The chef Vivek Singh is busy doing for Indian cooking in this country what Raymond Blanc has already done for French cuisine.

While once we thought of South Asian food only in terms of ‘going for a curry’ along with a few beers, this visionary restaurateur has taken familiar dishes from his homeland, given them a contemporary twist and established them as the pinnacle of fine dining.

One of the UK’s best-known chefs, Vivek is a regular face on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen and MasterChef and is frequently seen helping out in his Cinnamon Kitchen restaurants in London and on top of the Westgate in Oxford. The author of six cookery books, Vivek calls into the city tomorrow for a date with the Oxford Literary Festival, where he will talk about his latest book, Vivek Singh’s Indian Festival Feasts, his life in food and how he started his chain of high-end restaurants.

The talk takes place at Cinnamon Kitchen at 4pm, and will see him interviewed by the journalist Mark Sansom, editor of Food & Travel magazine. As you’d expect, Vivek is laying on a spread of treats for guests. But those who find their appetites whetted have a very good reason to linger.

For the remainder of the festival, which runs until Sunday, Cinnamon Kitchen is serving a special six dish sharing menu for just £26 per person alongside a complimentary cocktail to anyone who presents a ticket to any Lit Fest event.

Oxford Mail:

Now, Cinnamon Kitchen may be renowned for its excellent food, but this does tend to come at a price, so it seemed an offer far too good to miss out on. Which is why, after an afternoon of literary inspiration, my friends and I dropped in to see if Vivek’s literary treat was really the gift it appeared to be.

I can’t stress strongly enough that this is not a curry house. You are not presented with a basket of poppadoms on arrival and there are none of the trappings of your favourite Bangladeshi jalfrezi joint. Think more along the lines of a Michelin star-standard restaurant which serves fine food with a touch of Indian spice.

We settled down with an excellent bottle of the house red and waited to be impressed. It didn’t take long.

Three waiters, including the always cheerful Leon Marks, descended on our table, covering it with a beautifully-presented array of dishes – including vegan choices for our veggie friend.

We tucked into a samosa chaat – a crisp Punjabi vegetable samosa on a bed of curried chickpeas served with a tangy tamarind chutney. The wholesome flavours of the samosa were turbocharged by the respectably spiced chickpeas and zippy sauce; a symphony of sweet and sour.

Oxford Mail:

A plainly spiced Kolkata fish cake was also given a piquant edge by an accompaniment of beetroot, raisin and kasundi mustard. What would, alone, be perhaps too mild and, dare I say, English, was transformed into a complex array of flavours. It was very, very moreish.

Best of all was a chicken leg hariyali tikka with green spices, labna and a pretty sprinkling of pomegranate. The meat was absolutely divine. Well marinated and lightly cooked in the tandoor it was tender, moist and smoky with a slight citrus edge.

Our veggie pal obviously passed on the chicken, and enjoyed a gorgeous plate of char-grilled broccoli with spiced almond flakes and rose petal. He wouldn’t let us anywhere near it, but emitted a series of deeply approving noises.

And that was only the starters.

READ MORE: Flippin' great: Cafe serves up the best crepes in Oxford

READ MORE: The village bakery offering tip-top breakfasts

Main courses consisted of a Hyderabadi style lamb biryani – beautifully served in its own pot; the flavoured rice containing succulent chunks of marinated meat. There was also a bowl of very pleasing spiced black lentils, a creamy raita, again sprinkled with pomegranate, various breads and, the high point of our feast – a sublime Chettinadu shrimp curry with rock moss and peppercorn. The ‘shrimp’ were in fact generously meaty knuckles of king prawn and the sauce was as creamy as a korma but with more subtle spice and none of that staple dish’s cloying creamy sweetness.

The veggie tucked into grilled aubergines with sesame, tandoori subz saag (root vegetables in spinach sauce) and masala uttappam – potato podimas with tangy lentil sambhar and chutney. It was all very good indeed and, alas, too much for us to eat.

Oxford Mail:

We finished off with a palate-cleansing mango cardamom kulfi ice cream and mango mint salad. Perfection.

It was wonderful, tremendous value and far too good for just one week. I will personally be begging Vivek to make it a year-round treat. If not, we’ll have to make Lit Fest a monthly do – at least.