CHEF'S DISH: Lesley Draper talks to Grindleford's curry queen Sarah Dadswell

Grindleford is renowned for its picturesque setting, its community spirit '“ and now, surprisingly, for its curries.

Thursday, 14th April 2016, 9:38 am
Updated Thursday, 14th April 2016, 12:32 pm
Masala Dosa, as cooked by Grindleford chef Sarah Dadswell

Sarah Dadswell is the proprietor of small family business the Hilltop CurryHouse, which specialises in South Indian cuisine.

She started the enterprise in Grindleford last year, with a wish to bring exciting new flavours to the Hope Valley. And its launch coincided with the arrival of the Grindleford Community Shop, currently based in the village church, which became the first place to sell her curries.

Sarah Dadswell at work in the Grindleford Community Shop

Sarah’s family came to the UK from Muttical, Kerala, in 1958 and her nan brought with her all the flavours of her home: mustard seeds, dried red chillies, curry leaves and mangoes.

Sarah’s favourite family image is of the grandchildren being sent to lean over the bathtub to feast on newly-ripened mangoes, dripping with juice.

The Hilltop Curry House brings together years of ‘cooking with the aunties’ to produce a range of aromatic curries, all gluten-free, cooked from locally-sourced ingredients and freshly roasted spices, and easily heated up at home.

Hilltop curries remain a favourite at the community-run Grindleford Shop: “I’m enormously grateful to the shop and its customers who have supported me from the start,” says Sarah – who now has three other stockists including Beeches of Walkley and Whites at Calver. She also welcomes enquiries for bulk orders and catering for special events.

Sarah Dadswell at work in the Grindleford Community Shop

Her love of food and fabulous ingredients has been fed by 30 years of travel and hospitality: from summers in France, to a year in Russia and 15 as a cultural and trekking guide in over 30 counties from Morocco and Iran to Bhutan and Vietnam.

“There’s no better place to be on trek than in the cook tent,” says Sarah. Here professional cooks inspired her by turn out top-class three-course meals in all conditions and weather.

“This hospitality is at the heart of the Hilltop Curry House and it really is from my table, to yours.”

Sarah’s signature dish is masala dosa, again associated with her aunties in Bangalore.

“It’s the perfect food to eat with your hands, filled with flavour from curry leaves, red chilli, mustard seeds and turmeric, accompanied with delicious chutneys and sambar,” she says.

Sarah praises the abundance of great Asian ingredients in Sheffield – which also brings her food journey full circle.

The people who run Durga Stores on Abbeydale Road come from the same part of Kerala as her family.

Recipe by Sarah Dadswell

Hilltop masala dosa, (serves 8)



300g raw short grain rice

100g split skinless black gram

½ tsp fenugreek seeds

4 tsp sunflower oil


3 tblsp sunflower oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

½ tsp asafoetida

2 tsp dried split chickpeas

4 green chillies, chopped

1 sprig fresh curry leaves

3 red onions, chopped

6 large potatoes, boiled & crushed

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp sea salt

20g coriander, chopped

1 ½ tbsp lemon juice


Wash rice thoroughly and soak in 650ml water. Wash dal and fenugreek; soak in 300ml water. Leave both to soak for at least four hours.

Drain rice and liquidise with 350ml water until smooth; transfer to a large bowl. Liquidise gram and fenugreek to a smooth paste and add to rice. Add salt and whisk lightly with a fork. The mixture needs to ferment, so cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for six hours or overnight. It’s ready when it’s bubbled a little and feels lighter in texture.

For the filling, add oil to a heavy-bottomed pan. When hot add mustard seeds and heat until they start to splutter. Immediately lower heat and add asafoetida, then chickpeas. Keep stirring until golden brown (1 minute). Add chillies and curry leaves until they crinkle, then onions. Sauté until onions are transparent. Add turmeric and salt, stir well, then add potato. Remove from heat and stir until the entire mixture has turned golden. Finally add coriander and lemon juice and stir. Set aside.

Fry the dosas. You may need to add a little water if mixture has thickened. Heat a flat non-stick crepe or griddle pan and season with a little oil. Remove, let pan cool slightly (to help batter spread). Put a ladle of batter in the centre and use back of ladle to spread it in circles from centre, as thin as you can. Drizzle a teaspoon of oil round the outside; heat until dosa dries out. Flip for a short time then flip back, put filling on one side and fold in half.


Serve immediately with coconut chutney and sambar.