The building used to be an old electrical shop, and older Bradfordians might remember buying brand new video recorders there in the 80s.
The location is what makes it an undiscovered gem for many curry-lovers. It’s miles away from the busy areas housing the likes of Akbars and Zouk on Leeds Road, or the Kashmir or Omar Khan’s in the city centre.
The decor is minimalist and stylish, which is no surprise because owner Harry Khinda has renovated several properties in the past, and has an eye for detail and design.
From India to Bradford
Harry had always dreamed of setting up an Indian restaurant. His parents came to Bradford from India, and after a trip to India in 2005 he decided he had to take the plunge.
He saw the then empty shop whilst stuck in traffic, and says: “It was an empty shell, but I knew I could turn it into something special.”
Harry’s attention to detail and eye for quality is evident in his food just as it is in the interiors, and it didn’t go unnoticed by some very important visitors.
Just two years after opening, Zaara’s was listed in the Michelin guide, and that’s no easy feat. Anonymous inspectors visit restaurants multiple times to ensure the quality is consistent. Zaara’s is one of only a couple of indian restaurants in Yorkshire to be listed.
In 2014 Zaara’s was voted for by the public to be one of four restaurants representing Bradford’s bid for the Curry Capital title. As you may already know, Bradford won that year.
Traditional and wholesome
The meals Harry has created at Zaara’s are based on old family recipes that his mother, Jasvinder, has always cooked for the family.
Harry describes them as ‘wholesome, natural, Indian food’, but is quick to point out that they don’t use a lot of oils, fats, or food colourings, plus “everything is fresh, our veg is fresh from the market on a morning”.
Look at one of their meals, and you won’t see fat or oil floating to the surface. Being a takeout as well as a sit-down dining experience, Harry is rightfully proud of their health credentials.
When Harry’s family came over to Bradford in the 1960s, they had to experiment with Western ingredients. This led to making a lot of curried eggs and baked beans, a popular dish for many Indian newcomers to Bradford at the time as they tried to recreate the tastes of home.
The egg and baked bean curry won’t be finding its way onto Zaara’s menu, although if enough of us ask for it you never know.
However, one of Zaara’s most popular items is the sweet samosa. It’s exactly like a vegetable samosa, but with the savoury filling replaced with cherry and mascarpone, and served it with vanilla ice cream.