Determined to stave off the winter blues, Bombay Balti was our restaurant of choice for a midweek treat.
Having not fully decided on where to eat, we wandered through Lancaster to find inspiration, and a cosy eatery to warm us up.
Perhaps to be expected on a freezing November Wednesday, many of the places we thought we would try were virtually empty, and we didn’t fancy being the only ones in a restaurant.
But, as we walked up to the door of the China Street restaurant and takeaway we could see it was bustling with groups of people, and we decided to join them.
Bombay Balti has a homely, almost living-room feel to it and we were immediately shown to our table in a comfy booth, ideal for people-watching.
As we sat down we were offered poppadoms and pickles, which were brought to our table before we’d even started looking at the menu.
The choice of food is huge – with the menu divided into various specials, classics and specific dishes – and a massive starter selection to begin.
We couldn’t even decide which starters to choose, let alone main courses, and so we plumped for a mixed platter for two people.
For £8.95, we were brought a generous plate of chicken tikka and lamb tikka, seekh kebabs, onion bhajis, vegetable pakoras and vegetable samosas.
The meat was marinated and cooked beautifully, with the bhajis and samosas crisp and flavoursome.
The pakoras won as our favourite, though, with a sweet, lightly spiced flavour and wonderful texture.
Turning our attention to which main courses to pick, the choice was vast and we struggled to decide.
Being creatures of habit, I usually choose a bhuna, while husband Martyn can never usually be persuaded to have anything other than madras.
However, to try to be a little more adventurous, we both went for something new.
After what seemed like hours of deliberation, I chose chicken shatkora.
It was described as a traditional Bengali dish, cooked similar to bhuna but with a twist of “semi wild citrus”, mainly grown in the Sylhet region of north eastern Bangladesh.
The first thing that struck me when the dish arrived was the portion size – a mountain of boiled rice and a full pot of curry – probably enough for two people to share.
It smelled amazing and, for £9.95, seemed great value.
The chicken was cooked well and wasn’t dry at all, with loads of sauce to go with it.
As described on the menu, the citrus flavour really came through, with just the right amount of spice to balance it.
We shared a plain naan to mop up the sauce and it was all fantastic.
Martyn ventured away from his usual choice to lamb shank.
The menu described it as a tender, oven-roasted shank cooked in medium-to-hot spice, using ginger-based tarka, cooked in a “bombay special sauce” topped with finely chopped onions and peppers, and served with egg fried rice.
Once again, the portion size was huge, and the quality was great.
The meat fell off the bone and the flavour of ginger really stood out in the sauce.
It was covered with plenty of fresh, crisp vegetables and the rice was just the right level of sticky.
The madras fan said it could have done with a little more spice, but I thought the flavour combinations and heat levels were spot on.
Defeated by the main courses, neither of us could manage a dessert, although there was a tempting ice cream list on our table.
In total, the bill came to £45.40 which, for the quality and quantity of food, seemed great value.
I’m sure we’ll be going back.