Thursday, 18 September 2008

Residents experience Indian restaurant’s innovation and authenticity

NEIGHBOURS and other residents in a Somerset market town have been given a preview of an innovative new Indian restaurant which has brought the authentic taste of the sub-continent to their doorsteps.
Moorkhana opened its doors in Wiveliscombe with a special preview party for local residents as a ‘thank you’ for their support in recent weeks, which included neighbours helping owners Mignon and Andrew Johnson clear up after a graffiti attack.
A formal opening event is still being planned for the family-friendly restaurant, which serves meals between 6 pm and 10 pm on Wednesdays to Saturdays and lunchtimes by prior arrangement.
The Moorkhana ethos is distinctive among Indian restaurants in the UK as its menu, which changes weekly, comprises entirely authentic dishes cooked just as they would be in most communities in India.
For instance, dishes are of mild to medium strength, and customers need to make a special request if they want them prepared any hotter.
Mignon, who is an Indian national, said: “True Indian food is not blisteringly hot, but has a range of exquisite flavours which are often lost when it is typically prepared in this country with too much spiciness.
“With Moorkhana, we are trying to dispel many of the myths about Indian food and educate our customers to better understand and enjoy what they are eating.
“We use authentic recipes which have been handed down through generations of my family, so this is how the food would taste if you were actually in India.”
Almost all of Moorkhana’s food products are organic and sourced as locally as possible, again just as they would be in India, including organic chicken from Chitcombe Farm, Huish Champflower, Thorne’s Butchers, Exmoor Ales, Cotleigh Brewery, The Wine Shed, and the organic co-operative Somerset Organic Link.
Moorkhana has already created several new jobs for the town, most of which have been filled by local people, and is also offering a training opportunity for a curry chef, of which there is a shortage in the UK.
The surrounding business community is also being supported through a function room which is available for local organisations, while each room is also used as a gallery to display paintings by local artists which are available to be purchased.
Moorkhana also operates an environmentally-friendly takeaway service, using stainless steel tiffins which customers retain and reuse each time they visit.
Moorkhana is the trading name of The Saffron Kitchen, which built a reputation across much of the Westcountry through farmers’ markets in towns such as Taunton, Wellington, Cotford St Luke, Minehead, Exeter, Crewkerne, and Glastonbury.
The business enjoys a five star environmental health rating which means it has an ‘excellent level of compliance’ with food safety regulations and is ‘highly confident in management of food safety’.
More information about the Moorkhana restaurant is available from Mignon and Andrew Johnson by telephoning 01984 623648 or by visiting the website
  • Our photograph shows Mignon Johnson (standing, centre) with some of the preview party guests, who included local BBC television reporter Clinton Rogers (standing, left) and former Kingsmead School head teacher Brian Collingridge (standing, right), who is now a parish councillor. Photo submitted.

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