We really wanted to like Bharat. Partly because plenty of people have plenty of good stuff to say about it, and partly because we’re tight, and door to door it’s the cheapest curry house to rock up to in a taxi.
Whilst the Chicken Karahi could possibly be described as ‘fresh’ and ‘uncomplicated’, it could also be (and was,) described as ‘bland’. I imagine if mum decided to knock up a curry at home it’d taste something like this. Not bad, necessarily, but you’d be a bit irked if she asked you to part with brass for it.
(In fact if you ever are at mum’s, just ask her for bread and cheese. Or tea.)
There was no discernible zing of coriander, no finger-staining sign of turmeric and (drum roll for proper foodie words here) very little depth of flavour.
The Girl With the Asbestos Tongue did, however, enjoy the Jalfrezi, which was the hottest curry I, or probably anyone, had ever tasted. So mouth-numbing was it that if I’d have been in the market for root canal surgery this would have been a good time to get me strapped in.
To be fair, we were warned it was a ‘hot dish’, and whilst it had me necking vats of water (wrong choice, I know,) she loved the charred chicken and volcanic spicing.
Perhaps I’d already made up my mind subconsciously when the chappatis, ordered separately, landed on the table. These had all the look and feel of a piece of 1980s school bog roll, but none of the flavour, and lightened the wallet by 95p per sheet.
For a bit of balance, a handful of people we’ve spoken to make a beeline for this place and hold both the food and service in high esteem. On our visit – teatime, early in the week – there was a constant stream of customers. To many, it’s a favourite. This would suggest that, as we’ve all suspected, we don’t have a clue what we’re talking about.
Prices for mains usually range between £6.50 and £8 and there’s a bar for booze.
A bhaji’s throw down the road is the “World-Famous” Mumtaz. It’s big, there’s a lot of glass and a sign spins, Scotland Yard style, outside. Chic.
Lunchtimes get busy so in a bid to miss the masses we landed mid afternoon. It was quiet but, luckily, we managed to get seated between 2 families each with a couple of screaming kids, which was nice.
Truth be told we’ve dismissed visiting Mumtaz previously fearing that the glitz and glam (well, animal print and marble) could be a showy front for average food.
But where that previous Karahi Chicken had been a bit of a frump, this was deep, rich-but-not-too-rich with a subtle smack of spice. A dish that, despite being full after getting to work on the pickle tray, you keep going back to. Flavours had mingled.
Heat-wise we were at pleasant dabbing-of-the-brow levels.
Talking of that pickle tray, it’s £3.25 but, with the usuals on there as well as a couple of new ones (a spiky plum thing did the job, spiced olives were new to us) is plenty for four people.
Main courses here are that bit pricier than many in Bradford (£7.50 – £10 for most) but that extra quid buys you that next level of quality. Plus it means they can afford to stick the free water into Mumtaz branded bottles. Jackpot.
We ordered four roti at 95p each, were advised to share three as ‘they’re big’, and ended up leaving one, which had us chuntering again about the bread up the road at Bharat.
It’d be nice/fashionable to be able to say the best curry so far on this quest of ours had been scoffed at some small, dingy, backstreet dive where we got change from a tenner. But it’s not, it was at Mumtaz. That big place with the spinning sign. It’s World Famous.
If you’re in Bradford it’ll be about a fiver in a taxi, but a fiver well spent.