Last Friday, I decided to venture a tiny bit out of the city center to try out an Indian restaurant I’d heard quite a bit of hype about: Bukhara in Manchester. I usually trawl the city center for quality Indian eateries, or venture around Rusholme’s or Levenshulmes curry miles, due to their excellent reputation.
However, parking is usually fairly frantic around those busy areas, so when I spied that Bukhara sits on the outskirts of the city on Cheetham Hill Road and even comes with its own car park (and free surrounding side roads), it made all that bit of a difference to my planning.
Myself and my boyfriend headed to Bukhara after hearing that they celebrated International Hot & Spicy Food Day (January 16) with a selection of hot dishes guaranteed to make taste buds tingle. We both love spicy Indian food! Unfortunately, we couldn’t actually attend on International Hot & Spicy Food Day itself, where the traditional Indian eatery invited guests to try the hottest items on the menu to mark the novel calendar day.
However, we still got to order from the menu although we were a good few days later. Which I’ll come to in a moment!
But firstly – what a stunning place. I’ve never been so wowed before with the interior and building of an Indian restaurant before, but Bukhara is situated in the recently refurbished Old Town Hall on Cheetham Hill Road and is simply beautiful. Pillars, stone walls, a grand entrance…
Bukhara’s Manager Faruk Patel said: “In light of International Hot & Spicy Food Day we will be upping the temperature on our popular main course options for those diners who want to experience traditional dishes that explode with flavours. We want to encourage diners to try food that may be out of their comfort zone by tucking into dishes that are packed with a variety of flavours and spices.”
Faruk added: “Whist Indian food is often associated with hot and spicy foods, a lot of the ingredients that we use add flavour as opposed to heat so there are milder options for those that prefer something with less spice. Our customer favourites include the Roast Leg of Lamb and Chilman Biryani which are cooked using an abundance of herbs to add rich flavour.”
So, the menu! After munching on our poppadoms complete with a full pickle tray, I decided to go for two vegetarian options from the menu as I always prefer vegetable based Indian meals. Not too sure why, as I’m a chicken, beef, lamb eater at the best of times, but I always opt for vegetable dishes when I can. This led me to chose the following:
Starter: Samosa Chaat (vegetarian) – photo above
Deep fried samosa with chickpeas, diced red onions, tomatoes, yoghurt and tamarind sauce.
Main: Lahori Channa (vegetarian)
Chick peas cooked with black pepper, red chillies, herbs, ginger and garlic.
My boyfriend went for the Murgh Malai Tikka starter, which was chicken breast marinated in yoghurt, creamy cheese, herbs and spices cooked in a tandoor (photo above) and the Lahori Chicken main course, which was Chicken tempered with fresh tomatoes, onions, ginger and green chillies. So as you can tell, I went chickpea heavy, and he went chicken heavy! But the beauty is we always swap and share, so we can mix it up a little…
My Samosa Chaat was so so yummy, and what a huge portion! Underneath lay soft, deep fried samosas packed with chickpeas, piled up with yet more chickpeas, onions, tomatoes and veggies and coated with the creamiest, smoothest sauce toppings. It was so thick and rich with a real kick of spice.
I could have polished this off as a main dish alone – it was exactly my type of starter and I can’t explain how tasty and spicy it was! How chickpeas can be made that yummy I don’t quite know, but they really were…
The waiter also brought over an absolutely incredible Thai Mango Salad for us to try, which is a popular dish Bukhara offer. It consists of Julienne cut mangoes, capsicum, carrots and onions with a tangy and sweet dressing. I’m never one to opt for a salad at an Indian restaurant – or a Thai or Chinese for that matter – but this was amazing!
So tangy and juicy, we both agreed we’d even have that as a dessert. I was surprised at how fast I was gobbling it away for someone who steers away from salads. Absolutely delicious and a refreshing change.
My main course was again an absolute delight, a concoction of Chick peas cooked with black pepper, red chillies, herbs, ginger and garlic, all in a thick creamy brown curry that was packed with spice. It was cooked to a medium spice, but it really did have that edge to it.
The ginger was fairly strong which blended well with the chickpeas, making it a real warming, hearty type of curry, packed with goodness too!
My boyfriend had an even spicier one which I thought may be a little too hot for me, but it was actually bearable for me. Again, it was a thick, rich chicken curry dish packed with flavour and hints of garlic and chilli’s. So warming and delicious.
Alongside this we of course had a generous helping of pilau rice and the softest warm garlic naan that complimented the meal well. We finished off with a cooling pot of ice cream too, which was much needed after the spice factor from the curries.
If you’re not familiar with Indian desserts, let me just put it out there that they are insanely delicious. They are always so sweet and creamy, enriched with cream and milk and with touches of pistachio. We went for a flavoured ice cream pot which tasted of nuts and saffron, a little bit herby and utterly tasty.
If you love milk based, super sweet and cooling desserts, you’ll love these. I’ve tried the milk soaked sponge balls before too with sprinklings of pistachios and they are just incredible. I’ll take my hats of to Indian cuisine for their unique and fascinating desserts, they hands down beat the British in my opinion!
Last but not least, a few points to finish up this review. The main one: what brilliant service we received. Our main waiter was attentive, polite and chatty, informing us on food options and helping us make decisions, without being ‘too much’. He was a real delight to have with us whilst we dined. Also, the prices when we trawled the menu are really reasonable for a fine dining Indian eatery set in a gorgeous interior building. Starts sit at around £2.95 – £6.00, and main courses around £8.95 – £12.00, covering all the meats you can think of.
I was very impressed with everything about Bukhara, so sending a huge thank you to the team who looked after us that night!