I had my first ever curry during my undergraduate fresher’s week, some years ago now (I’m not going to tell you how many). As my dining companions were kind, they suggested I start with a novice-friendly vegetable korma, and needless to say I was instantly hooked. Since then I’ve eaten at countless Indian restaurants across the UK, ranging from the quite awful to the really rather good (The Tiger’s Pad in Sunninghill being one memorable example). So far though, I’ve only ever ended up at curry houses with almost identical menus, which is perhaps what makes Indian restaurants such comfort food destinations – you can pretty much always guarantee your favourite curry will be somewhere on the list.
In sharp contrast to my curry-free upbringing, Bazley was raised on the smells and tastes of Indian food. I’m told curry has always played a major role in the mealtimes of the Bazley family, and so a trip to a Yorkshire Indian restaurant seemed like a good plan for our recent visit up North.
I first learnt about Prashad through Kaushy Patel’s lovely recipe book of the same name. Being not terribly meaty in my culinary persuasions, I was rather taken by Prashad’s wholly vegetarian menu, which was chock-full of intriguing dishes I’d never previously encountered. Indeed, there wasn’t a korma to be seen anywhere, meaning I’d definitely have to branch out!
The restaurant itself is located in the tiny village of Drighlington, to the south of the midpoint between Bradford and Leeds. Spread over two floors, we found it surprisingly full on the Tuesday evening we visited – a sure sign of a popular local spot. As we are wont to do, the Bazley clan and I had starved ourselves over the course of the day so we could hit the menu hard, and hit it hard we did indeed!
Cobra beer (£5 for 660 mL) and sweet and mango lassi jugs (£5 each) were the refreshments of choice, accompanied by the most flavoursome popodams I’ve ever tasted (£0.75 each, pickle tray £1.45). We then rapidly moved on to a tasting platter of starters (£10.95), along with additional samosas (£5.15) and pethis (£5.35), which introduced us all to a whole new range of Gujarati delicacies. The pethis were a particular favourite, their delicate coconutty centres being well complemented by the accompanying coriander ‘pesto’. The banana and fenugreek bhajis, or kalva, came a close second, and we were left longing for more after polishing off the tasting platter all too quickly!
The selection of main courses proved to be equally exciting, and we opted to share a chole (chickpea curry, £9.85), mysore dosa (lentil and rice crepe with many other additions, £9.95), handi (vegetable curry, £9.45) and paneer massala (£9.95) between us. Kichdi (with split mungh, £3.25) and jeera (with cumin and onion, £3.25) rices, along with gujwari (£3.45) and garlic (£2.65) naans were added just to make sure we would never have to eat again! Pretty much everything was a highlight amongst this selection – the dishes were all pleasingly low in oil, yet still rich and aromatic, with the vegetable tastes shining through. I once read a review by Jay Rayner in which he described a restaurant’s food as being cooked ‘with love’, and I can safely say that the food at Prashad is more than worthy of sharing that accolade.
Needless to say, this was a huge amount of food for four people, and I was the only one keen to sample dessert. I’d had my eye on the gajar halva (£5.75) from the start, and had forced myself not to eat too much of the starters and mains so that I might have space for this dish – ‘slow-cooked carrots caramelised and infused with rich cardamom’. Oh my. I love carrots, and here there were, with cream and spices and ice-cream, blended into the perfect dessert. I cannot wax lyrical about this dish enough, and I would travel the 200 miles from London to Drighlington to eat Prashad’s gajar halva again in a heartbeat. Oh my indeed.
So all-in-all, we had a most wonderful dinner – one which will most certainly be repeated in the future. The staff were friendly and attentive, the atmosphere relaxed, and the food? The food just needs to be tasted.
137 Whitehall Road