The Thali Cafe, Bristol (pictured above)
Taj Mahal, Bridport
Locals can get watery eyed when they talk about the Taj Mahal in Bridport a consistently good Indian that has been run by the same couple Rafique and Helen Choudhury for more than 25 years. Hugh Fearnley Whittingshall even asked the Choudhurys to knock up a rabbit tikka curry for a recent Channel 4 series. Traditional cooking to the highest standard, fans go for staples such as lamb passanda and king prawn massala. Try the maharajah set meal for 2: samosa and chicken tikka to start, lamb karahi, chicken tikka masala, aloo gobi, saag and bhindi, pilau rice, naan and popadums £30.95. A lovely restaurant run by lovely people. Takeaways available.
Mint and Mustard, Taunton
Looking for something out of the ordinary? Then it has to be Mint and Mustard in Taunton which serves contemporary Indian food with a twist. The food here really is spectacular - splash out on the wallet busting tasting menu ( £37.50 pp) and you'll see what we mean – crispy soft shell crab fried with curry leaves, seared seabass in mango ginger and coconut, slow braised lamb with aromatic spices, butternut squash and black eyed peas simmered in spiced cocunut. Traditional curries – tikka masala, tandoori are here too but strictly no takeaways. It's not that kind of place.
Dorset locals are fiercely loyal to Chutneys in Shaftesburys which has eased many an ex-Londoner's pain at leaving easy access to great Indian food behind. Strictly no flocked wallpaper here, the decor is modern, the cooking is brilliant. Experiment with tandoori rack of lamb served on massala mashed potato or go for the trad comfort dishes of korma, tikka masala and passanda - the food never disappoints and the staff are wonderful. Takeaways available.
Kathmandu Palace, Truro
Light, fresh Nepalese cooking from this traditional restaurant which places emphasis on using the freshest ingredients. Come here for the classics – tandoori mixed grill, lamb passanda, chicken jalfrezi all perfectly cooked so that meat remains beautifully tender. Regulars go wild about the Nepali dumplings made with either vegetables or lamb and served with pickle, also Chicken Nepal – battered chicken cooked with chilli, coriander and Everest Lamb, pan fried strips of lamb cooked with spices and crispy peppers. Knock out cooking in the heart of Cornwall.
Viceroy, Dunkeswell, Devon
A brilliant restaurant that offers classic dishes alongside the inventive in a modern setting. Best of all is the Bangladeshi cooking – try Pangash Kata Massala , fish fillets cooked with baby potatoes in a spicy sauce, Masala Chapey – lamb chops cooked with chilli, cloves, coriander and mustard oil over charcoal and Shank Kata Masala – braised lamb with ginger, garlic and garam masala in a thick sauce. We’re liking the sound of Crocodile Tears – chicken marinated in dill, fennel, honey and mustard oil, tandoori roasted and finished with a pineapple sauce. Takeaway available.
The Thali Café, Bristol
This place has legions of fans who remember its earliest incarnation as a curry stall at Glastonbury, The Big Chill and Shambala Festival. They like to do things differently here - the emphasis is on ethical, well sourced food with live music, art on sale and the odd vintage fair along with your spice. The thalis, of course, are something else. Try the Southern Thali, a Goa Almond Chicken Curry with roasted ground almonds, cardamom and cream or sweet potato dumplings cooked with ginger, curry leaves and coconut. Worth a road trip this one.
Brunel Raj, Bristol
If you're looking for a classic Indian restaurant with spectacular cooking, you've come to the right place. In the heart of chi-chi Clifton, Brunel Raj was set up by 4 brothers, sons of Kutub Uddin Ahmed who started London's legendary Noor Jahan in the 1950s. Fans travel miles for crispiest popadums, chicken madras, lamb shashlick, lamb balti and tandoori mixed grill - classics cooked to perfection. The best ingredients are always used, expect to pay a little more. Fab takeaways too.
Anokkaa in Salisbury
The emphasis here in on modern, evolved Indian cooking that shies away from the traditional. How about a starter of roasted Welsh lamb - robustly flavoured with ginger and coriander, finished in velvet coating of mint and wild berry sauce? Or perhaps duck jaalsha - lean duck pieces cooked over with apricot, ginger and white wine, simmered in cream of coconut, bayleaf and cardamon? Bargain hunters should rock up for the lunchtime buffet where you can sample this stellar cooking for only £8.95. Or if you feel like splashing out Anokaa will deliver a full Indian meal to your home along with a chef to serve it. That could really take the sting out of dinner parties.
Spice Gallery, North Petherton, Somerset
Our readers are big fans of Spice Gallery and now we've checked out the menu we can see why. Wow, it sounds so good - crispy duck fried in a Gujrati spice batter, tossed with yogurt, curry leaves and green chillies; king prawns marinated in lime and turmeric, in a pepper, onion and fennel masala. We could name anything from this menu and you'd be up for it. And, by the way, there's a free bottle of Prosecco for every booking in December which is kind of nice and Christmassy, isn't it?
The Eastern Eye, Bath
And now for something completely different. Finding the Eastern Eye in the heart of Bath is a challenge in itself, an unprepossessing doorway which leads upstairs to a magnificent Georgian room and an old style restaurant serving very fine Indian food. Welcome to the colonial India of old, the smell of spice in the air, the room punctuated with beautiful stone columns, maharajah style. Come here for tandoori, the speciality, fish, chicken and meat marinated in yoghurt and spice then cooked in the traditional clay oven. Much loved institution in this pretty Georgian town which won't disappoint. Also highly recommended in Bath is Rajpoot on Argyle St.