The courageous Andy Hill has taken it upon himself to taste-tested Brighton's best curry houses. Having tried everything from poppadoms to cardamoms (we advise not doing the latter), he's shared with us his top recommendations, sure to satisfy your craving for curry.

Nothing better illustrates the plurality and openness of British culture than our love of a blimmin' good curry. The UK’s first curry house opened in 1810, but as a nation we’ve had the hots for Indian food since valiant knights brought home spices from the mysterious East during crusader times.

Brighton in particular has long coveted the fashions and flavours of the subcontinent (see The Royal Pavilion), and in recent years has been at the very cutting edge of the Indian dining scene. So prepare to spice up your life with Wriggle as we uncover the best curry in Brighton…

Planet India

‘Authentic homemade Indian food, made by authentic homemade Indians’ declares the jolly sign out front. This informal credo is manifest in every detail of what Planet India do. Can’t choose a main course? They’ll whip up a half-and-half plate of two separate dishes for you. Not sure what half the words on the menu mean? Each item has a refreshingly candid explanatory tag: ‘used to be my favourite’ or ‘a bit like horseradish, but not’. Staff are knowledgable and clearly proud of what they do; just try and stop them recommending their legendary Dhai Bel Puri starter, a spicy yoghurt confection with diced tomato, red onions, chickpeas and coriander. It’s a Brighton institution all on it’s own.

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Chilli Pickle

Deftly executed, imaginative takes on proper regional dishes served with panache in a bright, comfortable and contemporary town-centre setting. Much of the emphasis is on Thali (comprising sweet, salty, bitter, sour, astringent and spicy morsels presented on a single tray), but a versatile team in the kitchen are equally at home whipping up sensationally saucy fare from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and West Bengal. Everything at Chilli Pickle is accessible, arrestingly colourful on the plate and capped off in exquisite style by the best Indian-inspired dessert menu around.

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Curry Leaf Cafe

An artfully renovated Georgian cottage is the flagship among Curry Leaf’s three distinct Brighton venues (try their mouthwatering ‘Indian pub grub’ at Temple Bar, or the fiery Vindaloo bacon roll at the bijou station concession). The ‘cafe’ itself uniquely serves brunch, lunch and dinner derived from South Indian ingredients and flavours. Masala battered fish and spicy chips is a nifty little gimmick, but the real star is Goan peri-peri sauce (piquantly referencing Portugal’s colonial influence on that corner of India). Veggies are spoilt for choice here, as are craft beer nuts with some 30 rotating brews in the cellar.

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Indian Summer

If you crave date-night-fancy Indian nosh this classy brasserie-style joint, complete with twinkling chandeliers and proper glassware, is sure to dazzle. Upmarket classics run the gamut from an elegant veggie galouti (butternut squash, beans, basmati rice, candy beetroot) to tandoori black bream (with Mumbai aloo, sesame raita and fresh fennel). The wine list is refined but never showy, and like the place as a whole is not without a certain homeliness; head chef and co-owner Minesh proudly credits mama’s influence on his cooking, while co-founder Byron will delightedly recount the gripping yarn of how he and his family were run out of Burma on a wooden aeroplane.

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Desi

This snug little takeaway-focussed spot just off London Road doesn’t bother with airs and graces. Instead it provides the freshest, most lovingly executed take on what might be termed ‘traditional British curry’ – think popadums, onion bhajis, peshwari naans and (yes) tikka masala – this side of Brick Lane. Actual Indian folk swear by the place, plus it’s very decently priced and always delivered promptly with a smile. ‘Desi’ literally translates as ‘unadulterated, pure’. You know what you’re getting here, and you know it’s going to be lush. For those hungover days when you crave a judgement-free chicken korma and chips, Desi is the one.

