
All the naan bread in Curry House is made the traditional way with a Tandoori Oven. It’s a cylindrical clay or metal oven, which Saer told me was specially ordered from London.
The service in Curry House was relaxed and quite laid back. During my visit to the restaurant, there were a few occasions when the chef himself had to come out from the kitchen to call for service. In such a charming and relaxing environment, it’s easy to see how the staff can succumb. I know I did.
All the dishes were served in beautiful traditional copper Indian dishes, which added to the charm and authenticity of the dinning experience. I started with a Lamb Rogan Josh and a Beef curry. The Lamb Rogan Josh had chunky pieces of lamb bathed in an aromatic curry sauce, served in a tall copper dish. The meat was tender and it didn’t have that strong gamy taste you find with roast lamb. The sauce was spicy, enough to break a sweat but not to numb your tongue. The beef curry was cooked with green pepper, tomato and onion, served on a flat dish. Again, it was a pretty spicy dish. The beef was nice and tender, it went well with the crunchy green pepper.
Saer offered a mango lassi, it’s a creamy sweet drink made from yogurt, water and mango pulp. This helped quench the fiery curry taste. This drink was absolutely delicious and you must try it. There are also other flavours available such as strawberry, banana and salted.
Butter chicken is a classic Indian dish which you cannot miss out on in an Indian restaurant. Curry House’s butter chicken was my favourite dish. It smells wonderfully buttery. The sauce was creamy and rich; it left a delicious mild sweet aftertaste in the mouth, making you want more.
I was introduced to an interesting Indian dish called Paneer Makhani (a cottage cheese and butter based dish). Paneer is a fresh cheese made by curdling heated milk with lemon juice, vinegar or any other food acid. It’s a common type of cheese used in traditional South Asian cuisine. Paneer Makhani has a sweet creamy buttery taste.
I was introduced to a vegetarian dish called Dal Palak. (Unfortunately, I didn’t take a photo of this dish so I can’t show you what it looks like.) Dal Palak is a curry dish cooked with a combination of spinach, dal (lentils) and garlic. The dish was yellowy green in colour and had a consistency of soup rather than the thick sauce you generally get with curry. Although the colour of this dish is not the most enticing, it’s actually very healthy for the body as it contains high levels of iron and fibre from the spinach, plus protein from the dal. Dal Palak at Curry House was a very light dish. I was told that this dish is usually eaten, towards the end of the main course, to help cleanse the palate.
The last main dish I tried was Prawn Goa Curry. Goan cuisine is rooted along India’s west coast, along the Arabian Sea. The main ingredients of Goan cuisine are seafood, coconut milk, rice and local spices. The Prawn Goa Curry I tried was red in colour. Although it looked spicy, it was actually quite mild. The prawns tasted fresh and had a nice rubbery skin texture. The juices from the prawns were a little mild and didn’t taste as if marinated before cooked. When eaten with the curry sauce, they were delicious.
For dessert, I had Gulab Jamun, a fried milk flour sugar dough soaked in sugar syrup. The dough was juicy and soft, complementing the all so sweet sugar syrup.
My Verdict: The restaurant is welcoming and beautifully decorated. And if you have not try curry before then Curry House in Budapest would be the place to go. With so many different types of curry dishes to choose from, you will definitely find one that you’ll like.