Indian food isn’t necessarily the first thing you’d find yourself reaching for at the height of the summer.
Often stereotyped as heavy, tasting the same and perhaps only even considered a viable option once you’ve sunk a few G&Ts, there’s a certain guilt culture around the perceived indulgence of ‘going large’ and having a massive curry a la Smithy in Gavin & Stacey.
In the past few years, Indian street food concepts such as Bundobust, Indian Tiffin Room and Scene have popped up making Indian food much more summertime friendly. Cue this excellent Instagram post of the Bundobust containers sat in the sunshine in Piccadilly Gardens.
But aside from offering take-out, what are Manchester’s Indian restaurants doing to keep us visiting at the height of summer in June, July and August?
We spoke to Asha’s head chef Ashwani Rangta about his experience cooking Indian food in 5 star hotels around the world and how he translates that into cooking for hungry Mancunians.
15 years ago, Ashwani finished college, joined a popular chain of Indian hotels and found himself at the forefront of fine dining in India for some of their world-recognised brands. He stayed there for almost ten years with postings in Deli, Bombay and Bangalore, gaining a huge amount of skill and expertise before bringing his culinary talents to Manchester.
For Asha’s new summer menu, Ashwani has focused on fresh and summery flavours combining Indian spices with British ingredients.
He’s combined locally sourced sunchokes (aka Jerusalem artichoke) with coconut milk, chosen pink peppercorns over the traditionally-favoured black to use with his monkfish tikka, and has been busy sourcing fresh locally grown produce as part of a mission to lower the carbon footprint of Asha’s dishes.
He has also created a kulcha using Lancashire cheese from a farm just outside Manchester which he’d tasted at local market pop-ups and decided to make it a feature of his menu. Not traditional perhaps but certainly delicious.
In his combination of ingredients, Ashwani has created a sensational Indian summer menu featuring light and subtle flavours that allow you to taste the quality of the ingredients.
From the delicate spicing of the fresh scallops (a favourite of Ed Sheeran on his visit, apparently), to the delicate seasoning of the monkfish tikka dish, there are beautiful flavours and a bright and summery freshness to these dishes.
Beautifully sourced, cooked and plated. This is what summer time eating is all about.
But don’t just take our word for it. Try the new menu for yourself at their Best of British evenings on Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st, when Ashwani’s new dishes will be paired with a flight of specially selected British wines.