[Manchester, city centre] Akbar's

It’s been a while since we last ate here. So, I just had to order my favourite starter – chicken liver tikka. Generous portion of melt-in-the-mouth just cooked through livers, on a bed of fried onion. There’s good spice in the tikka seasoning – I got coriander and certainly got chilli. And I got the better of the starter ordering. Veggie Vera went with the onion and potato bhajis. Thin slices of spud fried in batter and a fairly bog standard onion bhaji. All a bit greasy.

Vera continued with her standard South Asian main of aloo gobi. It’s a good bet here, as Akbar’s claims Punjabi heritage so should be able to get this regional classic right. And they do. Good chunks of potato and cauli which retain some texture. Nice clingy sauce with bags of chilli poke. From the desi section of the menu came Karella Ghosht. Lovely tender tasty lamb with the bits of still “al dente” bitter gourd (karalla) bringing a hint of, erm, bitterness. Another clingy sauce. We also had a side order of daal makhani which just wasn’t very nice at all. It was an off-putting lurid colour - akin to a tin of Heinz tomato soup. And very sweet. We left most of it. Even though we said there was no need, the server got it knocked off the bill. Carbs were good – fluffy rice and pretty much perfect tandoori roti – crisp in parts, soft in others.

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With chicken liver and bitter gourd it doesn’t sound like your run of the mill Indian restaurant. The daal makhani sounds odd though. I had it multiple times in my 10 months in India. Some examples were better than others but none were a lurid red colour. Maybe not enough black lentils in it?

Small chain, Chris, originating in Bradford. They’ve around a dozen branches, southernmost being in Birmingham. Big, blingy sort of place - always absolutely rammed.

We’d not had the daal there before and won’t be having it again.

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

― Jonathan Gold