Grand Trunk Road – Why London’s newest Indian restaurant is more than just the best curry in town

RAJESH Suri’s restaurateur credentials are undeniable. Beginning his management experience at the renowned Oberoi hotel group in India, he then moved to Bahrain where he launched a host of five-star establishments before moving to London to work with Veeraswamy, the UK’s longest running Indian restaurant.

Grand Trunk RoadRajesh Suri, founder of Grand Trunk Road

Suri has since been part of the dream team behind London’s Tamarind Collection (including Tamarind Los Angeles) and was responsible for maintaining the restaurant’s Michelin star status for the entirety of his 14 years with them.

Grand Trunk Road InteriorGrand Trunk Road interior

Now though, Suri has embarked on his very own venture, one that goes right back to his roots. Grand Trunk Road restaurant in Woodford is thus named after the epic highway that runs from Chitagong in Bangladesh, through India and Pakistan to Kabul, Afghanistan. For over two thousand years this road has connected South and Central Asia and witnessed the trading of every imaginable commodity, in particular the heydays of the ancient spice and silk trades. This this rich heritage and broad exposure to different and exotic flavours has given the regions along the route very distinctive cuisines, making it a culinary heaven and prime inspiration for a man like Suri.

 

Pan Roast King fish with freshly ground spicesPan Roast King fish with freshly ground spices

Given that the road traverses four countries (including present day Pakistan), to dedicate a restaurant to the entire route would be to dilute the intricacies of each region. So Suri has chosen to focus solely on the part he is most familiar with – India. In fact, as a young student he often used to travel along a stretch in Northen India to get to university, and he was always amazed at the quality and flavours of the local food along the way.

Grand Trunk Road - ScallopsScallops

In his research, Suri and his chef travelled from Lahore in the North to Kolkata, in the Bay of Bengal, meticulously sampling every dish along the way to decide what would comprise their own menu. The result is a menu that is refreshingly different with a mouth-watering array of dishes that truly encapsulate Indian cuisine. Far from the typical chicken tikka masala and prawn bhuna, Grand Trunk Road offers such treats as Peshawar ki lamb chops cooked with fennel, star anise, raw papaya and gram flour or Kabulk ka tandoori khargos – boneless rabbit kebab cooked with tailed peppers (known for their essential oil and fruit with a with strong fragrance).

And unlike most Indian restaurants, where the vegetarian main courses are woefully lacking – ironic for a country with the world’s largest vegetarian population – the vegetarian options at GTR are outstanding. We loved the Paneer Kofta raisins and cashews in an aromatic tomato sauce – quite possibly the best vegetarian dish we’ve ever had in any restaurant.

Grand Trunk Road AubergineAubergine dish

It is fair to say that this is Indian cuisine at it’s very finest. It’s what you always hope for when you go to an Indian restaurant, but usually don’t find. We take our hat of to Suri for his innovative approach. Surely he should be awarded diplomatic status for services to his country, he has certainly raised the bar on a global level and has shown what Indian cuisine can and should be.

by Nicola Kavanagh

 

Grand  Trunk Road restaurant, 219 High Road, South Woodford, E18 2PB.
Tel: 0208 505 1965
email: manager@gtrrestaurant.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About The Author

Nicola Kavanagh

Glass Magazine editor in chief

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