SO POPULAR is the idea of ‘going for a curry’, dishes like balti and chicken tikka masala, are among our favourite national dishes. But that wasn’t always the case.

When Moznu Miah opened his first restaurant in Oxford’s Cowley Road in 1973, his was one of just three ‘curry houses’ in the city. Since then he has seen us fall in love with spice – a passion which persists to this day. And with the country on lockdown over coronavirus, the prospect of beautifully-cooked curry is one of the few treats still available to us.

“It is something which cheers everybody up,” says Mr Miah, who is the proprietor of Tiffins Tandoori in Kidlington. “We all need a treat now and then and a good curry is comforting and something to look forward to.”

With a heavy heart, Mr Miah closed his Kidlington High Street restaurant when lockdown began, but was inundated with requests for the exceptional food cooked by him and his wife Monwara Begum so stayed open for takeaways.

“We have so many regular customers who were asking if we could still prepare their favourite dishes for them to eat at home,” he says. “We have always done takeaways so we decided to continue.”

And business is brisk – not least because, with all of us more conscious of good hygiene than ever before, Tiffins has always had a top five-star rating. “People feel confident ordering from us,” says Mr Miah, who keeps a spotless kitchen and is obsessed with cleanliness. “We have also maintained our five-star rating and take health and hygiene very seriously.”

And NHS staff are among his keenest customers. To show his support for frontline health workers. he is offering a popular 20 per cent discount to all NHS staff.

“They are doing a great job saving lives,” he says sincerely.

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Like so many ‘Indian’ restaurateurs, father-of-three Mr Miah hails from present day Bangladesh, specifically, lush, prosperous Sylhet, a sub-tropical city famed for producing the best tea, sailors and curry.

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His first restaurant was the legendary Moonlight Tandoori, in Cowley Road. He also ran branches of Tiffins in Abingdon and Brackley, but is now content running just Tiffins in Kidlington.

“I love Oxford,” smiles the 63 year-old Marston resident. “When I moved here in 1973 I opened the third Indian restaurant in the city – and had the very first tandoori oven. Back then, people would ask for a Madras or vindaloo with half-chips and half-rice. Now people are more open to authentic recipes with proper ingredients and spices. Eating habits have changed too, from many people coming in after the pubs closed, in the 80s and 90s, to now coming out much earlier with the family. I have seen some things over the years though!”

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He adds: “I have seen so many changes. When I arrived on Cowley Road, a recession was on and everything was closed. Then in the 80s restaurants of all nationalities opened and you could eat food from around the world. It was always good. Then when I went to Kidlington I fell in love with the place and the community.

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“I have so many regular customers, some from very far away – from as far as Banbury, Reading and even Birmingham who come when they can. People love us.”

Part of the appeal is the restaurant’s intimate ambience. It’s an un-commercial, charmingly old-fashioned place which combines the atmosphere of a cosy restaurant and friendly bar with the homely feel of a front room. But, with the country on lockdown, it is Mr Miah’s cooking which is the real draw. So what is his secret?

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“The right spices, freshest ingredients and authentic recipes, with food cooked with care and passion,” he says. “People are so bored at home but we are helping to keep spirits up.”

  • Tiffins Tandoori is at 63 High St, Kidlington. Phone: 01865 372245 or go to
  • 20% discount for NHS staff