Chuck Berry performed in Nottingham because he loved the city’s tikka masala

Mar 20, 2017

Chuck Berry, the late musician who helped lay the foundation for rock ’n’ roll, was serious about his Indian food.

He would sometimes even choose venues to perform at based on their proximity to Indian restaurants.

That’s why it is rumored he often played at the Nottingham Royal Concert Hall in the 1990s.

It’s across the street from an Indian restaurant called Mogal E Azam. The stage door is directly opposite the front door of the restaurant.

“He loved Indian food so much,” remembers Sujat Sheikh, the founder of the restaurant. “I cooked for him chicken tikka masala, and then I cooked jalfrezi and he liked that.”

Berry ate at the restaurant before his performances and then recommended the place to his audience, making jokes about curry during his set.

“And after the show, we were fully booked,” Sheikh says, “the whole restaurant.”

There’s a photo now, at Mogul E Azam, commemorating Berry’s patronage.

He’s not the only celebrity to have eaten at the restaurant considered the city’s oldest curry house, however. Since the eatery is near a concert hall, other stars have passed through. Like the Scottish comedian Billy Connolly (who even has a saag paneer named after him), the actor David Hasselhoff and more.

But to Sheikh, Chuck Berry stands out.

“I always will remember him,” he says.

Berry made an impression on Sheikh because of his passion for curry, not because of his music.

Sheikh says he prefers to listen to classic Bollywood artists, like Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi. He also likes Michael Jackson, he says. For a while, he held out hope that one day Jackson would visit the restaurant, as well.

But whether you’re famous or not, if you’re eating at Mogal E Azam, Sheikh still recommends either the tikka masala or the jalfrezi.

“Jalfrezi is a bit tastier,” he explains, “a bit spicier.”

From PRI's The World ©2016 PRI