Manchester is a city rich with restaurants. It’s London’s smaller and arguably cuter cousin.
Not a week goes by without a new restaurant opening, dishing up the latest food fad which has us hooked for all of five minutes before our heads our turned by yet another new concept all in the name of delicious dining.
However, there is one thing which remains constant for me, as I’m sure it does with many other people. My undying love for curry.
There are not many things which see me foregoing the familiar streets of the Northern Quarter to reach pastures new. Word of a good Indian restaurant is more than reason enough for me.
This is why you may have seen me last week power-walking from the vibrant streets of the city centre to Cheetham Hill, all in the name of a good feed.
Located in the wonderful old Cheetham town hall a mile from town, Bukhara is a shining beacon of beauty in this inner city area and has been famed for its authentic Indian cuisine since launching back in 2004.
The restaurant is airy and light with elegant furnishings and a team of friendly and helpful staff. It’s traditional with a no alcohol policy. There’s a variety of sweet and fruity mocktails and soft drinks instead.
The real treats are in the a la carte menu. It’s a cornucopia of delicious offerings from traditional curries, to steaks, seafood and vegetarian plates.
We put ourselves in the hands of our waiter, assuring him we weren’t fussy and game for a veritable feast. He promised us a bountiful spread which we eagerly anticipated whilst crunching our way through a plateful of crisp poppadoms and chutneys.
First, we dined on jahangiri prawns, plump and juicy kings flamed on a tandoor and zingy with tastes of fresh lime juice and green chillies.
Shikam puri kebab, chicken breast stuffed with spicy minced lamb and cooked over a charcoal grill. A sizeable portion which was positively stuffed with delicious meaty flavour.
A rogue but welcome dish was a Thai mango salad, a gloriously pretty plateful of julienne cut mangoes, capsicum, carrots and onions tossed in a fresh, tangy yet sweet dressing. A delightful palate cleanser which cooled the spices from the starters which were dancing on our tongues.
Suitably impressed with our starters, we watched the chef knock up round two from the open kitchen viewable from the main dining area.
We shared a chilean biryani, a favourite amongst many Bukhara diners, and something I had spied on other tables.
A restaurant speciality, the Biryani arrives complete with a perfectly puffed pillow of pastry concealing the main event inside. Slowly pulling apart the pastry revealed chunks of spicy lamb cooked with rice and flavoured with saffron and rose water.
The dish was beautifully fragrant and the flavours were mild but pleasing. A perfect order for those not feeling overly adventurous but keen to sample the soft and delicate side of south Asian cuisine.
For those looking to spoil themselves, I highly recommend the nehari, an indulgent dish with soft chunks of tender lamb shank basking in a bath of punchy flavours of ginger, green chilli and garam masala, which I would have loved more of.
Paired with a mushroom pilau, its a gloriously decadent dish, smooth in texture and packed with rich and warm flavours. An order of one of the soft and sweet peshwari naans is also a must, for both dunking purposes and for the divine juxtaposition against the savoury bites.
Bukhara offers more than just your average curry. The team of friendly and knowledgeable servers will help to provide you with an enjoyable experience whilst the chefs dish up impressive flavours using quality ingredients brought together to create beautiful dishes both familiar and new.
Whilst booking is recommended at the weekend, the extremely reasonable prices mean you shouldn’t be discouraged from popping in for a mid-week meal. An excellent place for couples and an ideal location for groups, rally up your favourites, order lots and really go to town. Well, Cheetham Hill actually.
A solid naan out of ten. (Sorry.)
107 Cheetham Hill Rd, Manchester M8 8PY.