Great Gurkha food... but don't get ambushed by the chillies
SECRET Service has mentioned to one or two friends who live elsewhere that Derby has more than one Gurkha restaurant and the response has been the same – how lucky we are to have such variety here when their own towns do not have a representation from Nepal.
Your spy had visited Gurkha Paradise, at Spondon, once before, on a social occasion when a review was not required and been most impressed. This week, your spy and companion returned to try the cuisine again with a review in mind.
What we had enjoyed the first time round was that, while the food is similar in many ways to what you will get in an Indian restaurant, it is generally less oily.
It is also the case, incidentally, that while you will almost invariably be served by male waiters in Indian restaurants, you will find both male and female staff in a Gurkha establishment.
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The menu is split into two distinct sections, with Indian-style meals any regular curry-eater will recognise on one half and Nepalese equivalents on the other side.
We started with a pickle tray and popadoms featuring no fewer than six different sauces, which came with an explanation about them from the proprietor – one, made from tamarind, takes 16 hours to prepare and all are home-made, we were assured.
We both chose malai tikka for a starter. This is chicken in a mix of ground cashews and yoghurt and a mild sauce and it was utterly delicious.
Secret Service's companion often chooses karahi lamb in Indian restaurants and had eaten the same on the first visit to Gurkha Paradise but went a step further and chose the Gurkha special karahi this time. It includes chicken, lamb, prawns and king prawns and, as it turned out, rather a lot of green chillies.
This was our biggest problem with the evening. These chillies were exceptionally hot and the explanation from the proprietor that they are served in large pieces so that they can be picked out easily by diners who prefer not to eat them was all well and good – but it would have been good to have known before the choice was made.
Your spy opted for the house special Gurkha De Lux, including chicken tikka, fish tikka, king prawns and uoneko masu – which is a delicious lamb kebab. No problems there, the meal was fabulous.
While my companion accompanied the meal with a spinach-based curry, I had bariko vegetables, also curried and quite delicious. One portion of pilau rice was plenty, in a large bowl.
A mint crisp delight – a chocolately ice cream – topped off my companion's meal and reduced the heat from those chillies.
Gurkha Paradise is an unpretentious, comfortable little restaurant, with a warm welcome and beautifully presented food. If you don't like your food too hot, do make sure you ask about those chillies – and expect a lovely evening.
MEAL FOR TWO: Popadoms and pickles, £3.70; Malai tikka starter for two, £7.90; Gurkha special karahi, £10.95, Gurkha De Lux special, £10.95; khola saag, £3.95; bariko vegetable curry, £3.95; pilau rice, £2.50; mint crisp delight £3.50.
OPEN: 5.30-11pm Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday, 5.30-11.30pm Friday and Saturday, closed Monday. Call 01332 660500.