It’s National Curry Week and Newcastle Indian street food restaurant My Delhi has extra cause to celebrate as it wins top awards
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There is plenty to celebrate at My Delhi Indian Streetery in Newcastle this week as its head chef is awarded the title of Chef of the Year.
Gaurav Dayal, who cooks the kind of street food he enjoyed as a child in Delhi, won over judges at the Asian Restaurant & Takeaway Awards in London on Sunday when he took part in a live cook-off with his rival finalists. And in the national spotlight at the awards – which are dubbed the Oscars of the curry industry – he was awarded the regional and national Chef of the Year title.
The accolade adds to a growing clutch of awards which My Delhi, run by brothers Elahi and Shah Amin, has earned in recent years and – with this being National Curry Week – executive chef Gaurav gave Chroniclelive a demonstration of the dish which so impressed the ARTA judges.
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Butter Chicken 1950s is one of the best sellers at the restaurant in Clayton Street, where diners can enjoy authentic street food against a buzzy background featuring vibrant colours, graffiti-style art and movie posters. There's also a screen relaying scenes from the actual streets of Delhi which add to the real city atmosphere.
My Delhi has followed up its Newcastle restaurant with a branch in Sunderland which recreates its trademark graffiti art look, reminiscent of the bustling street life in India's capital city.
Gaurav's butter chicken represents the dish as it was originally made back in the 1950s and he demonstrated a simplified version which he says people can recreate easily at home – and he suggests it is ideal for a cookery session with children. He will be making a video showing the same process to share on My Delhi's Facebook page from Thursday.
My Delhi serves authentic Indian street food not the usual versions for English palates which have been developed over the years and which are often served in Indian restaurants, says Shah. Contrary to many expectations, Indian food is not always spicy and butter chicken – which has a tomato-based sauce, with butter and cream added only at the end – is a case in point. It's hugely popular and is also a dish which Gaurav cooked on the debut of TV show Britain's Top Takeaway.
In this recent BBC series, which saw Gaurav and Elahi fly the flag for the North East, the pair emerged as winners in the Indian food category, beating fellow competitors from the likes of Edinburgh and London. And now the restaurant's latest success at the ARTA awards – where My Delhi, along with Ahad Tandoori Restaurant in Gosforth, was also nominated in the Restaurant of the Year category – saw Gaurav win Regional Chef of the Year and then beat all the regional winners to take the title of National Chef of the Year 2022.
The ARTA awards start with nominations from the public then judges draw up a short-list and invite the finalists to a national cook-off and here Gaurav's dish, which he named Kundan in tribute to the founder of the world-famous butter chicken in Delhi, proved the stand-out hit. The whole dish included a two-way tandoori-roast chicken roulade, with a stuffing, served on a bed of butter masala sauce and served alongside a 'deconstructed' Aloo Tikki, green chutney Indian hummus topped with spiced potato balls and drops of tamarind and date chutney.
Crowning the dish was a ring made of shortcrust pastry flavoured with black onion seeds. Gaurav, who has been at My Delhi since it first opened in Newcastle in 2019, was 'overwhelmed', he says, by the win, calling it "an amalgamation of what I’ve learnt in my culinary journey, those who have inspired me, those I’ve learnt from".
He added: “I want to pay a special tribute to the street hawkers of Delhi who have inspired me with the menu here at My Delhi. They are the real magicians, the artists who create amazing food with minimal ingredients – the food I grew up eating in Delhi."
He praised his team at the restaurant and thanked its customers: Director Elahi Shah Amin said: “We are tremendously honoured and absolutely delighted to win these awards.
“It’s an amazing achievement for My Delhi and Chef Gaurav, and we’re so proud to have him bring the very best of Delhi and North Indian street food to our diners here in the North East.” Gaurav, who is always keen to answer questions or offer cooking advice to customers, says the idea of the videos he will be making for My Delhi's Facebook page is to "give something back" in return for the loyalty shown by restaurant regulars.
For more about the restaurant, which still has some availability for National Restaurant Week and is also currently planning ahead for Christmas, see here.
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