Asha, a Birmingham Curry House

A visit to the land of Balti

There was a four hour stopover at Birmingham for those of us returning to Glasgow. The Bad Boys Club decided to convene a meeting of Bier today at the Wellington on Bennett’s Hill. Hector accompanied them to the centre of town and decided once again to trust Google maps.  With more time I would have gone to the more outlying districts which other sources recommend.  This was pot luck.  Asha’s – Contemporary Indian Cuisine (Edmund House, 12-22 Newhall Street, Birmingham, B3 3LX)  was the closest to my present locus.

It is possibly ten years or more since Hector last had a stopover in Birmingham.  Then I selected the first Balti House outside of New St Station.  Hector has done Balti.

The venue was most impressive.  The size and set up suggested that clearly this was a city centre establishment of some note.  A charming lady greeted me and took me to table.  She offered me the laminated lunchtime menu.  Now why was this?  I established later that the a la carte was available, so why presume?  I would probably have chosen differently.  There were set menus on offer and I missed these.

The Kebab Platter was ordered as the starter and the Panjim Fish Curry to follow.

Poppadoms and a yogurt style sauce were brought almost immediately.  This gave me the chance to see more reviews of where I was.  Many people like this place.  The lunch menu at £12.95 was looking as though it could be good value.

The music being played was great, not the usual Bollywood high pitched vocals but a mellow almost Indian Jazz meets Progressive Rock.  I wish I knew what it was.

The Platter arrived: The Chicken Malai Kebab was a single piece of almost Tikka Chicken, very white but effective.  The Lamb Seekh Kebab was small but spicy, I was enjoying myself.  The single King Prawn Tikka had to be kept until last: this was succulent, excellent.

The main course came.  Hector was immediately disappointed: why make a sauce so thin?  This was what is classed as Nihari style in Glasgow.  It is effectively a stew sauce but not necessarily of the poor ‘Bisto’ type.

The Pilau Rice had a slight edge to it, perhaps added Cumin?  The portion was excessive for one person.  The Chapatti was more like crispbread: why this was served so brittle Hector does not know, unless they think Rothi is something decidedly different?

As I ate the Fish there was a modicum of taste.  The experience was pleasant but by this time I was wondering what else I could have ordered.

 In the intervening hours since completing the meal two things have happened.  The sauce did have Curry leaves in it.  The taste of these has lingered for hours.  If it is possible for the taste of a Curry to improve on the palate in the aftermath then this is what happened.  I became much more appreciative of the meal as time passed.

Secondly, having had the chance to look at the Asha website, it is evident that I would not have chosen any other dish.  The menu is decidedly straightforward.

The Bill

£12.95.  My Sparkling Water was included in the £12.95 charge.  The number of places that rip customers off on soft drinks is outrageous throughout the land.  This was another positive note.  The meal was certainly value for money and in the end enjoyable.


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