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London Curry Breakthrough

January 9, 2011

We went into this restaurant first about two years ago and launched our list of prohibitions : no MSG, no chicken powder, no cream. We were relieved they were happy to oblige.

Later the owner told us what other Indian restaurants in the UK load into their curries. Try butter, salt, sugar, ghee, MSG and, as we feared, chicken essence and ( to complete the horror ) artificial coloring!

Okay, the restaurant that declines to load this poison onto your plates is Zayna at 25 New Quebec Street tel 44 (0) 20 7723 2229.

When we called in a few nights ago we again met the owner Riz Dar, very proud of how his Pakistani-North Indian restaurant has flourished since he switched careers, leaving electronics, and started grinding spices in the kitchen. On offer this night were mutton on the bone with ginger, onion, garlic, tomato and green chili and chicken shalmir – chicken breast stuffed with minced tenderloin chicken. And, he insists, still with none of the grotesque additives that are standard fare across the UK where curries are the national cuisine ( and where UK males are waddling around a stone heavier than they were in 1986 ).

Check their menu at It shows prices and emphasizes their free-range chicken and eggs.

We have searched London for the good curry. We came to believe it was a myth. Zayna shows it can be delivered and Helena has taken up Riz’ invitation to take some time in his kitchen and learn some tricks. When she dropped in recently she tasted lentil soup she declares the best ever.

You will find New Quebec Street just behind the Churchill Hotel.

  1. Jock Reby permalink
    December 30, 2010 10:22 am

    I never thought I would be getting restaurant tips from an ex-premier of nsw! But when it comes to finding good food when abroad, any help is welcomed. The food has improved markedly in the uk over the past 10 years, and it sounds like this restaurant is the go.
    One question: what is the price range?

  2. Simon Foster permalink
    December 30, 2010 6:53 pm

    One of the biggest shocks for me when moving to London 15 years ago, was that MSG was still used at many restaurants. I’m back in London on holidays at the moment, and meeting a friend for lunch in the West End today … may give it a try 🙂

    – Simon

    PS The correct web site is – prices look reasonable, especially since 1GBP = 1.5AUD at the moment.

    • Bob Carr permalink
      December 31, 2010 12:51 am

      MSG is a scandal.

      As Premier I got a reluctant Health Department to give me a regulation forcing restaurants to state on their menus whether they used it or not. Basic consumer information. You wouldn’t believe that the Coalition joined with cross-bench MLCs to have it disallowed on the grounds – wait for it – that the regulation was racist. That it picked on Chinese restaurants.

      Just watch out that when they assure you there’s no MSG they’re not pouring in chicken powder as flavoring. This is commonplace and the stuff is just as bad. So tell waiters, no MSG and no chicken powder.

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