[Rusholme, Manchester] Ziya

We don’t often eat in Rusholme these days. Good Indian restaurants have moved out to the suburbs and the “curry mile” no longer has the same feel as it did some years back. In fact, it’s seemed that every time an old style curry house closed, a shisha bar or Middle Eastern restaurant has opened in its place. More “kebab kilometre” than “curry mile”. So, we wouldn’t have given Ziya a second thought had it not been for the owner of another Indian restaurant, in West Didsbury, mentioning it to us positively. He also said that, like himself, the owner was of Indian heritage – actually quite unusual for most “Indian” places.

We went for lunch and there was a reason for that. Street food!. They only serve their street food menu at lunchtime which is what we wanted to try so we could compare it with our favourite place in Bramhall. Had we gone in the evening, we’d still have found an interesting menu that, I reckon, defines a “modern Indian” place in the UK. These are proper, individually described dishes and there’s none of the “any protein with any sauce” Anglicised dishes that we all know from the curry houses.

We each ordered two dishes, not being fussed in what order they came – there’s no breakdown on the menu between starter and main course which, I suppose, reflects a more traditional Indian way of eating. There was a masala dosa – crisp, thin pancake. The potato filling is usually quite delicately spiced. But here, the heat comes from big chunks of dried chilli. It’s overly assertive. There’s a nice sambhar and a coconut and lime (?) chutney, both of which work well. The sambhar and chutney also accompany uttappa. It’s a thinnish pancake, topped with a little onion and tomato. It’s fine.

Misal pav is a favourite of mine and I really wanted to compare with the version I’ve eaten in Bramhall. And, frankly, this just wasn’t as good. Flavours were muted and there was hardly any topping of Bombay mix to give a bit of crunch. A couple of bread rolls were the traditional accompaniment. It was OK, of course, but I like to hope food will be better than OK. The other dish also came second best to the Bramhall version. Cholley bhature is a chickpea curry from the Punjab. Again, it was OK but let down by the overly greasy bhature bread.

I’d also have to comment adversely on the service. Dishes were slow coming out of the kitchen, even though only three tables were occupied. Goodness knows what it might be like if they were ever busy. However, it’s unlikely that we’ll be back to find out.