With the recent opening of Curry Leaf Café’s new Kemp Town Kitchen, we catch up with executive chef and co-owner Kanthi Thamma.
The original Curry Leaf Café has been a huge success, what does your new Kemp Town Kitchen offer that’s different?
Whilst our Ship Street restaurant focuses on casual Indian dining with a more conventional, course-based dinner menu, our Upper St James Street venue is all about small plates and street food than rather than curries. It’s a kitchen where I get to experiment a lot so the menu changes every six weeks or so with new creations.
Small plate dining is very much on trend, do you think it works well with Indian cuisine?
I think Indian cuisine has come a long way in recent years and now we can adapt it to any style. The small plates concept is not new to India as that’s what we do when we go out with friends back home. When a country has so much street food to offer, small plates are one of the best ways to enjoy lots of flavours in one go. I think we’ll see more Indian restaurants going down that route soon.
With the original Curry Leaf Café on Ship Street, the kiosk at Brighton station and the new Kemp Town Kitchen in Upper St James Street, is there room for more expansion of the CLC brand in the city or are you looking further afield?
To be honest, I don’t know the answer to that. Our journey over the past three years wasn’t planned; the offers came and we took them, making sure not to repeat the same format. If something exciting comes our way in future and we think there is still room for a venture in Brighton, we will look into it.
What’s the secret of Curry Leaf Cafe’s success?
The secret is not to have any secrets! Our approach is very casual dining with continually changing menus, experimenting with different formats, believing in simple and humble cooking, and having a great friendly team. It’s not fine dining – it’s fun dining. That’s what we believe in.
Looking to the year ahead, what events are you looking forward to?
I always love food festivals. I’m looking forward to The Hague Food Festival in the Netherlands in mid-July where I will be taking over a brewery kitchen to pair street food with their craft beers. Then there’s the second of the Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Festivals in August and we’re involved in some exciting pop ups and collaborations.