Chef Alfred Prasad’s London | Find. Eat. Drink.

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September 30, 2014



Tamarind - London

Tamarind’s Kalonji Jhinga | Photograph courtesy of Tamarind




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Photograph courtesy of Tiipoi

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General Information

Tamarind of Mayfair

20 Queen Street

London, W1J 5PR, UK

T: +44.(0)20.7629.3561

Website | Book a Table

Tamarind of London

7862 East Pacific Coast Highway

Newport Beach, CA 92657

T: 949.715.8338

Website | Book a Table




Tiipoi at Harrods

87-135 Brompton Road, London SW1X 7XL, UK

T: +44.(0)20.7730.1234 |

“Tiipoi recreates classic Indian utensils out of copper, brass, glass and wood. Harrods stocks their lovely range of modern plates, paddles, trays and storage containers. They are really beautiful pieces.”



In 2001, six years after Tamarind opened in Mayfair, it became the first Indian restaurant in the world to receive a Michelin star. “That is quite a prestigious honor and we remain one of only six Indian restaurants to have this accolade,” says chef Alfred Prasad who joined Tamarind that same year. He is now the executive chef of both Tamarind restaurants in London and Newport Beach, CA.

Chef Prasad talks about his cuisine at Tamarind, gives a little bit of history on Indian food in London, and passes along his guide for where to eat in London. Get all his recommendations by downloading the Find. Eat. Drink. iPhone app.

Q. London has so many Indian restaurants, what makes Tamarind unique and special?

A. First, Tamarind focuses on the quality of the ingredients. We were also the first Indian restaurant overseas to break away from the typical decor. Many restaurants would use thick fabric curtains and carpeted floors, which doesn’t help in Indian restaurants where food flavors can linger. We had wooden floors, no wallpaper, no artifacts. It was a pc neutral dining room.

It is true that there are about 10,000 Indian restaurants in the whole of the UK and a large part of those are in London, but most of these tend to be run by Bangladeshi pioneers. They came into the UK in the late ‘50s, early ‘60s more as garment traders, but that dwindled in terms of opportunity. A lot of them decided to open small restaurants and take-aways serving Bangladeshi or Indian food from the subcontinent.

Most of them were not formally trained but popular enough because every local had their favorite. Just like they had their favorite pub close by, they also had their curry house. I give a lot of credit to the Bangladeshi curry houses for having popularized Indian food and allowed Indian chefs like myself to take it up a notch.

Q. What makes a “curry house” different in terms of food?

A. Curry houses will do an inexpensive buffet for lunch and dinner a la carte. When you serve a ₤8 buffet, you know the quality of the ingredients cannot be top notch, nor can the quality of cooking or the skill level of the team behind it.

Q. Was Tamarind a change for the way people thought about Indian restaurants?

A. Absolutely, after a late night of ten or twelve beers, you pop into a curry house for a spicy curry and that was their definition or their experience of Indian restaurants.

A significant change in the approach came with chefs who were classically-trained in India through the hotel school, followed by two or three years with hands-on experience at good five-star hotel kitchens in India. It did take longer for the customer expectations to justify the Mayfair prices. When Tamarind opened in 1995 it struggled, but we persevered, and we’ve reaped the rewards.

Q. Tamarind has expanded into the American market with Tamarind of London in Newport Beach, CA. Why and how did you pick this location?

A. A large part of our customer base of Tamarind Mayfair in London are either from New York or the Los Angeles area. We made a conscious decision to have a humble approach towards our expansion into the US. The menu features 70 percent of what we do here in London, but local chef Imran Ali also incorporates a California style as well. It’s more approachable and upscale casual than the fine dining in Mayfair, which almost has an unwritten dress code.

Murgh Makhni at Tamarind of Mayfair   

Photograph courtesy of Tamarind

Q. What would you recommend people try at Tamarind of Mayfair the first time they visit?

A. For those needing a more gentler introduction with the spice level, I recommend the butter chicken. It’s also called Murgh Makhni. It is from the Punjabi in the north and is one of the more milder dishes with a tomato-based sauce, flavored with honey, ginger and fenugreek dried leaves. I’m always amazed at the flavors and it is quite a misconception that all Indian food is spicy.

Bhunao Gosht at Tamarind of Mayfair   

Photograph courtesy of Tamarind

Q. And for those who love spice?

A. The Kashmiri Rogan Gosht is a classic lamb curry from Kashmir, a very cold region in the himalayas. It is a fiery red sauce that is medium spicy, not really really hot. It is flavored with dried ginger, cinnamon, cardamon, and cloves. It is very aromatic and a good introduction for someone who is familiar with Indian food and is able to handle spices.



The Red Fort   

Photograph courtesy of The Red Fort

“This is like the large supermarkets you see in India. They stock everything imaginable. If you want pickles or papadoms, they have them from every region.”


The Red Fort

77 Dean Street, Soho, London W1D 3SH, UK

T: +44.(0)20.7437.2525 |

“Named after the Red Fort in New Delhi, this restaurant has been quite long established in Soho. It is Northern Indian cuisine - curries, kebabs and biryani. What they have done quite well is that they have always invited master chefs from great Indian restaurants and hotel kitchens to spend a month to do a promotion and train their chefs with new flavors. Having done that for such a long time, their team of chefs have learned a lot of different styles of cooking and that has worked really well as a formula for them.”


Moti Mahal   

Photograph courtesy of Moti Mahal

Moti Mahal

45 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AA, UK

T: +44.(0)20.7240.9329 |

“It means Pearl Palace and is one of the longstanding Indian restaurants in London. It is an upscale curry house, which means the average check is about ₤25 to 30 per person. They serve very authentic Northern Indian cuisine with good curries, kebabs, and  appetizers like Aloo Tikki (potato cakes).”


62-64 Kinnerton Street, London SW1X 8ER, UK

T: +44.(0)20.7235.4444 |

“This is a Pakistani curry house but a bit pricy. Very good traditional Pakistani curries like the nihari - which is a lamb shoulder shank curry with a very aromatic sauce. They do lovely kebabs as well and lamb biryani, which is almost the national dish of Pakistan.”


Original Lahore

2-4 Gateforth Street, London NW8 8EH, UK

T: +44.(0)20.7723.0808 |

“It is bring your own booze and probably around 15 - 18₤ a head price point, but what they do really well are their kebabs and biryani. It's is always busy and you'll see a queue of people waiting for take out and the dining room absolutely full. This is one of the long-standing institutions.”


The Original Lahore   

Photo Credit: Ewan Munro [Flickr]