The Capital’s fiery love affair with curries has reached new heights after an Indian eatery was branded the best restaurant in the country.
Leith bar and kitchen Mithas set the Catering in Scotland Excellence Awards alight, becoming the first Indian restaurant to win the top prize.
Judges praised the restaurant for blazing a spicy trail in Indian cuisine, saying in their notes: “When you visit, it is advisable to leave whatever you think or know about Indian cooking at the door.”
The upmarket restaurant couldn’t be further from your average curry house, as the only Scottish Indian restaurant to appear in the Michelin Guide. Mithas is also the only Indian restaurant outside of London to have won two rosettes from the bible of fine dining.
“We wanted to create something unique,” said general manager Jaimon George.
Mithas’ chefs all hail from the subcontinent, having been poached from top restaurants in London or India itself.
The nine-course tasting menu takes diners on a whistle-stop tour of Indian flavours, but diners expecting the usual takeaway staples of korma, tikka masala and madras on the menu will leave hungry. Many of the UK’s favourite curries were designed for palates in this country, according to Mr George, and bear no resemblance to the authentic Indian food served at Mithas.
“You can’t knock them, because they are dishes that people like,” he said. “But with the Indian chefs coming from India and cooking Indian food properly, as opposed to what it was before, it isn’t the same.
“When people come in here, they still expect to find korma and tikka masala, and poppadoms with mango chutney.
“When we tell them we do things slightly differently, some people get disappointed, but some people give it a try – and when they try it, they always come back.”
Head chef Pramod Nawani’s signature dish is his panch phoran masala lobster, with sweet shellfish meat marinated in honey, garlic and a mix of five spices, before being cooked on a traditional Indian “sigree” grill and served back in its shell.
Despite being just two years old, Mithas has deep roots in the Capital.
Its owners also run Edinburgh curry institution Khushi’s, which became the city’s first ever Indian restaurant when it opened in 1947.
Neil Thomson, chairman of the judging panel, said: “Indian restaurants have kept growing in popularity throughout the UK, and Scottish people in particular have taken them to their hearts.
“The quality and innovation shown by many Indian restaurant chefs have taken the sector to new levels.”