Currying favour

PUBLISHED: 13:26 11 February 2014 | UPDATED: 13:26 11 February 2014

Food and beer feature at Zaika in Ipswich.

Food and beer feature at Zaika in Ipswich.


Ross Turner visits one of his favourite Indian restaurants in Ipswich in search of the perfect spicy combination

Being a Suffolk boy and from Ipswich, I thought it was time to revisit one of my favourite restaurants and introduce you to a match made in heaven.

I have always liked and been interested in spicy food due to the wonderful flavours and ingredients, particularly Indian cuisine. Ipswich has some fantastic Indian takeaways and restaurants, but Zaika is consistently good. Now in its ninth year, the restaurant is as popular as ever and owner Kashwi has increased seating capacity so there is further dining on the top floor.

The curry we have chosen for the match is bhuna, one of my top five curries. It is a mild to medium curry and includes various spices, prawns, tomatoes, onions, pepper and coriander. Zaika offers this curry with lamb, chicken, chicken tikka, prawn and king prawn tikka. We have chosen to keep it simple and serve king prawn bhuna with pilau rice and a side portion of naan bread.

A great beer to match with this, is the award winning Umbel Ale, 3.8% abv (alcohol by volume), from the Growler brewery.

This brewery was established in 1986 in Clare and used to be called Nethergate. As awards for the beer increased so did the demand and in 2005 they decided to move to a larger premises three miles up the road to Pentlow, just outside Long Melford. In 2010 the company was taken over by four new owners and renamed Growler. There is more information on the brewery website

Umbel Ale is made with Fuggles and Challenger whole leaf hops and Maris Otter and Crystal malt. It also has coriander added late in the brew, so you can imagine the match with a curry works well.

As a regular curry eater, I find wine inappropriate, whether it be white or red. Sadly the majority of big brand, so called curry beers you find in Indian restaurants are dull, flavourless and somewhat disappointing. When I first tried Umbel Ale it fascinated me – I can easily drink this alone or with a variety of curries.

It might not be to everyone’s taste on its own but paired with a curry – the Bhuna in our case – it opens up the mind, refreshes the palate and enhances the whole experience. Served in a chalice glass the colour is amber gold, while the fragrant coriander, spice, floral notes and hops leap out of the glass and grab your attention. It’s the freshness of the aroma that wins you over instantly – you already begin to see how this is a pleasant match before you have even tasted either.

As you try the curry, you first pick out the subtle spiciness and smoothness of the sauce, then come prawns, tomatoes and coriander. I now feel very happy and it’s about to get better as we introduce the beer to the party. Immense flavour of coriander hits you, followed by bitter hops. This flavour lingers long into the taste and aftertaste.

As the ale warms to the correct temperature (around 13°C) your concentration also warms up, allowing you to discover the malt. It’s this that complements the sweet meatiness of the prawns.

The carbonation in the beer is enough with the bitterness to cut through the small amount of fat in the medley of ingredients in the pan and you’re always left with a cleansed palate. The hops work with the spice, while the coriander flavour in the beer enhances the coriander in the curry. Both combine and complement the all-round taste of the curry. This beer offers incredible flavour for a 3.8% abv and would match up to most curries well.

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