Southall is known for its Indian restaurants and none is as iconic as the Brilliant. Now run by the third generation of the Anand family, it has been a local favourite since it opened in 1975. Today, it is managed by Dipna Anand and her brother Shanker. To find out more, Speak Up talked with Dipna, who is a celebrity chef in her own right. She began by telling us about the migratory route of the restaurant.
Dipna Anand (Indian accent): My grandfather started the first Brilliant restaurant, nightclub and hotel in Kenya, Nairobi, in the 1950s, in a place called Ngara. But then, to cut a long story short, there was a political issue with Idi Amin, and the family had to migrate to the UK. When people in the UK found out that the Brilliant team from Kenya are now in the UK, they started giving them small orders. So my dad and his family would cook from a garage for, you know, fifty-sixty people. And that’s how they started, until one fine day my dad and his brother Kewar saw a small property that was available to be converted into a restaurant and took over on 72 Western Road and started the first Brilliant restaurant.
Southall in the 1970s already had a large South Asian population. The Anand family had friends and relatives living there and, in Dipna’s words, “destiny just brought them to the right place!”
Dipna Anand: I think they fitted in quite easily and the community was just so thankful to have a great Indian restaurant in the local area because, slowly, a lot of people from Kenya started also migrating to the UK, and those customers from Kenya started to then visit the restaurant in Southall. And as the years went by the customers from Kenya started to bring their children and then their children bring their children, so the restaurant in Southall has seen quite a few generations.
A few decades on, and the Brilliant has become a local institution, visited not only by residents, but also by visitors including Bollywood actors and, at one time, the former Prince Charles. But is there still the same tight-knit community? Does Southall still deserve the nickname Little India? Dipna believes it does.
Dipna Anand: There’s lots and lots of Indians still living in Southall, and I don’t think that will ever change because I think it’s a hub for the Indian community. We have our temples on our doorstep, we have all these great Indian mithai shops. We have the Southall Broadway, where you can get the nicest Indian clothing and jewellery. And it’s just nice to be living somewhere like that. You just feel proud that everyone in Britain respects the Indian culture so much.
Southall: London’s Little India