Let's Eat

Spicing up her life with kosher Indian home delivery

Lawyer Katherine Bennett-Brownstein spotted a gap in the market for kosher curry and is cooking up a storm


In Katherine Bennett Brownstein’s kitchen, simmering pots of vibrantly coloured vegetables emit sumptuous smells of foreign lands, and the comforting scent of fragrant basmati rice lingers. It’s a hive of industrious energy.

The 32 year-old mother of three children under eight is preparing sag aloo, a traditional dish of potatoes and spinach, for one of her latest Indian take away orders. But this is no ordinary takeaway — it’s London’s first, homemade, kosher Indian takeaway — Curry by Kat.

The venture came about after a chat with a girlfriend who had recently set up her own business and inspired Brownstein, a government lawyer by day, to follow her dreams. “Although I enjoy my job, I don’t love it,” she says, “I know something is missing. The passion. And now I think I’ve found it — it’s cooking.”

The idea crystallised one day whilst watching Jamie Oliver on television making a familiar curry and she realised, “I could do that.” She set about researching the market. The last kosher Indian restaurant in London, Bet Ha’Madras, had recently closed, and there was some doubt whether people wanted kosher Indian anymore.

“I asked amongst my friends and family, and got some great feedback,” she explains. “Everyone wanted to be tasters of course. I put a message on my Facebook page, asking people what they thought. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Suddenly I was working in the evenings and on Sundays; people were paying me and I was loving it.” She delivers in Borehamwood (where she lives), and north west London, as far south as Finchley, for a small fee.

She first ate Indian cuisine as a child when her father cooked delicious hot curries at least once a week.

“We were known amongst our friends and family for our Indian themed seudas (festive meals eaten on late Shabbat afternoon) and as a child I would cook with my father. We used to go on big , family holidays with cousins and concoct fabulous, enormous Indian meals.”

Brownstein has never been to India, and feels a culinary tour of the country may be lost on her. “I keep kosher, so I wouldn’t be able to taste a lot of the dishes. I’d like to go there one day though.”

What attracts her to Indian cuisine is the amount of love and detail that goes into it. It’s also very sociable to eat.

“A traditional Indian banquet is served on a thali, a large dish or banana leaf, comprising of several small dishes. It’s a wonderful way of eating and you get to try lots of different plates. Everyone just tucks in, it’s perfect for families.”

Indian food is also generally very affordable cuisine as it doesn’t demand expensive ingredients. Brownstein makes regular trips to her favourite Indian shop in Kenton for specialist vegetables like okra and to stock up on exotic spices.

She experiments with recipes late at night, after her children are in bed, trying out new combinations of flavours and blending spices. A little more cumin or cardamom (for sweetness) added here or some fenugreek or coriander seeds (for a hint of sour) added there. She loves to make a mango chutney and another favourite is an aromatic dish with carrots, cashews and caramelised onions.

How authentic is her cooking or is it tempered to suit the English palate? “My menu is bespoke — I customise the spices depending on how hot people like their food. You can also choose your meat/chicken/vegetables and type of rice,” she says. “I have two regular clients whose in-laws are Indian Jews and they love my cooking so that’s great validation and a boost to my confidence.”

Curry By Kat is a fledgling cottage industry at the moment, but the business is taking off and she is fulfilling five orders a week. “Indian Friday night dinners are a popular order. Curry works well if you are keeping it hot for a while as it doesn’t overcook.”

As this busy mum is doing all the shopping, cooking and deliveries herself from her kosher (but not as yet kosher supervised) kitchen, it’s not quite an on-demand takeaway service yet.

“I need two days’ notice for orders and give notice on my Instagram and Facebook pages if slots are filling up. I also say what’s still available and when I’ll be away”. However, a faster turnaround may not be too far off in the future.

“In my ideal world I would love to do this full time. I wouldn’t want to be just another kosher restaurant, I want to keep the authenticity of homemade food, cooked from the heart. I am exhausted but I love it.”

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