Could this be Bradford’s best curry?

Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, birthdays…these are the days where you go along with where the person in question wants to spend their special day. So it didn’t come as a great surprise when Dad requested that this weekend we go for a curry at the Nawaab in Bradford.

A curry enthusiast, my Dad was in his element when our family moved from Leeds to East Lancashire in the late 80s. As a business manager in a bank he spent a large part of his working day helping local people secure finance to start businesses, and support existing ones. By 1989 Nelson was home to an increasing number of Asian restaurants and my Dad was involved in helping to get several of them off the ground.  I vividly remember visiting some of his customer’s houses as guests and being dressed in saris by their daughters, sharing home-made curries and trying my first glass of mango juice.

Dad relocated several times over the years but eventually retired to Bradford eight years ago, and I was excited at what I thought would be an opportunity to try out some of the famed Bradford curry houses, where you bring your own bottle and eat delicious authentic curries that are akin to those on the sub continent. I spent time in India when Sarah and I went on our epic adventure in 2005, and I was expecting to try some new dishes and expand my palate and horizons when it came to Asian food. The reality however, is that we’ve been to the same one restaurant about 100 times. And it’s not even really in Bradford, it’s on the A650 leading out to Wakefield and is pretty much in Leeds. I’ve not even been into Bradford apart from to get a train in the whole time my Dad has lived there.

This might sound like a crying shame, a waste of the wealth of fantastic restaurants available in the city centre.  The thing is, despite the volume, our local takeaways and restaurants can be pretty hit and miss. The Nawaab has been consistently delicious every single time we’ve been there, so we’re loathe to go somewhere new. It probably won’t come as a shock that I’ve also got into that irritating habit of ordering exactly the same thing every time I go, to the point that I now can’t order anything else because it could only be a disappointment.

This is a typical visit. 2-3 beers in the Six Acres pub across the road. Head to the Nawaab. A sizzling sharing platter for three – bhaji, lamb chop, seek kebab, chicken chat, and a side of meat samosas. Several poppadoms and lashings of mint yogurt dip. Bottle of Cobra. After six years Dad and Chris finally reached an understanding, whereby Chris will be allowed to order exactly what he wants even if Dad thinks he couldn’t possibly need or eat all that rice and bread, because he’s in his 40s and can decide himself how much food he wants. But Chris will then allow Dad to call him greedy at every opportunity. Dad gets to poke fun and Chris gets to be a glutton – everyone wins. The main course is what keeps us going back though, time and time again, and that’s the delicious lamb haandi. A traditional Punjabi dish, apparently it is eaten a lot in Asian homes, cooked in a clay pot that keeps all the delicious flavour in. It’s not too spicy, it’s not creamy, its just melt in your mouth lamb in a flavour packed sauce that is just the right consistency. We always have it with the pilau rice which always gives the impression of having been lightly buttered…whatever it is that they do to it, it works. Chris pontificates for longer than necessary on which combination of lamb, chicken, balti or rogan josh to have before ordering the same thing, with rice and two chapattis. And we all leave very happy indeed.

Yesterday we decided to have a change (eek!) and try out the Sunday buffet. My grandparents were visiting from the Cotswolds and we thought there would be more variety to suit their more delicate tastes and needs. For around £12 a head you get eight or nine different starter options, a full salad bar, two different rices (including a delicious keema biryiani…yes, there’s a lamb theme going on), breads and then nine different curries. I went for the chilli chicken and garlic and chicken balti curries, a heaped plates of starters (which I could eat all day every day) and a couple of refreshing scoops of ice cream to finish off. Oh, and a Cobra. You can even bring your own Cobras if you’re so inclined, and they won’t charge you to open them. It was delicious and the staff are so accommodating, but a little part of me did miss our usual order…

I don’t have any photos of the food to share, my grandparents aren’t comfortable with mobile phones so if I then started taking photos of their dinner to put on Twitter they’d think I’d lost my mind. And to be honest the Nawaab itself isn’t all that pretty, it’s basically on a roundabout, but they have just had a lovely decking and patio area set up outside for people coming for a drink before their meal. But lack of imagery aside, if you find yourself within a ten mile radius of Tong, or Huddersfield, or even their restaurant in Spain, I can’t recommend a visit highly enough. Maybe one day we will venture into Bradford so I can at least offer some kind of comparison, but for now, I’m pretty happy with my haandi.

Note: This is Dad’s 60th pictured below, we don’t usually spend Father’s Day with his golf mates!

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