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Known across the city for its ‘reyt good curreh’ with a perfect fusion of Sheffield and India, Ashoka is a restaurant and takeaway that has always played by its own rules.

Established in 1967 on Ecclesall Road, the quirky independent recently earned a spot on The Times’ list of best curry houses in Britain. It was also named in the 2018 edition of the Good Food Guide, one of only 52 Indian restaurants to be included. These accolades are testament to the quality of food as well as the unique personality that has endeared Sheffielders to the restaurant over the decades.

Kamal Ahmed, a young Bengali who had no industry experience except waiting tables, founded the curry house and introduced the real flavours of Indian cooking to the neighbourhood. Long before multiculturalism entered the mainstream, he was able to win diners over with radically different food. “It was seen as exotic,” says the current owner, Rahul Amin. “He really went above and beyond in terms of the design of the place. Ashoka used to use silver cutlery made in Sheffield, which no one else did, and the menus were written by hand in calligraphy.” 

That flair for standing out in the crowd remains with Ashoka today. The restaurant recently got a new look inspired by the Irani cafes of Mumbai which features a monochrome tiled floor, tiffin boxes and wooden tables. These classic touches make it feel homely, yet unlike most other curry houses, and the menu reflects this too. You won’t find the much-loved Taxi Driver Curry anywhere but Ashoka, because it was created specially by the restaurant. Karai, kashmiri and biryani jostle for diners’ attention alongside lamb chops, chicken tikka and butter naans from the traditional charcoal tandoor.

The restaurant’s tagline is ‘inspired by India, made in Sheffield’ and that really sums up the approach to its food, with menus comprising a mixture of British classics and classical dishes from northern India.

Read about more of Sheffield’s finest independent businesses in ‘The Little Book of Sheffield’, available to purchase online here

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