Sujan Katuwal beams with pride as he recalls winning big at the London Curry Awards last week.

He has invited News Shopper to sample some of his recipes at Panas Gurkha on Lee High Road after the restaurant scooped Best Nepalese Restaurant and Best South East London Restaurant at the prestigious ceremony.

He has been running the popular restaurant alongside his wife, Bandana, since 2011.

The father-of-two who has been living in the UK for more than 20 years says: “I had always wanted to open a restaurant but when you come from a foreign land it’s difficult.”

After training with established Indian chef Atul Kochhar, who Sujan described as a “father figure,” he decided to open Panas Gurkha.

“We’re not a multi-million pound company but me and my wife worked hard and saved our hard earned money,” Sujan tells News Shopper.

The restaurant, which offers typical curry-house style dishes as well as Nepalese delicacies, aims to make its customers feel as comfortable as If they were eating in their own homes.

“When we opened I told my staff to let customers feel like they are at home; to treat them how you would like to be treated.”

And their hospitality paid off when Sujan and Bandana’s customers nominated them in the 2019 London Curry Awards – which they were unaware of until a few days before.

“We had absolutely no idea,” Sujan chuckles.

Sujan described the tension while he and Bandana waited to hear who had won the Best Nepalese Restaurant Award.

“We were saying, ‘please Panas, please Panas’.”

And when Panas Gurkha was announced as the winner, the couple were overwhelmed with emotion.

“I cried. It was like more than winning the lottery.”

After trying Sujan’s food, it’s easy to see how Panas Gurkha won over its customers.

We are offered mouth-watering dumplings accompanied by spicy sauce which are packed full of flavour and perfect for sharing.

For our main course, Sujan’s chefs cook up lamb in a pumpkin sauce and stir-fried chicken with spring onion and chilli.

“I always say this - my restaurant is not the best restaurant but my food is the best,” Sujan says, proudly.

After their success at the London Curry Awards, Sujan and Bandana are setting their sights on the national awards, hoping their food and hospitality will bring them more success.