There’s never been much of a curry shortage in Manchester, we’ve even got a mile of the stuff, but quantity doesn’t make up for quality, and it hasn’t always been there to find. Faced with increasing competition from all angles, Indian food in the UK has upped it’s game over the past few years though, and there are a number of restaurants throughout the city trying to more closely represent the breadth of brilliant dishes available on the subcontinent.
One of those places is Indian Tiffin Room, which has been the worst kept secret in Cheadle for a number of years and also set up shop in a First Street unit back in 2015, last week I finally managed to pay them a visit.
Classic cocktails with a twist can go either way, but I was suitably impressed with the Imly Margarita and ITR Old fashioned we began with. My Margarita was sweetened with tamarind, and a healthy dose of dried chilli mixed in to the salted rim heated things up too, the Old Fashioned came in a smoke filled flask and was well balanced – not too sweet as can often be the case.
Beginning with some appetizers the paneer pakora was tasty, although I thought the slices of battered cheese were a bit thin, I prefer chunkier pieces of the Indian cheese. Our grazing platter of bhel puri, dahi puri and sev puri looked fantastic, a beautifully vibrant mish mash of colours that offered a similarly impressive combination of sweet and savoury crunch. You should also be sure to try the refreshingly tart yoghurt explosion of the pani puri, which are as much fun to pop in your mouth as they look.
Whoever marinated this machli kebab deserves their own TV show. The accompanying unadulterated tikka style dip pulled no punches with its pungent citrus, salt and spice but in all honesty you could have left it back in the kitchen. Tantalisingly tender chunks of fish with an expertly judged marination of delicate spice. When you get seafood this right it really is hard to compete with, what could be better? We also tried the Chicken Lollypops which were nice enough but they could’ve been a bit more moist for me. I was still thinking about the kebab though anyway, still am now.
Our Madurai Masala Dosa was light and crisp, the dips were perfect too. Just serving dosas isn’t enough anymore, everyone’s at it these days, you need to get it right and this was spot on. For me one of the most important facets is getting the coconut chutney right and this was on point, perfect consistency, creamy but with that slight gingery, mustard tang too.
Thankfully there was more of that fragrant chutney on offer for our tray of idly and vada, which we greedily munched down before our final savoury excursion.
When they follow in this order lamb, shank and curry must be three of the best words in the English dictionary. The dish is called Lamb Nalli Nihari though so keep an eye out for it, you need this little pot of magic in your life. There’s a whole lot of deliciousness swimming around in that rich, velvety sauce. I’ve got a bit of a rule with lamb in an Indian restaurant, only order it when you’ve got faith in the place to do the meat justice, I was duly rewarded for my confidence.
Indian desserts often get overlooked, there’s rarely much appetite left in me after a curry, bread and rice, but I have to say I think they’re growing on me. The Kulfi and Gulab Jamun we finished with were certainly worthy of any remaining belly space, and thankfully small in proportion too. Asian puddings sometimes seem somewhat removed from western tastes but the creamy pistachio and cardamom flavours of the Kulfi and those sweet sticky, spongy Gulab Jamun balls aren’t too dissimilar from more familiar desserts and these were good examples.
It’s taken me far too long to visit Indian Tiffin Room and the experience just left me wanting more quite frankly. If you’re in the same boat, this is a restaurant that richly deserves it’s hard won reputation, and one of a handful of places I’ve visited that go some way towards representing a fantastically diverse cuisine.