Cowbridge restaurant wins Asian Curry Award

Thursday, 6 December 2018

– Business

by Philip IrwinGEM Reporter

A Cowbridge Indian restaurant is celebrating after picking up two awards in the Asian Curry awards for 2018.

It was an extra special thrill for the Shampan in Eastgate, because the present team has only been in charge since March of this year!

Nevertheless, the Shampan made a huge impact on the competition judges, with Pat Chapman, the founder of the ‘Good Curry guide’ declaring: “If I was local, I would be a regular there!”

At the award ceremony in London, chef Ashi Aravind was named as ‘Asian Chef of the Year 2018 Wales’, while the Shampan was highly commended in the ‘Best Indian Restaurant Wales’ category.

Chef Ashi (nicknamed ‘Ash’) has been cooking professionally for 18 years and his journey began in a naval base restaurant in Kochi, Kerala, India as a chef. Here he learned about the art of discipline in life and in the profession.

Later with the Casino group of hotels, he was exposed to the intricacies of South Indian cuisine.

An opportunity in Dubai was his first exposure to world of international cuisine, and he enjoyed five good years as South Indian chef.

In 2009, he was offered a job at Cardiff’s famous Mint Mustard Restaurant’s Chai Street, which specialises in Indian street food.

Here he had added more skills to his repertoire and he has since worked in a variety of food service settings in the area including food trucks, and restaurants such as the Purple Poppodom and Pickled Pepper.

What Ash and his team at the Shampan believe in is authentic Indian cuisine – with Keralan cookery a speciality.

Authentic means doing away with excess salt, sugar, oil and artificial colourings, and letting the natural ingredients and spice work in the way they are intended.

Base sauces, where one sauce might feature in a range of dishes are banned in the Shampan, and each dish is prepared from scratch, using the right ingredients. No sauce is bought in.

It means that some popular Indian dishes look different, but the flavour is what counts at the Shampan.

The GEM was able to sample a mix of the Shampan’s dishes, and I enjoyed three different, but extremely tasty curries.

First was an Allepy prawn curry, made with ginger, raw mango and coconut gravy, tempered with fenugreek and curry – medium hot and full of flavour.

Next was a Lamb Rogan, made with ground spices, garlic, ginger and onions with saffron, and this was bursting with tasty elements.

This was followed by a Nadan chicken curry, a Kerala-style chicken prepared with coconut milk, curry leaves, ginger and tomatoes – a mild curry but once again full of flavour.

Before those tasters, there were some delightful starters, a Mumbai Street Chaat that melted in the mouth, a moist and succulent onion bhaji, and a lightly-battered soft shell crab – all leaving you wanting more!

The Shampan management team of Ashi, Saleem and Jabed are aiming to keep updating the menu and introduce more specialities.

In fact, they work with the well-known chef Pramod Nair, who acts as ‘Culinary Innovating director’, so the long-term aim is to offer diners variety and excellence, showcasing the best of authentic indian food!

by Philip Irwin

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