It’d be hard to overstate the way Anand George helped change the way South Wales understands the possibilities of Indian food. That might sound like a bold claim, but his arrival in Cardiff brought new dishes and new flavours we never thought of as part of our national curry obsession.
While his informal Tukka Tuk Street food is always popular, here at Purple Poppadom is where you’ll find the most refined version of his cooking.
Born and raised in Kerala, Anand’s curiosity took him to London, where he worked at a Michelin-starred restaurant and developed his distinctive style. That brought him to Wales: his cooking soon made an impact on the capital and in 2011 he opened Purple Poppadom.
As he explains in The 5000 Mile Journey:
“I love subtle food… a lot of Indian food is over-spiced, it is killed by too much heat… Classic dishes remain essential and should always be celebrated. However, there is room to modify and develop. Just as the cuisine of Kerala was transformed over centuries by culture, trade and religion, so we should continue our evolutionary journey.’
The stairs take you up to a room picked out in greys and pinks (and, of course, purples).
You’ll find fond memories of the street food of Anand’s youth- such as Bombay chaat, those fragile chickpea-flour shells filled with spiced yoghurt and tamarind which it’s essential to eat in one go. (If it’s your first time, make sure you heed the advice and eat it ‘in one’…or ignore it and try to eat it in separate bites. Well, we did warn you…)
Standout dishes include ‘Tiffin Cup sea bass’ with a curry leaf-infused mashed potato and a mango and ginger sauce. It’s named after the competition Chef has entered and won twice.
Pork vindaloo is a revelation, aromatic and layered rather than just full of chilli heat, thanks to its complex spice blend and the sour tang of vinegar.
Chicken tikka might feature three marinades – basil, cream cheese and red chilli respectively: if you fancy seafood then try the whole soft shell crab marinated with curry leaf and garlic and coated in a light spiced batter; or the coconut milk and turmeric of the prawn moilee.
If you don’t eat meat you’re well looked after here, with the thoran of seasonal vegetables, with coconut and green chilli, and saag khumb (mushrooms in a clinging sauce of spinach and cream) always impressive.
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