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FOOD REVIEW: Currying favour in town once again

TOP TEAM: Joint owner Paul Shama (front) with, from left:Suman Khari, Ravi Acharya (joint owner/head chef) and Rasesh Rajbhandari.
TOP TEAM: Joint owner Paul Shama (front) with, from left:Suman Khari, Ravi Acharya (joint owner/head chef) and Rasesh Rajbhandari.

Editor Jeremy Ransome visits the Gurkha Oven, Sheep Market, Spalding

Were you one of those who turned your back on Gurkha Oven in Spalding after the old proprietors left early last year – I must admit I was.

I’d loved every one of my meals at the Nepalese and Indian restaurant over the past few years but, typical of me and I’m sure many others, I was a bit cautious of returning when new owners took charge.

And when I did go back, a few small things weren’t to my liking and I stopped going. Not consciously but, rather undeservedly, they’d lost a customer nonetheless. And I probably wasn’t the only one.

So when the new owners Paul Sharma and Ravi Acharya invited me along to review their food just before Christmas I was curious to take up their offer and genuinely hoping to come away with my faith restored.

The pair took over from previous owner Ram Krishna Bashyal in April and brought bags of experience to the table.

The Chicken Lasun Kukhura Khursani was both creamy and hot. It was like nothing I’d had before and I’ll be having it again!

Ravi is an experienced chef who trained and worked in Michelin Star London establishments, while Paul already runs Gurkha 91 restaurants in Bourne and Market Deeping.

“We are trying to do stuff a bit different from what you would get anywhere else locally,” says Paul.

“We have introduced quite a few different dishes with a distinct Nepalese theme. Many restaurants all over the country are closing down, but we are going up, not down.”

He admits trade was slow to start with but has gradually increased in subsequent months. “We built up the right vibes, the old customers slowly came back and their response was fantastic. They loved the change in recipes.

“Spalding is a small town so word soon got round about our food. Facebook and Trip Advisor have been flooded with good comments.”

Paul and Ravi don’t just want to feather their own nests either, and want to be a valued part of the Spalding community: “We are keen to support local charities and give something back – if anyone has any ideas they are welcome to get in touch,” added Paul.

And so for the food. I brought along my wife Josi and daughter Jo (12) so we had three starters, three mains and some sides to rate.

Let’s start with the setting itself – something that hasn’t changed. It’s spacious yet cosy, warm and welcoming. On the night we went, there were a couple of Christmas parties and yet the tables were still set apart enough for them not to be intrusive.

Knowing we were having two courses each and sides,we skipped the poppadoms for once and it’s a good job we did as the starters are generous.

Jo said her marinated lamb chops served with salad were divine and perfectly seasoned, while Josi went for something new to her – the very hot Fish Chilli, which she said was gorgeous but definitely not for those who don’t like it spicy! I wasn’t that adventurous in going for one of my favourites in the mixed platter but it was scrummy, especially the Kathmandu Tikka.

For mains I did go for something new with the Chicken Lasun Kukhura Khursani. This dish, cooked with garlic, green chillies andspring onions in the chef’s special Nepalese sauce, was both creamy and hot. It was like nothing I’d had before and I’ll be having it again!

Josi played safe with her favourite Chicken Tikka Masala while Jo was more adventurous with her selection of House Special Karahi – a mixture of barbecued chicken, lamb and prawns in a red wine sauce.

Both girls thought their mains were lovely and both are keen for a return visit.

We had two sides – another new choice and an old favourite. Josi said the Bhindi Bhaji was beautiful, with the okra cooked to perfection, while I was particularly enamoured with the Matar Paneer, gorgeously fresh green peas with soft cottage cheese. The rice must get a mention too – we had Special Fried and Mushroom, both cooked to perfection. We also shared a Peshwari Naan, which was creamy, nutty and tasty.

All in all, the three of us could not fault a thing. I wanted it to be good...it was much better than that. As a famous Austrian-American actor once said: “I’ll be back”...

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