Rachel Martin explores the flavours of India
Sheffield has long been praised for its South Asian cuisine, with a proliferation of curry houses, balti restaurants and Indian eateries. However, there are a few that have risen above the crowd and carved out a superior niche. Butlers Balti House is one of them; catering for a wide range of cultural palates, including Northern Punjab and Pakistani.
Well-placed at the boundaries of Kelham Island, the West Bar district and City Centre, it has long been popular with hard-to-please corporate professionals. Nowadays, however, it is also attracting growing admiration from Sheffield’s army of self-professed curry connoisseurs.
My partner and I were greeted by restaurant owner and manager Sajid Quader who had prepared for us a special tasting menu, featuring dishes from all over India, based on our personal spice preference.
As we waited for our starter to arrive - the mixed starter for two (£4.95), consisting of seekh kebab, chicken tikka, tandoori lamb chops and tandoori chicken wings - fresh from the kitchen came a selection of golden-as –a-buttercup poppadoms (£0.70) and assorted pickles (£2.50).
The poppadoms were crisp and light – just light enough to hold the torrents of pickle, which included mango, lime, mixed pickle and mint and chilli – and after we polished off every last morsel, our starter arrived still sizzling in the pan.
The chicken tikka - the king of all tikkas in the tandoor repertoire - was moist and mouth wateringly fragrant with a lovely ghee flavour, and the tandoori chicken wings were wonderfully dainty and delicate. The accompanying seekh kebab was cooked to perfection, and the tandoori lamb chops were amply pink and tender.
A reflection of the cultural diversity of the local area, Butler’s menu is a tantalising mix of influences from across the Indian subcontinent, and I indulged in “just one more mouthful” several times before being presented with our selection of bespoke curries.
The Arabian lamb (£8.50) was a delight; a medium to mild curry which tosses cubes of lamb in a creamy sauce, with fresh mint, coriander and mushrooms. The lamb was beautifully tender and the accompanying flavours were expansive and rich, singling out the freshness of the ingredients.
The spicier chicken handi (£8.50) counterpart was just as tasty; an aromatic curry cooked in an earthen pot and laced subtly with coriander and cardamom. It was an explosion of pungent flavours; spicy, fresh and delicious.
Accompanying the mains was a peshwari (£2.95) and keema naan (£3.25), both toasted and slathered with butter, and coconut rice (£2.95) - the best way to mop up all those aromatic savours.
While all this sounds like a greedy feast; this is sharing food, proper sharing food, and blessedly light. Miles removed from those best-known belly-busting curries.
Thanks to the Butlers Balti, I have yet another excuse, as if I needed one, to indulge in ‘proper’ Indian cuisine.
Butlers Balti House, 44-46 Broad Lane, Sheffield, S1 8BT
Tel: 01142 768 141