About the Raj

The Raj Restaurant was originally established by Feroze Ahmed in 1981. He sadly passed away in 2000, but passed on the Raj to his son Hasan who shared his father's passion for Indian restaurant food and has kept the Raj running just as his father would have liked.

Feroze Ahmed

1936 2000

Feroze was born in 1936 in Sunamgonj, which was then a part of Assam, in North East British India, under the Raj. Sunamgonj then became a part of East Pakistan in 1947 before changing to Bangladesh in 1971.

Village in Sunamgong in Bangladesh
The village in Sunamgong where Feroze previously lived

After completing his high school education, he left the Indian sub-continent to further his education in Oxford. As a student, Feroze worked part-time in the English owned Cobra Indian restaurant as a waiter, later becoming the manager.

In the summer of 1958 he and a partner founded Bristol’s first Indian restaurant, the Taj Mahal in Stokes Croft.

Taj Mahal, Stokes Croft, Bristol 1970s
Ferose at Bristol's first Indian restaurant the Taj Mahal in the early 1970s

In the early sixties they opened The Kohinor in Denmark Street and The Kismot in Old Market. In 1972 they took over The Fry Pan on Whiteladies Road opposite the BBC Studios, which they ran as an English restaurant in the day and as an Indian restaurant, Taj Mahal in the evenings. This novel concept carried on successfully until 1978 when the landlords turned the restaurant into offices which were more profitable for them.

The frying pan and Taj Mahal restaurant
The novel restaurant concept of English by day and Indian by night

In 1974 he embarked on his first solo venture opening the famous Maharaja on Cheltenham Road, near The Arches, where he installed a Tandoori oven and employed a specialist Tandoori chef from London. This was the first mainstream restaurant in Bristol to offer Tandoori meals and was an overnight success. Soon he expanded by opening The Kanna Pinna in London, which was also very popular.

Raj Restaurant in early 1980s

In 1980 he took a big gamble by opening a restaurant in one of Bristol's most expensive areas; this was of course the Raj. Shortly after opening the Raj he was sadly knocked back after suffering a serious heart attack. As a result of ill health throughout the eighties he sold all his businesses save his pride and joy, The Raj. He sold the restaurants in the belief that his children would not be interested in the restaurant trade. In 1996 his eldest son, Hasan, took over the running of his favourite restaurant to his great delight. He taught Hasan all he had learned during his years in the trade and encouraged him to keep up his high standards. Feroze enjoyed his retirement, often travelling to his former homestead in Bangladesh. Following a period of illness he sadly passed away in November 2000.

Feroze Ahmaed behind the bar in the Raj Restaurant

Feroze behind the bar of the Raj in the early days