It’s only been open a year, but Bhaji Pala, not far from Stockport in the suburb of Gatley, has been steadily developing a reputation for some of the best Indian food around.
And now, it’s been awarded the title of Best Vegetarian Restaurant in the whole of the north at the Asian Restaurant Awards.
We can’t say we’re surprised by the latest accolade.
The all-vegan Indian restaurant, just a couple of minutes walk from the train station, is arguably at the forefront of the south Manchester food revolution.
Bhaji-Pala is a Marathi word, which translates roughly into green veggies and herbs that are the heart of western Indian vegetarian cooking.
The award-winning kitchen team manage to maintain authenticity while adapting the southern Indian dishes for vegan palates.
And there’s no shortage of eager vegans around Manchester.
Recent estimates show that more than 600,000 people in the UK are now vegan, and plenty of people are choosing to eat more plant-based dishes as part of a vegetarian or flexitarian diet.
So what sort of dishes have earned Bhaji Pala the title of Best Vegetarian Restaurant?
The starters section is packed with mouthwateringly good small plates, from classics such as crunchy vegetable spring rolls and bhakawadi samosas (spinach, potato and an expert blend of spices, in a crispy pastry), to the must-try sweet potato chaat – a huge pile of sweet, spicy and savoury flavours, smothered in a soya yoghurt based sauce.
Tandoori dishes include basil tofu tikka with Indian spices, while hot street food style bites feature spiced potato patties served on a bed of green masala peas, and walnut and corn cakes with tamarind chutney.
Crispy rice and lentil dosa pancakes are filled with tofu, masala or vegan cheese and spinach, while an Indo-Chinese dish is adaptation of gobi manchurian, made with broccoli and topped with spring onions.
And main courses really go all-out with full-on flavour and creativity.
A dry beetroot curry is tempered with green chillies, curry leaves and whole spices, egg plant is stuffed with peanuts and spices, and black eye beans are cooked in a smooth creamy gravy.
There’s also stuffed potatoes cooked in rich Goan sauce, traditional toor dal cooked with a special cumin and garlic tadka, and a western Indian speciality – snake gourd cooked with chana daal and spices.
The charming staff take great pride in what they do, offering up an encyclopedic knowledge of every dish.
And if you’d rather get a takeaway, it’s worth noting that you can currently get 20% off orders for collection.
There’s no better time to try the best vegan food in the north.