Quality Indian cuisine
What do you drink with a curry? For years my reflex action was to order a pint or three of chilled lager without giving it so much as a second thought... and if, by the end of the evening, you felt ready to explode with the combination of rich food and gassy beer, that was just the way of the world.
But there is another way. In recent years I’ve come to appreciate the alcohol-free pleasures of lassi, the delicious yogurt drink that is becoming increasingly popular in India restaurants.
There is no definitive recipe. As well as yoghurt I’ve seen lassi made with buttermilk and still or fizzy water. Savoury versions normally include cumin, salt and lemon juice while sweet calls for mango.
The important thing is it should be nicely chilled and thin enough to enjoy as a thirst (and fire) quenching drink. And if the restaurant can be bothered to serve up a really good one, the odds are that attention to detail will be reflected in the rest of the meal.
This was certainly the case at Akhtars in Killamarsh, where our appetite for one of those great weekend traditions, the Friday night curry, was heightened by a delicious, large jug of salty lassi (£8.95) to accompany the crunchy, fresh popadoms (70p each) and pickle tray (£3).
For starters the lamb chops (£4.95) were tender, juicy and packed with savoury flavour, while the chingri sizzler (£4.95) was a winning combination of tiger prawns stir-fried with baby potatoes, onions and green peppers.
With a separate bar area and one large spacious dining room, from which a team of chefs can be seen behind glass at the far end working flat-out in a busy kitchen, Akhtars is a comfortable, relaxed restaurant staffed by some of the friendliest waiters around.
Main courses continued the high standards, with the chicken methi (£8.50) having a lovely smoky, slightly bitter yet mellow heat from the fenugreek. The king prawn balti (£11.95) had a very generous portion of prawns and a distinctive golden sauce that was sticky and almost sweet-and-sour in taste.
Side dishes were outstanding. The naan bread (£2) was char-grilled, fluffy and perfect for tearing and scooping up those sauces. Coconut rice (£2.95) and tarka dal (£3.95) were also right on the money.
Clean plates ensured we would not be sampling the desserts. Perhaps that was also partly due to the fact that I also succumbed to the traditional pleasures of a large bottle of chilled Cobra lager (£4.60). Call it a weakness, but those old habits die hard.
Akhtars, 193 Sheffield Road, Killamarsh, Sheffield S21 1DX
Tel: 0114 247 7666