A new curry restaurant is looking to turn back the clock and bring to life dishes inspired by pre-partition India.
Zulfi Karim, founder and director of the World Curry Festival, is launching Curryosity in Saltaire, a fast food business that offers a reduced menu focusing on quality.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Mr Karim said: “There’s tens of thousands of takeaways up and down the country and we’ve all got to rely on our local takeaway.
“When you go there the menu normally probably features 150 different variations. It becomes very complex and that is what we wanted to do away with. In a way Curryosity is my take on the takeaway.”
Mr Karim says he wishes to educate diners about which parts of South Asia dishes emanate from.
“The palate is already now educated,” Mr Karim said. “People now, after consuming curry for the last 50 years in this country, are used to flavour. People now know what a good curry is and what a bad curry is.”
He added that Curryosity’s aim was to offer diners authentic “traditional staple dishes” from the subcontinent.
“It’s kind of no nonsense, taking it back to bare basics,” he said. “Having a limited but varied menu that will change regularly.”
The founder of the World Curry Festival says that while there are “some great restaurants” offering curries especially in Yorkshire, the takeaway market is the opposite.
“The grab and go takeaway market needs to provide better quality and better choice,” he said.
In fact the idea for Curryosity came as a result of Mr Karim’s poor takeaway experience. He and his wife were out looking to get something to eat and visited their local takeaway.
“I just wasn’t impressed with the offer and the taste of the food. So I actually decided to buy that takeaway and transform it,” Mr Karim said.
Curryosity is currently in the midst of a soft launch and Mr Karim says they will be testing the menu between Christmas and New Year. The full menu will be launched in 2017.
The business has hired a pprofessional chef but Mr Karim says they will also have guest chefs coming in every so often bringing their unique expertise to the menu.
A shortage of skilled curry chefs is a problem in the food industry, Mr Karim said. He believes the reason for this shortage is a lack of home-grown chefs.
The industry has over the years been reliant on bringing chefs over from the subcontinent. However, the Government’s immigration policy has made it difficult to bring chefs in from abroad. “It’s become almost unviable,” says Mr Karim.
“There has been very little training provision and skills provision developing chefs here in the UK,” he added.
Through the World Curry Festival and Curryosity, Mr Karim is looking to give opportunities to trainees. “We want to get more younger people interested in joining the curry industry as a profession,” he said.
Law firm Gordons advised on the lease to the premises in Saltaire.
Regional and seasonal focus
Rather than pigeonholing curry dishes by country, Curryosity will aim to explore regional variations in South Asia.
“We’ve been studying, as part of the work that we do with The World Curry Festival, these regional variations and where the best cuisine comes from,” Zulfi Karim said.
The menu will also depend on the season as Mr Karim wants to put an emphasis on seasonal produce.
“I think it’s very important that we bring back regional produce and seasonal produce,” he said.
Mr Karim says that each region has its own unique strengths with the South offering the best in vegeterian.