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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Bradford Curry Awards 2023: This vegetarian curry restaurant in Bradford, hopes for a ‘Prashad’ in form of the ‘Best Restaurant’ title.

The much-awaited Bradford Curry Awards is back with its fourth edition on 10 July. More than 200 establishments competed for the coveted title to be the Best of the Best 2023, with around 30 making it to the finals, in nine categories, ranging from best restaurant, eatery, caterer and best marketing.

Each day, we hope to introduce you to a finalist, so you can find out more about their food and their journey as a finalist. We introduce to our finalist, Prashad, competing for the Best Restaurant category.

The category, will look into an all-round experience of the restaurant, including food, ambience, presentation and experience,

Prashad, a fine-dine vegetarian restaurant located in Drighlington, began back in 1992, as a small Indian mithai shop. It slowly gained popularity, as the owners introduced more seats and presented Gujarati vegetarian dishes.

Bobby Patel, who runs Prashad recalls the highs, “We had a chance to take part in a national competition run by Gordon Ramsay. We were the underdogs in the competition, there were 12,000 entries, of which 16 were selected. We as the underdog, progressed through the competition and made it into the finals. That, brought more awareness of the cuisine and who we are.”

Two years after impressing Gordon Ramsay, Prashad moved to its present location at Drighlington,

“We focus more on fine dining”, Bobby says.

Looking back at Prashad’s journey since 1992, Bobby says, “It was very much about understanding my parents who founded the business, understanding their ethos, which was all about quality and authenticity. From the beginning, the vision was always to keep things original, and make sure that we offer the customers of Bradford an authentic taste. One of my youngest memories of the restaurant, of my mom and dad, was how much they would be involved in the community. They were catering for thousands of people in weddings. They were very charitable; they were generally giving.”

Dishes at Prashad restaurant
Image: Prashad

Speaking of the name, Prashad, which in Hindi, means an offering made to devotees visiting a temple, Bobby says, “It was our way of identifying with the purity of the word. Also, to those, it would clearly mean, vegetarian. So, it was close to how we live and how we wanted the business to grow.”

Bobby Patel claims that Prashad is the only vegetarian curry restaurant in Bradford.

“We are the only one, Indian restaurant, in England that has got a national accolade. We have a Micheline system. No other vegetarian restaurant has one.”

Speaking of Covid, the period where food and hospitality industry faced its worse challenges, Bobby said, “We had a lot of challenges, just like everyone. But you had to make a choice, whether we are going to adapt or are we going to follow everyone and stay home, not being a part of the solution.

“We just couldn’t stay at home. We adapted the business, obviously switching from fine-dining to take-aways is challenging, because fine-dining gives a lot of focus on presentation. We looked at our take-aways and made sure we are completely bio-degradable, so that we connect to our customers, and they appreciate our efforts.

“We relied on our community at Drighlington to order take-aways, that was our route to revenue.

“We also started running an initiative, called the ‘Community chaat’, it was an idea where anyone within our network would nominate someone who is isolating or struggling or working with the NHS, with lots of hours or is Covid affected.

“We would take in those nominations and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, we would contact those people and arrange a free meal and deliver it. We served free meals to just over a thousand individuals.

“We also started reaching out to NHS, the police and others working through the pandemic and trying to arrange meals for their teams”.

“Our customers continued to support us; we took forward our take-away business to such an extent that we came out of the pandemic with no debt.

“We weren’t making any money, but all of our staff were paid, all the rent was paid and that’s the best we could hope for”.

Speaking to Asian Standard, Bobby Patel listed down the speciality dishes from Prashad, “If there is one dish that crosses every culture, it is chaat. Our chaat, is phenomenal. We don’t need to shout about it because our customers do. If we look at the menu, all the Gujarati starters, are very popular.

Prashad’s Tasting Menu for Summer 2023
Image: Prashad

“We then have the tasting menu, which provides a high-end dining experience. At £70 per head, you get seven courses, each course is influenced by the current season. You will be full after seven courses, and you will feel like you’ve been on an elevated journey of individual dishes.

“We also have the Maharani Thali, that is fit for royalty. It is beautifully presented, having traditional Indian dishes.

“We also have the Masala Dosa, which is a part of the Tasting Menu, in a more deconstructed version.”

When asked, what would having the title of ‘Best Restaurant’ at the Bradford Curry Awards mean for Prashad, Bobby said: “It is really a prestigious recognition. We are born in Bradford, we are from Bradford, we are proud to be so. We respect the work that goes into every single restaurant, it is not an easy job to run a restaurant. We feel that we do our part and make that effort. So, for us, it would be a recognition of the efforts of my team, of my head chef. It would be a salute to us.”

Will Prashad, get its recognition it seeks, we’ll only know on 10 July, when the winners for the fourth annual Bradford Curry Awards are announced.

Keep watching this space for more details.

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