New for the weekends, local Indian mainstay Zouk has introduced a new menu of “nashta” -- but you can just call it Indian Brunch. And in the best possible way, it’s exactly what you’re expecting.
The line-up features some legit Indian staples, to be sure; it’s the only brunch in town offering Channa Puri or Lamb Nihari, for example. But by and large, the menu is built on traditional items from a western spread, colourfully inflected with Indian essence. You don’t need to recalibrate your mental image of brunch, just open your mind to a little extra spice.
I found versions of all my top breakfast-time cravings in Zouk’s approach to nashta, so with mimosas already delivered to the table, I dove right in. The Spiced Eggy Bread offers up a fresh, vegetal take on French toast with that rich custardy texture in the egg-soaked bread offset by the crunch of onion and peppers and thoroughly infused with low-grade spice.
The Paneer Bhurji takes its name from a word meaning ‘scramble’ and manages at once to evoke a traditional paneer dish and an American-style breakfast scramble -- but maybe that’s just because it’s served in a skillet. Medium-diced bites of firm cheese are tossed with onions, peppers and a warm, homey tomato sauce to create a very tasty and very moreish dish with a lingering mid-level heat.
The Bombay Baked Eggs might be called shaksouka on a middle-eastern menu, but by any name this pair of eggs poached in a deeply-spiced tomato sauce and baked with spinach and potato would be just as hearty and divine. The eggs burst with gorgeous drippy yolk, making for messy mouthfuls and more or less demanding every last drop be scraped from the plate.
Last but not least, the Sweet Peshwari Naan is Zouk’s nashta answer to breakfast pastry, a circle of traditional naan sweetened with honey and filled with a pinky-orange paste of coconut, cream, almond powder and cherries. The flavour is soft but scintillating and, with a dollop of creamy honied yoghurt, more than a little bit irresistible.
In every dish, I found something familiar made lively and exotic with spice and unexpected ingredients, and the full menu offers a wide set of variations on this theme. Whether you’re expanding your brunch obsession into Indian territory or leaping at the opportunity to have a curry in the morning, Zouk has got you covered all week.
Zouk Tea Bar & Grill, 5, The Quadrangle, Chester Street, Manchester M1 5QS
0161 233 1090