At the centre of Rusholme’s renowned curry mile, you’ll find Ziya, a bright, modern Indian restaurant with an open kitchen and huge windows that gives a birds-eye view of this vibrant and never dull area of Manchester.
It’s deceptively large, with three storeys of dining space, and a perfect choice for Christmas parties and get-togethers, suitable for various group sizes – depending on the rules for socialising in December.
Ziya opened in 2014, and each subsequent year they’ve won major awards for their food, including the prestigious best Indian restaurant in Manchester at the 2018 Asian Curry Awards.
And now they’ve come up with an idea that promises to transform daytime dining in the city.
Their Indian Tapas menu is the ultimate way to enjoy a hearty, varied lunch at an impressively low price point. The menu consists of thirty carefully-crafted dishes, taking in chaat, tandoor dishes, Mumbai specials and a substantial Indo-Chinese section. And you can choose four of these for a mere £10.
Each item comes in a little bowl laid out on a tray of four, providing more than enough food to satisfy your lunchtime cravings.
This provides enough food to pick at and share with a companion over a leisurely catch-up lunch without ever becoming too heavy, and at the same time offering a fantastic variety of foods and flavours.
We try a random selection, and the only issue is deciding where to start first.
The items from the tandoor section are the most immediately exciting, fresh from the clay oven and with that irresistible smoky aroma.
The chicken tikka is beautifully cooked soft white meat covered with a yoghurt sauce made from an inspired concoction of spices, plus a hint of lemon. It’s also the most substantial dish, consisting of two thick chunks of meat that can quell even the most rumbling tummy.
The lamb tikka is equally delicious, long, thick strips of darkly spiced lamb with a dash of mint yoghurt to cool things down.
The seekh kebab is a fine example of this Indian classic, made with high-quality ingredients and a level of spice that delivers a kick without ever overpowering the tastebuds.
The dishes might be bite-size but the level of care and attention of detail that goes into them rivals all Ziya’s near-neighbours.
Things get interesting with the Mumbai specials and Indo-Chinese dishes, which include the unforgettable corn cheese tikki, a kind of mashed sweetcorn fritter, gloriously soft in the middle with a piping hot golden, crunchy coating.
The chilli paneer deserves a special mention too, mini cubes of this mouthwatering cheese with a sweet and hot tangy sauce that sends a ripple of pleasure through your body.
And let’s not forget the fish courses, such as the crispy fish Manchurian with its magical Indo-Chinese sauce, and the fish Amritsari, based on a recipe from the Punjab city, which is battered fish elevated to all-new heights.
The portion sizes are perfect – any less and you’d be left wanting more, any more and you’d need a nap afterwards.
As it is, we leave energised and planning our next visit.
We were left marvelling at such an exciting and always-fascinating range of dishes – suggesting that Indian food is perhaps the ultimate cuisine to be served small plates-style.
As far as daytime dining in Manchester goes, Ziya’s take on Indian tapas is one of the most exciting offerings we’ve come across in years.
You won’t find anywhere else where you can try such extraordinary food for a mere ten pounds.