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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Azaro

Their mission is simple: serve fresh, locally sourced, affordable "proper" authentic desi Dhaba food - just as informative owners Az and Kirti have always enjoyed themselves. They want to take you on a journey around India - from north to south - showcasing some truly exquisite vegetarian, fish and meat dishes. This is somewhere you can pop in to clear your mind with a coffee or masala chai and watch the world go by, grab a Bombay Burger to go or Tandoori Salad at lunch, or tuck into a Grand Thali on a school night with some cheeky mid-week cocktails. Recognised for the National Tiffin Cup and voted as one of the Nation’s favourite Indian restaurants.

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Published -1st December 2016