Curry & Chuckles at Rajdutt Restaurant, Near Uckfield, East Sussex

Rajdutt Restaurant Building

We arrived at 8.30pm.  I guess it’s quite late for a Thursday evening so we were the only customers seated.  However, during our visit the “Just Eat” phone signaled takeaway orders coming in constantly and various people arrived to collect orders.

On arrival we were greeted warmly and shown to an intimate corner with a choice of tables. We selected a round one that was set to seat four.  There was only me and Hub so there was plenty of space on the white-cloth covered table and our waiter removed the two unwanted place settings.  Each table was adorned with a pretty vase of flowers.  We were in view of the bar from where our waiter for the evening, Tito, was able to keep watch on us and he was very attentive to our needs.

One of the nicest things about this restaurant is the lovely décor.  It’s far removed from the red flock wallpaper we used to associate with curry houses in previous decades.  This is so stylish that you might take ideas for redecorating your living room.  Deep teal wallpaper is interspersed with feature panels of bold, tropical flora, with cornices accentuated in muted silvery-gold.  There are decorative alcoves with plants and back-lighting adding to the ambience.  The tempting and well-stocked bar is painted in a contrasting mustard colour.

The premises underwent an extensive refurbishment toward the end of lockdown, with local tradesmen doing a terrific job.

The Rajdutt used to be The Barley Mow pub, and the internal layout inside the main entrance hasn’t changed although it’s been an Indian (well, Bangladeshi) restaurant for over 20 years.

Perhaps it’s due to the pub layout that people still treat it like a pub and come along for a meet up and pint even if they’re not eating.  There are comfy couches opposite the bar and in good weather they can meet on the huge patio that enjoys the best sunsets.  And why not?  The drinks are cheaper than the pubs and there’s a large selection including Indian lagers, Kingfisher on tap and Cobra in bottles.

Rajdutt extension
The extension – ideal for events and functions

A long extension has been added, which is perfect for functions and events such as a Bollywood Night hosted in the summer.  They also have a popular themed ‘Quiz & Curry Night’ once a month during which participants dress up to suit that month’s theme.  The winning team is rewarded with a very generous £40 Rajdutt voucher and the best costume with a £10 voucher.   On quiz nights there’s a well-stocked and varied buffet on offer for £13.95 per person which includes entry to the quiz.  Amazingly good value!

themed quiz nights
Dress Up Time on Themed Quiz Nights

Tonight my tipple of choice is a dry rosé while Hub settles for a Kingfisher, beautifully poured into a decorative Kingfisher-branded glass.

rose wine and a pint of kingfisher
Our Tipples of Choice whilst perusing the menu

The menu’s extensive with a big variety of specials in addition to the usual offerings and the prices are very reasonable.  The restaurant is open seven days a week.  They offer a 10% reduction for collected takeaways or free home delivery within 3 miles, both for orders of over £20, and I understand the restaurant is very popular for these.

I decide to stick with tradition and go for an Onion Bhaji to start followed by King Prawn Ceylon.  Hub has a chat with the manager, Rahat, who enquires as to the sort of food Hub enjoys.  As a result, Hub chooses to go with an off-menu dish Rahat recommends.  There’s a note on the menu stating that their chef can prepare any dish that’s not on the menu, so if you have something you’ve enjoyed elsewhere, especially if it’s an authentic dish you’ve eaten while travelling the Indian continent, they’ll be delighted to oblige. We’ll complete our meal this evening by sharing a Pilau Rice, a side of Saag Aloo and a Stuffed Paratha bread.

We began with the obligatory Papadums and dips.  The Papadums are large, crispy and warm.  I’ve frequently been disappointed at other restaurants whern the Papadums taste as if they’ve been cooked in ‘old’ oil or are greasy, but these are fresh and light.  A tray of four sundries is provided:  a lime chutney with quite a kick, a sweet mango, a cooling yoghurt & mint sauce and a bowl of fresh onions with tomato and cucumber.

No sooner have we finished these than our starters arrive.  My Onion Bhajis have the perfect consistency.  They’re a beautiful, golden colour, crispy on the outside, soft and floury in the middle.  Hub’s gone for the Vegetable Samosas.  Inside the perfectly-cooked shell, there are peas, potato and herbs.  Both dishes are served on a fresh salad of lettuce, tomato and cucumber and are perfect to get our mouths watering ready for the main event.

We’re brought fresh cutlery and hot plates ready for our main course.  Our waiter, Tito, appears with our dishes on a trolley and the smells waft under our noses.  I always think the smell of spices is one of the best things about eating Indian food.

The king prawns in my King Prawn Ceylon are big and juicy.  They’re in a thick, creamy sauce that could be a meal in itself.  There’s loads of it! Thank goodness we have the Stuffed Paratha to mop it up.  The bread is chewy, hot and cooked to perfection.  The rice is fluffy and separates well.  I love potatoes so eagerly dig into my share of the Saag Aloo.  I’m a little concerned in case the large potatoes might be hard in the middle as I’ve come across that problem at other restaurants.  I’m pleased to report these are soft and marinated in their spices.  The spinach is abundant and flavoursome.  My meal is perfect, but there’s too much here for me.  I feel a ‘doggy bag’ coming on.

Now to Hub’s ‘off-menu’ dish – Paneer Tikka Silsila.  Well, it’s superb.  When his attention’s diverted (yes, mobile phones are allowed at the table) I steal a cube of paneer.  Wow, it’s hot stuff!  But then Hub likes it that way. This is a dish, as Rahat explained, that Bangladeshi people would eat rather than the adapted dishes that are on the menu to cater for Western tastes.  We both love it.  The variety of flavours can be identified before they explode into a festival of heat on the tongue.  The paneer has a meaty texture and we’re so grateful the restaurant serves this for vegetarians.

Hub’s only complaint is that he has to sift through a number of whole spices – star anise, cinnamon bark, bay leaves, cardamom pods, etc.  He’s used to quaffing delicious food as quickly as possible.  Personally, I think a meal should be savoured so I’m pleased to see this dish slowing him down to my own speed.  As a result, we finish our meals at the same time for once!

The only disappointment of the evening is the dessert.  Somewhere, there must be a provider of frozen ice-cream dishes in tacky plastic containers shaped like elephants, coconut shells and birds.  They probably name these dishes and provide the menus.  I’m sure I’ve come across exactly the same desert menu elsewhere.  When they arrive, they’re straight from the freezer and hard as rocks.  The only true Indian desert is the Kulfi – Indian ice-cream – and this is available in various flavours.  We stick to the Irish coffee, which the Rajdutt make very well.

As predicted, I’ve had to request a ‘doggy bag,’ which doesn’t phase Tito.  Due to the size of the portions, it’s something they clearly provide often.  One of the nice things about big portions is that you get two meals for the price of one which adds to the great value.

We walk back to our car, and our way is lit by the decorative and tasteful illuminations on the white-painted building.  It stands alone to the side of the road a couple of miles from Uckfield on the Eastbourne Road.

We’ve had a lovely evening.  Beautiful décor, friendly, attentive and knowledgeable staff, an abundance of fresh and tasty food with the sheep in the surrounding fields bidding us ‘Goodnight’ in a sheepy way.

It’s worth a trip to enjoy a seated à la carte or a takeaway or , even better, a buffet and entry into the next scheduled quiz.

Rajdutt Restaurant, Eastbourne Road, Uckfield, East Sussex, TN22 5QL
Tel:  01825 890234

www.rajdutt.co.uk

Author

  • Maria Bligh

    Maria Bligh is a journalist, published author, professional speaker, singer and artist now settled in Sussex, UK, having previously travelled extensively throughout the UK and overseas, including a period living in Geneva. Married to a successful musician and with a background that encompasses working in the music industry, finance, sales and presentations training, she maintains a diverse existence. Her interests encompass travel, nature, animals and the arts: music, theatre, painting, writing and philosophy. Maria now writes for online and print magazines. Having once maintained a regular full page in “A Place In The Sun” magazine, travel is an obvious interest, but her articles also cover a wide variety of subjects. She bills herself as “an observer of the human condition and all that sail in her.” Maria has frequently appeared on radio & TV as well as in print. Her humorous style has seen her travel the world addressing audiences throughout Europe, Asia and Australasia and as a cruise-ship speaker with P&O and Fred Olsen.

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