For National Curry Week we wanted to look at pairing curry with gin cocktails, so we visited Indian Street Food bar Bundobust, in Leeds, to see how it’s done.
After pairing gin with curry last year we wanted to look into some great gin cocktails that could stand up to, and even enhance, great Indian food. So we sought out an expert, MarKo, joint owner of Bundobust.
Since launching in 2014 Bundobust has become one of the most well-known and well-loved nightspots in Leeds. Their unique concept combines Indian street food, specifically vegetarian Gujarati food, with craft beer and spirits. They look for drinks that will really pair well with spicy cuisine and dishes that are perfect bar snacks for a relaxed atmosphere. As Marko puts it: “We’re doing curry and beer, in an elevated way, but still with a chilled out vibe.”
As well as their fantastic beer selection, Bundobust also make awesome cocktails, so we asked Marko to do some pairing for us, combining 3 great gin cocktails with 3 of their best dishes.
Bundobust’s Negroni doesn’t stray too far from the classic; Pickerings 1947 gin, Cocchi Amaro Vermouth and Campari. There is an Indian twist though, Pickerings 1947 is heavy on the Indian botanicals, particularly the cardamom and coriander, so it really fits with all of their food.
The Negroni is smooth and light with a dry bitter kick that makes it a perfect aperitif. Since the cocktail itself is so strongly flavoured, Marco has paired it with possibly the lightest dish on the menu, far far; lightly spiced and salted savoury rice puffs. They make a great bar snack and work as a palate cleanser between sips of this delightful negroni.
Bundobust take on a bramble cocktail is made similarly, using Portobello Road gin, but with all the elements that would traditionally be blackberry swapped for mango or rose. The end result is one of the best cocktails we’ve ever tasted, refreshing, delicate and beautiful. It is light, fruity, tart and sweet in perfect balance.
The Bundo Chaat is Bundobust’s signature dish. Think of an Indian take on nachos. Samosa pastry, noodles, tamarind chutney, chickpeas, yoghurt and potato are all piled high on a plate in a mix of creamy, spicy and sweet flavours and a cavalcade of different textures. The tamarind chutney matches the bramble well, bringing out the sweetness of the drink while the creamy yoghurt sauce tempers the citrus. The two work sublimely together.
A Red Snapper is a gin take on a Bloody Mary and Bundobust make theirs with tomato juice, Henderson’s relish (instead of the traditional Worcestershire sauce because Henderson’s is vegetarian and made in Yorkshire) their chef’s special hot sauce, tabasco, fresh lemon juice, celery salt and black pepper.
Marko has paired it with the egg bhurji, a spiced take on scrambled egg. The eggs are creamy and sweet which balances out the sharp tang of the Red Snapper. Equal parts comforting and invigorating this is a delightful breakfast combo and is served on weekends as Bundobust’s brunch special.
Having treated us to some great food and drink, we had a chat with Marko about how Bundobust got started and what’s next for the place.
Hi Marko, can you tell us a little bit about how Bundobust began?
I set up The Sparrow Bier Cafe in Bradford back in 2011 with my business partner Les Hall. That was a small bar focused on craft beers and was a great success for us. (Marko doesn’t brag about it but they won CAMRA Pub of the Year for Bradford in 2012).
After a few years Prashad, an award winning Indian restaurant making vegetarian Gujarati food, got in touch with us to see if we were interested in doing some food and beer pairing events, both at their restaurant and at our bar. We did a few and got a really impressive response, people seemed to enjoy the idea and connect with it. Prashad were in a position to open a second site and we were in a position to open a new bar so we came up with the concept to put the beer and the food together, and Bundobust was born.
Where did the name come from?
It means collaboration and symbolises the coming together of both businesses as well as all the other collaborations in the concept; Britain and India, beer and curry, street food and cocktails.
What’s the reaction been like?
People seem to like it! We’ve been really busy since opening. It’s an easy concept to like, everyone likes Indian food and it pairs quite naturally with beer. We’ve added a twist, since we’re doing more unusual beers (as well as cocktails) and Indian street food instead of your typical masalas but people seem to like the concept.
What have been people’s favourites?
The Bundo Chaat is sort of our signature dish and, really, you can’t go wrong with it. It’s just the best beer food ever in my opinion. People also go for the Vada Pav, a deep fried spicy mashed potato burger topped with green chutney and served in a brioche bun. So it’s carbs and carbs, very tasty and good for soaking up beer. Oh, and you need to try the okra fries.
Drink wise, we’re really happy with our own exclusive beer, Bombay Dazzler, which is made in partnership with Northern Monk. It’s an Indian whit beer made with a Belgian yeast but spiced with Indian spices such as cardamom, coriander and ginger. It works with most of the menu.
Since we’re a gin site, have you got a favourite gin?
I like Portobello, which is why it’s our house pour. I find it to just be a good quality example of a classic gin.
What’s next for Bundobust?
We’re opening a second location in Manchester at the end of the year. The aim is to hopefully have a small group of sites across the country but there’s a lot to get done in Manchester first. When people get a chance to check it out it’ll be a bigger location than our Leeds bar but with the same menu and relaxed friendly vibe.
Head on over to the Bundobust site where you can check out their menu in full as well as get news on upcoming special events and find out all about the new Manchester opening.
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