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Bangladeshi Chefs Dominate the Stockholm Curry Scene

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Download Like most major european cities, Stockholm has its share of indian restaurants.

But the Indian Garden restarurant, set on a backstreet in the capital, is in a class of its own.

The chef and owner has just won the Curry Life Award in London, the highest honour for a curry based restaurant in Europe.  

Ric Wasserman spent a hectic day following the star Bangladeshi chef.


Mohammed Rezaul Karim is concentrating.

He’s adding an array of different spices to several 10 litre pots bubbling on the stove.

This morning he’ll make 30 litres each of four different sauces. And that’s only for today’s lunch.

”Now I’m making sambal sauce, korma sauce and chicken tikka masala sauce...every morning we prepare everything fresh and we make our spice freshly, ginger and garlic paste, corriander cumin. Everything in a special mixing.”

With one eye on the pots, Karim deftly scoops up various spices, herbs and condiments from a two tiered rack next to the stove, blending them carefully.

Karim grew up in Sylhet, in the north of Bangladesh.

The kitchen is usually the womans place in Bangladesh, but Karims mother noticed  early on his interest in her cooking, and encouraged him to learn.

”When my mom made any special food so I look how she can make this. So I follow everything. At 9, 10 yrs my mom said you are very interested to make food. How can make fish, dal, vegetable, so I learned this from my mom.”

18 years old, Karim arrived in Sweden and started working as a cook at the Indian Garden restaurant in Stockholm.

He bought it six years later, and turned it into one of the most popular eateries in town.

He now has two locations, and 45 fulltime employees. All bangladeshis.

Few Indians work in the indian restaurant business in Sweden.

While the majority are run by bangladeshis,  they’re nearly all called indian restaurants, not bangladeshi.

Karim explains:

”Our culture is the same, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan. We were the same country. Same culture, same food ,same spice. Whole Europe knows Indian food, indian food, indian food. Not bangladeshi food. Somebody opens bangladesh, tandoori or bengali, so this is not popular.”

And this place is wildly popular.

Karims Indian Garden has won the swedish culinary Golden Dragon Award twice for the best moderately priced restaurant in the country.

Then last year Karim’s restaurant won first prize beating out 400 competeing chefs in the taste of Britain Curry festival.

Now, the sky is the limit, says restaurant manager Papel Khan.

Together with chef Karim, they hope for a star in the famous Michelin Guide Restaurant Book.

”He’s the man who created the food. He became the most innnovative curry chef in the whole of Europe then we have to look for something better because we don’t want to stay where we are. So we plan for one star in the Guide Michelin. It's a very ,very hard job to get it, but you have to have a dream. And you have to work for it.”

Tonight, like every night all the tables are booked.

The aromatic smell of sizzling tandoori chicken wafts in the air. But Karim suggests I try a selection from his Mughal treats list.

These are original recipies from the early 16th century Mughal period in India that he’s rediscovered on his trips to Bengal.

I treated myself to a Mughal Mango Chicken Tikka Masala.

A mouthwatering grilled chicken file with fresh mango slices, butter, cream, cashew nuts and tomatoes, mixed in a yoghurt sauce.

Lasse Smedman, sitting at a nearby table was more than satissfied.

”I must say, I had a glorious meal. It was a wonderful dish with shrimps that were prepared in spices. But not really strong sauce. I really enjoyed it.”

Most of all, Indian Garden’s manager say he wants to change peoples concept of what they should be looking for when dining:

”A good restaurant with indian food, instead of an indian restaurant with good food.”


Learn English:

1) array: berbagai macam atau susunan

2) bubbling: mendidih

3) condiments: bumbu

4) eateries:restoran

5) the sky is the limit: cita-cita setinggi langit  

6) moderately priced: harga sedang

7) mouthwatering:menggiurkan 

8) cashew nuts: kacang mete 

9) corriander cumin: ketumbar jinten 

10) rediscovered: menemumkan kembali


1. What is the name of one of the most popular restaurants in Stockholm and  who runs it?

2. What kinds of awards has this restaurant gotten and what are some of the mouthwatering dishes?

3. How does the star chef prepare his meals and how many people work there?

4. Since when has the chef been interested in cooking and how did he turn it into a big success?

5. What is the restaurant's dream and how do they plan on achieving it?

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 01 June 2011 11:32 )  

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