[Heald Green, Greater Manchester] Sangam

We’d eaten here once before. But that was, literally, years ago and we had no recollection of the place. It’s somewhere we drive past regularly but it’s never been somewhere on our radar to go back to. It was just handy this time.

It was something of a game of two halves – in that the food was much better than the service, which seemed disorganised. As soon as we sat down, we were asked if we wanted poppadums. Yes we did. And they came quickly and were good, seemingly quite fresh, with the usual mango chutney, mint raita and onions. And then nothing happened. Twenty minutes went by before we had to buttonhole one of staff and say we were ready to order food.

They hadn’t cleared the poppadum plates before the starters arrived, so something of a juggling act took place. And then, one of them was wrong, so there was a delay for the right one. So I watched her eat, then she watched me eat.

OK, as to the food, it was the online menu that had appealed. Although it retains a small section of the “any protein with any sauce” dishes beloved by run of the mill curry houses, most of the menu is given over to individually named and described dishes. My “correct” starter was a seekh kebab. Nothing thrilling there, except that’s what I think of as a tester dish. I know how it should taste, so it’s something on which I feel I can judge a restaurant. And, yes, it’s a good one. Moist, tasty, well spiced meat given the minimum amount of time in the tandoor. Across the table, there had been a king prawn puri. Prawns cooked in a quite spicy sauce and then wrapped in a deep fried puri. The bread was, presumably, crisp when it came out of the fryer but was soggy from the prawns and sauce. Still tasted good.

Main courses were excellent. Vegetarian ones are offered as either main course size or as a side order and the saag channa was bang-on for flavour. Mainly spinach, but with the chickpeas running through it. It packed a chilli punch but that was tempered by a hint of the metallic from the spinach. You could almost feel it doing you good. The other plate came for the desi section of the menu, cooked in a Punjabi home style. Not being Punjabi I have no idea how traditional their rendering is, but karahi chicken with daal was unusual. Yes, I’ve eaten desi spiced karahi chicken before. And I’ve eaten daal. But here, the daal forms the sauce. It’s a really well rounded plate of food which I liked – a lot. Carbs, rice and naan, were good.

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

― Jonathan Gold