Lal Qila – Back to The Curry Mile

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This is a Restaurant on Manchester Curry Mile that Hector has been aware of since Manchester Visit #1. Was that only Three years ago, in the Common Era?

The Taxi Driver from the Manchester Velodrome to Rusholme was less informed than previous ones Hector has encountered. Normally they have one to highlight, it was an Old, Noisy Hackney, difficult to communicate.

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I wandered to the Southern Edge of The Curry Mile, what was apparent was the increasing number of Non-Curry Houses. The Afghan, Egyptian and Middle Eastern influence was definitely more in One’s Face. Maybe it was Dark and the Neon made some stand-out more. The Afghan Cuisine almost enticed Hector, the Café Menu looked Grill and no more. One perceives Athens in a Couple of Weeks may reveal the Same Saga. The Punjabi Restaurant which Hector was impressed by in his First Curry Mile Visit had a Menu which advertised the Bog Standard and South Indian Dishes. As is evident, I walked on.  I wonder what tempted me last time?

Lal Qila Manchester (23)On entering Lal Qila (123 – 127 Wilmslow Road, Rusholme, Manchester, M14 5AN), One is shocked at The White. A Cluster of Diners, perhaps in Double Figures were sat to the right of the entrance. I was marched past them to a Window Table set for Three/Four. The places were cleared, I was the Decoration. Meanwhile I counted in excess of One Hundred Seats, with a Wedding Hall to the Rear. As the Venue is Licensed, maybe it’s easier to keep tabs on folk in a Cluster. I am fed up being a Mannequin.

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The Menu arrived and Complimentary (I believe) Poppadoms and Chutney/Dips almost as quickly.

In the week where Aberdeen’s Shri Bheema’s Representative contacted Hector to justify their charges for Extra Dips, but did not address the Instant Cost for Poppadoms, this was appreciated.

The Menu

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Lal Qila Manchester (18)How can One Piece of folded A3, or was it less, contain so many Hector Compatible Dishes? There were Five that possibly could I have ordered. Lamb Methi, Karahi, but let’s stop at the Fish Karahi. Nowhere did The Menu mention the dreaded Mushy Green Vegetable. How Dry would the Karahi be? Oh, the Lal Qila Grilled Lamb Chops, maybe a Starter?

The Poppadoms remained untouched until I had ordered. The Waiter accepted the Order – Dry Fish Karahi.

Bread was a Potential Problem. Roti, £1.50, Paratha £2.70, Aloo Paratha £3.50. For once, the Garlic and Coriander Naan at £2.90 felt appropriate. What a mistake.

Lal Qila Manchester (20)A Sparkling Water was brought with the Poppadoms, if it wasn’t a Pint it was as near as. There was no information as to the price of Soft Drinks. As a Licensed Venue, the Fellow Diners were swallowing Various Biers. In for a Penny.

The Waiter’s acceptance of Dry Fish meant the Lamb Chops were ordered. Four for £6.70?  Dearer than Bradford.

A visit upstairs made Hector aware of a New Adjacent Co-Diner on the return. At a Table for Six, but still in the Window, She was soon joined by a Chap. Mixed Grill Main Course. Why make it so easy?

The Chops

Lal Qila Manchester (22)Indeed the Chops numbered Four. Presented Sizzling on an Iron Skillet, the Onions were irresistible. Part of The Fun. A Waiter made the Polite Enquiry as I ate. The Exterior of the Chops was up to standard, I felt them a bit Peely Wally inside, maybe more cooking required, a Rush Job?

Here comes The Fish

The Steel Karahi may have been less than Authentic, still, I liked what I saw. A Decent Portion of Fish shrouded in a Minimal, Sticky Looking Masala. Exactly the Appearance of The Fish Curry I have been trying to secure since November at The Indian Mango (München).

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There was a Kick. Flavours were to the fore, but no Methi, a Masala with a Hint towards Sweet and Sour but not anywhere near the Overwhelming feeling this Sauce creates. With Chopped Fresh Tomatoes and Green Chillies, a Gritty Texture was realised. Was this approaching Indian Mango? That this Karahi was fit for comparison with Hector’s Favourite Chettinad speaks volumes. As a Chef I would have been proud to have served this Dish. The Fish was Freshly Cooked and still had a bit of Resistance, far from the Pulp that I have been served in say Huddersfield. The Quantity was Perfect, but would I have said that without the Lamb Chops Starter?

At the end the Waiter asked if the Karahi was – N*** ?

No – was the reply, – It was Wonderful!

The Nan wasn’t

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Hector has no idea what this Bread was masquerading as Naan.  It was closer to Unleavened Bread.  Flat, virtually Tasteless, it did nothing for the Fish. That the Overall Experience was so satisfying must speak volumes for the Quality of The Fish Karahi.

I went up to The Counter to pay.

The Bill

£21.60. The Lamb Chops inflated the Overall Price. The Sparkling Water was a Pint. Maybe a Couple of Quid less would have been the Ideal.

The Aftermath

The Calling Card was accepted with Interest. Mein Host gave me their card and told me they have a Venue in Town too. But it does close early.

I told him how a Taxi Driver once picked me up from outside Lal Qila and assuming I had just Dined Here assured me this was the Best Curry House in Rusholme. It has taken a while to get here, but this was truly a Fish Karahi fit for a Hector.

Postscript

The following forty eight hours turned out to be Life-Changing in Hector’s Search for Wonderful Curry. The Lahori Dera may mean that Hector will not be back in the Manchester Curry Mile for the foreseeable…

However, I will certainly return here, One Day.

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