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[Manchester, city centre] Akbar's

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I like Akbar’s. I like that it’s big and bustling. And that it’s always busy. And that there’s always a buzz. And, of course, that there’s consistently damn good food, served in generous portions at reasonable cost. OK, so main courses may be a quid or two higher than the generic Bangla curry houses in Rusholmes “Curry Mile”. But the food quality is well worth the couple of quid.

Well worth it except for my starter. This was Chicken Nambali – possibly named after the place in Tamil Nadu (although Akbar’s offerings are usually North Indian). It sounded alright – marinated chicken, garnished with melted cheese, a garnish of peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes. I suppose I expected a sort of tikka dish, dotted with paneer, etc. But this was a few bits of white stuff that must have been the chicken, although it had no taste, and completely smothered in what may easily have been a catering version of Kraft cheese slices. It was the sort of plate that once passed for pub grub, in the days before dining pubs and gastropubs. No, it was not at all nice. But that was the only miss.

The other starter, a chickpea and potato poori, put Akbars back on track. Nice crisp pastry, good balance of the other ingredients, zingily spiced.

We both went with lamb for main courses. As always, they were brought by chefs, not servers. Roshan Lal seems to be their take on a Rogan Josh. Small pieces of lamb, perfectly tender, coated in a thick onion & tomato sauce. Lots of coriander coming through, although it is quite salty (apparently it’s supposed to be). An absolute belter of a dish. Karahi gosht was off the desi section of the menu and was just as good. Another thick clingy sauce, not as tomatoey as the other, but a bit more zingy from chilli.

Rice was good and fluffy. Tandoori roti were perfect – by which I mean nice & crispy. And my mango lassi was as good an example as you’d want to find.

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  1. That chicken-melted cheese thing sounded nasty - obviously a local invention and certainly *not* authentic Indian.Looking at the online menu of the Akbar chain (http://akbars.co.uk/manchester/akbars...), I was wondering how the Lahori items would have fared - these would be slow-cooked, usually overnight, or at least 8 hours.