Living in Manchester, you’re never short of options when it comes to fantastic Indian food. However, whenever I fancy a curry, I find myself opting for the same restaurants or takeaways, time and time again. So, when I was recently invited down to Bukhara to sample some of their dishes, I jumped at the chance to break out of my rut and check out somewhere new.
Housed in the recently refurbished Old Town Hall on Cheetham Hill Road, Bukhara definitely doesn’t look like your run of the mill curry house. It came as no surprise to hear that the venue regularly plays host to parties and weddings.
We’d been invited down to celebrate International Hot and Spicy Food Day (which is a thing, apparently), so needless to say I arrived ready to get a good sweat on.
After working our way through some poppadoms and chutneys (because what curry is complete without these staples?), it was on to the starters.
First up was the behari kebab – thin strips of tender lamb, which had been marinated in onion, garlic, caraway seeds and lime juice, before being grilled over charcoal. And as you’ll know, I’m a big fan of anything that’s been grilled over charcoal.
Alongside this we had the samosa chaat, which I ordered as it wasn’t something I’d had before. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised. What we were presented with, on first glance, just looked like a big bowl of chickpeas – but this was so much more than that.
At the bottom of the dish were two delicious veggie samosas, which were topped with a mix of chickpeas, red onions and tomatoes, followed by yoghurt, tamarind sauce and a generous sprinkle of additional herbs and spices. The whole thing looked fairly unusual, but was absolutely delicious. I had to resist filling myself up on this, as the main event was on its way.
For our first main we had the channa chicken. Unlike some chicken dishes, this uses leg meat, rather than breast – which gave it a much richer flavour. Despite the evening being part of International Hot and Spicy Food Day, the spice level on this was just right. Beautifully flavoured, without being overpowering.
But it was our second main, the nehari, that really stole the show for me. A traditional North Indian dish, the nehari was almost like a stew. Lamb, cooked low and slow with bone marrow and all manner of different spices, until it’s melt in your mouth tender. The heat was turned up a notch with this dish, but you don’t sacrifice any of the flavour. Even as my face flushed and I started to sweat, I couldn’t stop myself going back for more, using the soft tandoori naan to mop up the delicious, spicy sauce.
I’d highly recommend Bukhara to any curry fans who are looking to branch out. It’s only a short walk from the centre of town, but isn’t somewhere you’d necessarily know about unless you live nearby. The building is impressive, the staff are endlessly helpful and the food is outstanding. And if you fancy splashing out, you can order an entire lamb for £250 – for those moments when a couple of chops just isn’t enough!
Just make sure you’re hungry and ready to sweat.
(Disclaimer: Our meal at Bukhara was complimentary, but my opinions are all 100% legit.)