[Altrincham, Greater Manchester] Dilli
It’s been a while since we were last at Dilli – certainly not since its inclusion in this year’s edition of the Good Food Guide. I hope we caught them on a bad night as there were a number of gaps in service. Like it being an age before they took our order. Like only one of the three advertised beers being available. Like bottles of sparkling water not being available. Like a starter being “off” the menu. Like the credit card machine not working – necessitating a schlep down the road to find an ATM. No, I really hope this was just a bad night and not a sign that it has gone dramatically downhill (the fact that the place was busy perhaps confirms this was a glitch)
That said, the food was generally OK. The “new” menu is now a couple of years old and there’s clearly been no issue with customers about ditching the bog standard “any protein with any sauce” curry house menu. There’s lots of stuff that, when you read it, you want to eat it.
Like a “samosa ki chaat”. A well spiced vegetable samosa topped with chickpeas, yoghurt, zingy tamarind and mint. Really good. Or the interestingly named “Chicken 65”. Yep, I had to look that one up when I got home and, yep, it’s a genuine dish coming from the state of Andhra, as do a number of the menu items. The chicken is mainly cooked by deep frying but is then finished in the pan with a thick coating of yoghurt, ginger, chilli and garlic.
We both went with lamb for mains and this proved to be a game of two halves. Bhuna gosht, another Hyderabadi speciality, had an excellent flavour. Real chilli heat, certainly, but tempered with mint and methi leaves. But the meat was not well cooked with some pieces being perfect, while others remained unpleasantly chewy. The other plate was pretty much perfect – gosht banjra was a generous portion that would have fed two not very hungry people. Or just me. I liked the way the spices had been coarsely ground giving a little texture to the sauce, which just clung to the meat.
We also saw off a small portion of dhal makhani which was a good thickish consistency and excellent flavour. It was the sort of dhal that, as an omnivore, you wouldn’t mind too much if someone said that was all you were getting to eat. Of course, you’d also want some carb. And Dilli does very good rice and a none too shabby crispy roti.
Up to now, I would have regarded Dilli as the best Indian in the metro area. Much as we enjoyed our evening, I’m not at all sure it still wears that crown.
I'd still regard Dilli as having the best menu (in terms of being at the other end of the scale from the bog standard high street curry house). And, hopefully, I really had got them on a bad night. I'm going to be really disappointed if it has gone down the pan.
If I have to think of a "new best", then I'm torn between Eastzeast on Princess Street or Sanmini in Ramsbottom. The former edges it for me over Akbars for city centre cooking, whilst Sanmini hits the mark for southern Indian.