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Manju's

Manju’s are cooking up a storm on the Brighton food scene. Their flavour filled dishes pay homage to the region of Gujarat, with sensational vegetarian street food. The charming and distinctive offering of Manju’s is all down to its head Chef, 81 year old Manju Patel. After fleeing persecution in Uganda in ‘72 with her two sons, she arrived in London with just £12 in her pocket. 40 years later Manju is now living her dream and running a successful Indian restaurant in the heart of Brighton. When you’ve been cooking from the age of 15, there’s not many dishes she hasn’t added to her repertoire. The family run restaurant sources high quality, local produce and every dish is made with passion and love from their old family recipes. The family are currently celebrating after being listed as the #1 Indian Restaurant in Brighton on Tripadvisor. Hear! Hear!

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Chaula's

If you're looking for your favourite Indian dishes done just right, look no further than Chaula’s. Serving both classics and authentic Gujarati cuisine, Chaula's is a must visit for those seeking a real​ taste sensation. It also boasts a huge selection of tasty veggie dishes oozing flavour, and a large upstairs dining area capable of seating up to 80 people - Perfect for private functions!

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Bayleaf

Bayleaf is brand new on the circuit but is already causing a ruckus amongst foodie fanatics in the city. Located on the Kemptown promenade, this spicy little joint are racking up some of the tastiest, freshest Indian cuisine in town. The locals favourite dish is the Bayleaf chicken served with homemade naan or rice. Manager Muki recommends the Naz Butterfly to start. WOM has quickly spread of the restaurants friendly service, quaffable wine list, and delicious, affordable food. It’s one you’ll just want to curry on eating forever.

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Eastern Eye

One of London Road’s finest, the Eastern Eye are a firm local favourite. Head chef Murrali is from Madras and specialises in seafood, this is wholeheartedly apparent with the delicious dishes on offer. The chef’s top pick is grilled fillets of swordfish in a hot curry with pickling spices. The Lamb Shank Narendra is a proper Wriggle favourite, so tender it practically falls into your mouth and doused in caramelised onion, roasted garlic, bay leaves and black pepper sauce. Cue salivation. This flavoursome little gem in Brighton’s most recently gentrified area don’t brag about their cooking, but boy oh boy does it pack a punch. A must try for any Indian cuisine enthusiast.

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Memories of India

Memories of India make heart warming curries that taste like they’ve been home cooked right in Kerala and doused with soul, passion and a mighty fine hit of spice. Their menu is BIG, so it’s worth checking out the specials while you munch on some freshly made poppadoms. Art clad walls entertain while you chomp your way through Tandoori Ginger Lamb Chops, Goan Green Chicken Curry and spicy Jalfrezis. There’s a good selection of veggie dishes to cater for the plant based. Because of its vast space at this waterside location, it’s the perfect venue for large bookings or corporate events. It’s friendly team will cater to your every whim.

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Kitgum Kitchen @ The Signalman

Having built up a loyal following at The Sir Charles Napier and The Hare and Hounds, following on from a successful stint at The Mesmerist, Kitgum Kitchen has landed at The Signalman. Founder, Fayaz is sharing his family recipes packed with flavour in the upstairs dining area. Totally unique East African and Gujarati fusion dishes. In 1972, the president of Uganda, Idi Amin, announced that all Asians had 90 days to leave their homeland. Among the exiles were Fayaz's parents, and although they only took a single suitcase they brought a wealth of recipes from their unique heritage. Now you're invited to come and sample some of the delights inspired by their story!

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JALDEE JALDEE @ Bottom's Rest

A recent addition to Brighton & Hove's teeming food and drink scene, Jaldee Jaldee offers authentic homemade vegetarian and vegan street food from different regions across India and East Africa. With recipes having been lovingly passed down from generation to generation, the aim is to create the same experience of enjoying delicious plates of mouth-watering food found on the bustling streets of India and East Africa right here on your doorstep. Dedicated to providing the best quality food using fresh herbs and whole spices, all of their sauces and chutneys are homemade! We love street food, and we love great pubs, so Jaldee Jaldee's exciting pop up at the vibrant, Bottom's Rest pub is something we're super proud to share with you!

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Published -3rd August 2018