Tom Flint: Brighton chef crosses the North Sea

I mentioned last week about how British culture has often made a hash of imitating the cuisine of other nations. Whilst this was a valid point, there is something to celebrate about the fact we have had so much choice when it comes to dining out for so many years.

Friday, 5th May 2017, 5:43 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 4:09 am
Kanthi and Bas celebrating all things Dutch

Britain’s multi-cultural heritage, and no small amount of colonisation over the years, has meant that we have been able to experience the tastes of the globe in our everyday lives.

Indian cuisine is one of the best examples of this, especially when it comes to some of the worst culinary offenses. Thankfully that is all changed and we now have numerous fantastic restaurants that are showing the way when it comes to authentic Indian cuisine. One of these restaurants is The Curry Leaf Café, and their head chef Kanthi Kiran Thamma. Having firmly established themselves in their city, The Curry Leaf are now looking further afield to spread their love of authentic Indian cuisine.

I recently visited The Hague, The Netherlands third largest city, and enjoyed a Curry Leaf Café pop up at the Michelin Bib Gourmand celebrated Restaurant Basaal. The pop up was part of the regular chef exchanges arranged by the team behind The Brighton Food Festival, who will be putting on their Spring Harvest festival over the late May bank holiday. Kanthi had come to Holland to continue building on his friendship with Bas Oonk, head chef at restaurant Basaal, who will be coming over to Brighton for the festival to do a pop up of his own.

Our lunch was a taste of the street food style that you can enjoy at the new Kemptown Kitchen, the latest Curry Leaf creation. We started with a selection of Indian snacks with dips and chutneys, crisp bhajis and pakoras alongside fresh chick pea and potato salads. This was followed by a succulent and nutty chicken Chettinad curry with cumin pilaf, and my favourite of the lunch a Meen varuval fish curry. Firm and beautifully spiced fish which melted in the mouth.

Dessert was a delightful saffron yoghurt ice cream which was a smoother than Arthur Fonzarelli on ice.

That evening I got to taste Bas Oonk’s cuisine and was mightily impressed. Bas doesn’t have a menu at his restaurant, instead he has a look at what his suppliers bring him and create a new menu each evening. Bas is a chef who has taken on influences from the multi-cultural city in which he lives, most notably from Indonesia which has close ties with The Netherlands. It is this connection that he will be celebrating on May the 28th at Curry Leaf’s Kemptown Kitchen.

The pop up will showcase the “rijsttafel” style of dining that is popular across The Netherlands, with Dutch-Indonesian satays, salads and curries sure to feature along with some of Bas’s signature creations. Be sure to get your tickets for this event now to avoid disappointment as they are selling fast. This is just one of many fantastic events taking place over the food festival week all of which are on the website, it is sure to be a festival to remember.

Curry Leaf Café goes Dutch