TRADITIONAL Bangladeshi cuisine is the star of the show at the restaurant which has been crowned the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Curry House of the Year.
The team behind Spice Zone in Crossgates aim to give customers a taste of the food their eat at home - and it has made the restaurant in Penda’s Way a favourite among our readers.
It is a real family affair too with owner Syed Jaber Ahmed working alongside uncle Mo Ali and cousin Ripon Ali.
Mo Ali said: “We have the normal dishes which are popular across the country, like bhuna, vindaloo and madras, but basically we like to show customers the dishes we eat at home ourselves.
“The majority of the dishes are all the foods we eat, which we want customers to try. The English public have been eating curry for quite a long time now. They know what a good curry is.”
He said a particular favourite is the ghust khata masala - diced lamb with garlic, ginger, coriander, peppers and onions, served on a sizzler.
“It has an amazing array of flavours,” he said.
With the business approaching its seventh anniversary, Mr Ali said they were delighted it had won Curry House of the Year in the public vote, after two years of being placed in the top ten.
He said: “I think it’s amazing. It just shows whatever we have been doing over the last couple of years, we have been doing right. It shows we have put the customer first.
Coming in second place is Sylhety Balti in Leeds Road, Kippax.
Owner Bilal Uddin said the family-run restaurant uses organic vegetables, with some even grown in their back garden each summer.
He said the village setting of the restaurant meant they relied on repeat custom.
He said: “Ninety per cent of our customers we know by their first name.”
He said this relationship was so strong that one of their most popular dishes was the invention of a customer, Nicola Carter.
Mr Uddin said she always requested a curry with a tikka masala sauce but using karahi spices, so they added it to the menu and called it the ‘Carter Masala’.
The battle for third place was extremely close between Ruchee on Stainbeck Road, Chapel Allerton, and Tasty’s Karahi in Harehills.
It was Tasty’s Karahi restaurant which eventually edged ahead into third place. At this Roundhay Road restaurant, curry is the family business for the Rafiqs, who use cooking skills handed down by their grandmother.
Fahad Rafiq, who cooks alongside father Zarak, uncle Amar, brothers Zohaib, Waqaas and Waqaar and cousin Shahzaid, said it began 30 years ago as a small takeaway when he was a young child, just down the road from its current location.
The cooking skills were handed down by Fahad’s grandmother, Fazal, who originates from Pakistani Kashmir and now lives with the family in Chapel Allerton.
Mr Rafiq, 35, said: “My family comes from Kashmir so my grandma taught my dad the cooking. He passed it on to my uncle, and I have learned it from my dad and my uncle.”
Their lamb seekh kebabs are particularly popular with customers, he said, as is the family atmosphere.
He said: “You come in here and you feel at home, basically. It’s like a family feeling. We have got customers from the past 30 years, who keep coming back. They used to come in with their parents and now that they’ve grown up, they bring their children.”
Mr Rafiq said the ‘karahi’ in their name refers to a traditional cooking pot, and has also come to mean the dishes that are cooked in it.
He said: “A lot of people call it a balti, we call it a karahi. We mainly use it in our main courses, like lamb on the bone or chicken on the bone.”