I love autumn, Pinterest and Instagram autumn anyway. In reality here in Manchester, these months seem to be freezing cold, soaking wet and dark as hell. But, there is one redeeming factor to look forward to, and that is the soul-warming dishes that pop up at this time of year. The ones that are hearty, delicious and warm you up from the inside out.
The seasonal specials at Zouk are a testament to this. In other words, they’re fantastic, and they make the perfect treat to cheer you up on a miserable day. I am almost 99.9% sure that India and Pakistan have never had to experience such delights as slushy leaves and sleet, so the warmth they provide is only accidental. Be that as it may, if there were anything more perfect to warm your cockles it would be the aromatic flavours of Zouk.
Starters include Methi Mali Tikka (£5.95) and Kashmiri Lamb Kebabs (£6.95). The former was made up from perfectly tender pieces of chicken thigh cooked in cream, fenugreek and crushed cashew nuts. The meat was aromatic and flavoured with strong notes of cardamom and served with a sweet yet smoky dipping sauce. The latter were balls of minced lamb with red Kashmiri chilli and fried. You really can’t go wrong with a dish like this.
Main courses see Chicken Chettinad (£10.95) and a Bengali fish curry (£11.95). The Chicken Chettinad comes from the Tamil Nadu region of Southern India and is flavoured with local spices and hot red chillies. Sure, it has spice, but it has so much more to it than that. There are layers and layers of rich flavour to this dish, and the chilli provides a welcoming warmth. It’s exactly how a proper good curry should taste.
The Bengali fish curry is like nothing I’ve ever tasted before. Cod cooked in a traditional Bengali curry sauce with lots of tomatoes, potatoes and fresh green chilli. The fish was flaky, and the sauce was light which a fantastic surprise was because curry can often be too heavy and sickly.
Finally, a side order of butternut squash roasted with garlic, cumin and coriander (£5.95) finished things off and had me ready to go out and face the world again.
Zouk Tea Bar & Grill, 5, The Quadrangle, Chester Street, M1 5QS
0161 233 1090