Ballater restaurant eyes another prize

Raj: Outside India on the Green, shortlisted for Restaurant of the Year
Raj: Outside India on the Green, shortlisted for Restaurant of the Year

Ballater’s India on the Green has become the first Indian restaurant to be shortlisted for the Highlands & Islands Restaurant of the Year award.

The shortlists in previous years have been dominated by seafood restaurants, and hotels serving more traditional Scottish quisine.

But last month, Owner and Chef of India on the Green, Raj, received the news that they had made the shortlist - making them the first Indian restaurant to do so in the history of the Highlands & Islands Food and Drink Awards (HIFD Awards).

Raj said: “The HIFD Awards is totally different to competitions we’ve been in before - this is against everyone.

“To go into this category, you have to be in with the best. Ordinary Indian restaurants can’t go into this, it’s fine dining, high-class.”

India on the Green is only two-and-a-half years old but already has a string of accolades piling up.

In 2014, it won the Best Newcomer category at the Asian Food Awards, and the same year, Raj was a finalist in the All Scotland Chef competition - an Iron Chef-style, three-stage open kitchen tournament.

Raj describes the dishes they serve as being “unlike anything else you would get in an Indian restaurant” - he serves crocodile, monkfish and venison, as well as the usual chicken and lamb.

He added: “The house rule in my kitchen is, every new chef, no matter who they are, starts their basic training again. I get some of the best chefs in that taught me, so whenever they’re learning, I’m learning something new too.”

India on the Green is now up against the five other shortlisted entrants, each to be visited by numerous unknown, unannounced judges over the next few months, aiming to be crowned HI Restaurant of the Year.