{Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester] Lily's Indian Vegetarian Cuisine

When we last had lunch here, back in November 2017, the restaurant was planning to move to new premises, literally across the road. It’s taken a goodly a while but the move has finally taken place.

I have some fond memories of the new building in its earlier form as a social club as it’s where I held my retirement party years back. And the move has clearly been a success as, even on a Monday lunchtime, they were doing good business. And it’s a move upmarket – this is now definitely restaurant, rather than café. But still an entirely vegetarian menu which it worth the briefish schlep from North Cheshire.

The menu is divided up into categories – street food, South Indian mains, etc. But, the divisions are less clear than a western menu. So, we ordered a couple of things from the obvious starters and a couple of mains – but asked for
, like an envelope. It came with the expected sambhar and coconut chutney, everything to come together so we could “mix and match”.

There was papdi chaat – a mix of potato, tomato, chickpeas, bound together with creamy yoghurt and a sweet/sharp tamarind sauce. It’s garnished with the crisp papdi pastry rounds. The contrast between the flavourings and textures was absolutely bang-on. There was also a rava dosa – different from your usual dosa in that it’s made from semolina and is served folded round its filling, of spring onionstogether with a green chutney that was probably coriander based. And, unlike the standard dosa which is always very crisp, this was only crisp round the edges – I’ve no idea if that’s the intent.

A vegetarian kofta (think falafel) was flavoursome and had a good texture. The balls (three, I think), came in a tomato sauce that was quite poky. Vegetables Jaipuri was a lovely mix of veg – green beans, carrot, green chilli(?), cashew nuts, amongst others. All of them just cooked so still retaining a little bite. The sauce seemed both light in texture yet rich in flavour with more coming from shreds of paneer.

Oh, and they’ve expanded their on-site “deli” which meant I was walking away with a small box of mixed sweets

I’m not sure how many times we’ve now visited Lily’s but I do know we’ve never been served a duff dish.

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The only saving grace (*) of having to schlep round IKEA is having lunch beforehand across the road at Lily’s.

When you go somewhere as often as I’ve been to Lily’s, you run out of new nice things to say about. So, I’ll just say that the food and service were really good and, if there were any teething problems when they moved into their new premises last year, they’ve sorted them.

As for the food, there was samosa chaat to start. A classic amongst North Indian starters and this was good version – chopped up crisp samosa, potatoes, chickpeas, etc. And a good drizzle of yoghurt and tamarind (?) chutney, the latter giving a nice sharpness. A generous portion, as well – if you hadn’t come with much of an appetite, it would do you as a main course. The other starter was lentil kachori. Here the lentils have been cooked down to a thick paste and formed into a ball. That’s covered with a thin pastry and deep fried. There were three of them, along with a little salad and raita.

To follow, there was vegetable Kolhapuri – a nice mix of peppers, onion, cabbage and cashew nuts, in a clingy, spicy, tomato based sauce. The other main was a rava masala dosa. We’ve had that before here and, no doubt will have it again. It’s made from semolina and folded round the potato filling, rather than rolled as in the more common masala dosa. I think the need to fold it means it’s not cooked as crisp as the common one. All tastes fine, though. That comes with a nice sambhar, coconut chutney and the same raita as with the starter.

Good lunch at probably the metro area’s best vegetarian South Asian place.

(*) - actually not the only saving grace - the lingonberry and cloudberry jams are also a treat

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I absolutely love samosa chaat, and have made an entire lunch of it more than once!

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold