London Lantern

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Top London Chefs and Restaurateurs - Alfred Prasad of Tamarind

22/06/2005, By

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Alfred Prasad

Alfred Prasad joined Tamarind as Sous Chef in 2001. His flair, innovation and desire to be prominent on the world’s culinary map progressed Alfred to Executive Chef in August 2002. Tamarind has retained its Michelin Star for five years and is the only Indian restaurant in the UK and Europe to hold this prestigious award. Alfred’s cuisine is renowned for dishes with panache and verve that explore, create yet retain traditional flavours taking Tamarind to even greater heights.

Alfred graduated from the Institute of Hotel Management, Madras in 1993. After completing his advanced chef training at the ‘Maurya Sheraton’ in Delhi he worked at the legendary ‘Bukhara’ and ‘Dum-Pukht’ restaurants in India. In 1996, Alfred moved to the ‘Sheraton Hotel’ in Madras, where he was Executive Chef at ‘‘Dakshin’ – India's premier south Indian restaurant.

Alfred moved to London in June 1999 and worked as Sous Chef at ‘Veeraswamy’ before joining Tamarind. Today, Alfred has gained industry and public recognition for his cuisine - he was named in the Restaurant Magazine’s top twenty ‘Movers and Shakers’ for 2004, as well as one of the ‘Rising Stars’ predicted to make it big in 2004 in Delicious Magazine. Alfred was also added to the 2004 Debrett’s People of Today, the annual publication which showcases great achievers in British society.

“Alfred deserves the widest recognition. A lot of people take Indian food for granted, but this man is always pushing the boundaries, seeking out new spices and combinations.” Gordon Ramsay.

Tamarind specialises in the tastes of modern India, both with its cuisine and its décor. The dining room is modern, yet comfortable, with an overall gold effect and there is never any feeling of being crowded. Tamarind’s menu, a derivative of Moghul cuisine, centres round native tandoor ovens where breads, meats, game, fish and shellfish are cooked in the North West Indian style. Chef Alfred Prasad has strong ideas and beliefs about his cooking.

Says he, “Indian food and culture is a vast yet immediate source of inspiration to my cooking. Its diversity – most still unexplored, contributes to innovative ideas that create a cuisine and an ultimate dining experience”. Not surprising therefore that Tamarind is renowned for its ongoing exploration of the sub-continent. The menu at Tamarind is lengthy enough to ensure that any serious seeker after proper Indian cuisine could spend an awful lot of time reaping the benefits of this enquiring attitude.

Starters include the Tamarind salad, with salad leaves, apples guava and kumquats in a mango-ginger and pine nut dressing, samudri chaat grilled scallops, tiger prawns and batter fried tilapia fillet with salad, Karaikudi chicken in a crisp batter of lentils and rice flour, flavoured with ginger and curry leaves, and served with a plum chutney.

Move on to adraki masala champen, tender lamb cutlets flavoured with ginger, peppercorns, achari bhindi, okra tossed with onions, garlic and powdered pickling spices nutmeg and coriander, and dal makhni, lentils cooked slowly, a speciality from the North West frontier.

Desserts have always been a speciality of Indian cooking, perhaps because of the startling contrast between the spices and the intense sweetness, but Tamarind excels. The gajar ka halwa is a form of carrot fudge, but for sheer perfection try the tandoori ananas, grilled pineapple with honey and saffron ice cream.

Unusually for an Indian restaurant they have a Sommelier, a very well versed one at that, with an excellent cellar stock from which to work. The tendency to replace jars of indifferent fizzy lager with decent wine when eating-out-India is one greatly to be encouraged. Staffing is an exemplar of the old adage that service in Indian restaurants is almost invariably polite, friendly and efficient.

The influx of new cuisines, never mind adaptations on old ones, that has overtaken the world and Britain in particular during the last few decades is not necessarily a bad thing provided that it is done with the degree of professionalism and curiosity that is displayed at every turn by Tamarind.

It perhaps goes without saying most of this excellence takes good management and vision, not to mention the money. But then Tamarind is just very special and if the process tends to reflect that, you can rest assured you will be getting value for money.

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