The Indian Tiffin Room – Manchester
Authentic, bold and vibrant; the Indian Tiffin Room is a pure representation of real India.
Having a Gujarati mother I’ve obviously had my fair share of Indian food. From fluffy dhokla to spicy pataka varas, thaalis to masala dosas I have proudly stuffed my face with it all. However since our move from Leicester to Bradford it’s become quite rare. Culinary Indian cuisine in Bradford has slowly moulded into your every day tikka masalas and boring baltis.
Street food is one of the main characteristics of India so I was excited to hear about The Indian Tiffin Room. Their website boasts ITR ‘specializes in authentic Indian street food that is inspired by the bustling streets of India.’
ITR has three branches; Cheadle, Manchester and Leeds, all three branches are very busy. I would therefore definitely recommend you reserve a table before hand. We visited the Manchester branch mid week in January but were told there was at least a 2hr wait for a table. After seeing how busy it was I was even more determined to tick ITR off my bucket list. So a few weeks later I reserved a table online through their website for that same evening.
It’s evidently clear why it’s so busy; the style and layout beams a contemporary but yet traditional feel. At the side there’s booths designed like rickshaws, in the centre a large open kitchen with a booming open bar next to it. Even though ITR are extremely busy their mannerisms and hospitality are first class. As soon as we sat down we were given a jug of water that the waiter poured out for us into traditional stainless steel cups.
To accompany we ordered two mocktails. There wasn’t a large selection of non alcoholic drinks to choose from. However there is an option to order a cocktail off the menu and request them to minus the alcohol. We decided to stick within the mocktails section; We got the Nimbu Lychee and the Lemon Berrigon pictured on the left hand side.
The Nimbu Lychee was a very light mix of Lychee and Lemon. I thought the flavours blended nicely together but in my opinion it needed a bit more. It was a very boring and flat drink. It could have done with a bit of soda water or more lemon – just something to give it more of a kick. It was garnished with rose petals, a nice little touch except near to the end of my drink I kept finding little pieces of the petals stuck in my straw, slightly annoying.
Our second drink was the Lemon Berrigon which was a mixture of berries and lemonade. This one was slightly more refreshing than the previous however it still carried a slight watered down feeling. It was garnished with berries which again is a nice little finishing touch.
For starters we were spoilt for choice. The starters are split into three sections; veg warm, veg cool and non veg warm. We decided to opt for Paneer Pakoda and Vada Pav both from the veg warm section and the Grazing Platter from the veg cool section.
Just as I would expect from Indian street vendors the starters were ready straight away. The Paneer Pakodas came out steaming hot with a thick mint chutney. Paneer pakodas are often made in different ways but the basics remain the same; cottage cheese covered in gram flour and then lightly shallow fried. Unfortunately the pakodas at ITR looked better than it actually tasted.
Whilst the platter reflects a very generous portion, it was only until I actually bit into a piece that I realised the lack of actual paneer. All I could taste was the gram flour (besan) with just a very thin layer of paneer inside. Paneer has a chewy soft taste that I love and I was quite disappointed to realise that this was more pakoda than actual paneer.
Secondly, the Vada Pav. It’s not something I would usually order but my mum chose this and I am so glad she did. The menu describes it as a veg burger but in fact it’s so much more. The filling is a large vegetable mix; quite spicy and very flavoursome, fried and then sandwiched between a buttery soft bap. The crunchyness from the batter and the spicyness from the filling makes it a delicious starter.
Lastly for our starters is the grazing platter. The grazing platter consists of ITRs famous puris; bhel puri, dahi puri and sev puri. The puris comes in twos and are little crispy pastrys each with their own filling. It’s a great idea if you’re indecisive like me.
Bhel puri is served with seasoned potatoes and really nice date chutney. Dahi puri is again filled with seasoned potatoes but this time with yoghurt and sev puri is filled with a tamarind chutney, pastry vermicelli and chopped onions. Each puri is uniquely mounded with flavour. I’d never been able to pick a favourite so the grazing platter was perfect.
We knew from the get-go that we definitely wanted to try out ITRs Masala Dosa but we didn’t know what other main to get. After speaking with our waitress she advised ITR is 100% halal – it isn’t displayed anywhere but the waitress offered to show us a certificate. This gave us even more to choose from on the menu; we eventually chose the Lamb Kashmiri curry.
Masala Dosa is a staple south Indian dish and can be served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The thin crepe like pastry (dosa) is made with rice and black lentils, very finely grinded into a pancake batter. Specifically Masala Dosas are stuffed with a spicy potato and lentil curry. It’s a long process but when made properly it’s so worth it.
The ITRs Dosa was served with two other lentil curry’s and a yoghurt chutney. Whilst the Dosa looks huge the actual filling inside wasn’t – just a tiny ball of curry in the middle. Slightly disappointing but it was still nice and carried a lot of traditional flavours.
The Kashmiri Lamb curry is either served with naan or rice, as we were sharing we requested both. The lamb itself was soft and tender with a thick curry; really well made! The rice was just plain boiled rice which is the norm at most restaurants but I did expect a little more flavour from ITR.
By this point we’re really full and shouldn’t have even looked at another course but for dessert we tried Kesari Bath. Kesari Bath is a semolina cooked in saffron milk, sprinkled with cashews and pistachios. A really light fluffy dessert, nice and sweet to end off a hearty meal.
Overall our experience at ITR was amazing! Its a lovely family friendly restaurant that brings out a snippet of the real India right to Manchester. The service was great; smiley and helpful. The food could’ve been slightly better, some of the food could’ve done with a lot more flavour. However I would definitely recommend and will be back soon!
Lots of love, Hafsah x