Indian Tiffin Room has travelled across the Pennines to open a new restaurant in Leeds…
Wagamama has upped sticks, leaving a prime piece of real estate up for grabs – and it’s been snapped up by Manchester’s Indian Tiffin Room. Their new restaurant is a feast for the eyes – from the murals on the walls to the flowers dangling from the ceiling and the henna-style patterns on their elaborate arches, there’s something new to see everywhere you look.
They’ve created distinctive zones within the venue, so you can go in and have a quiet catch up with your mates or book an all-out party, and the decor changes as you move through the venue. They’ve got cosy booths upholstered with brightly coloured materials in one place and industrial bar stalls in another. But at the end of the day, it’s not the decor you come for – it’s the food.
“The food we do isn’t like the regular Indian food you get in a restaurant,” Harshit Chopra, General Manager of Indian Tiffin Room in Leeds, told us. “We don’t do Jalfrezi, Poppadoms, Vindaloo, Onion Bhajis, there’s no Madras or Jalfrezi, because in India that’s not what you eat. It’s all been Westernised and we want to be authentic. Our concept is more Indian street food, especially with the starters, it’s the things you get on the street in India, it’s all cooked in front of you, made fresh and cooked to order.”
It’s designed for sharing, with small tapas-style dishes alongside more traditional mains – and the menu is incredibly diverse. They haven’t focused on one area, instead they’ve tried to give you a taste of all 26 states, each of which has its own unique culture and cuisine, so you can try a dosa with Madurai flavours or one with Mysore spices.
They have an open kitchen to recreate the magic of the streets of India, where you can watch them at work as they put together everything from chaat and tiffin to kebabs cooked over charcoal and even a range of Indo-Chinese dishes like Haka Noodles and Schezwan Rice. So while you may not find your ‘usual’ Indian dish on the menu, there’s every chance you could discover a new favourite. And because it’s all made to order, you’re in control – you choose the spice level, you tell them what you can’t eat (goodbye gluten and coriander be gone).
The real challenge here is choosing what to order. With such a lengthy menu, you could be here a while, which is why we asked Chopra for his personal recommendations, “Our kebabs are all cooked on the Tandoor, so they’re actually cooked over charcoals, it’s not gas. It means all the kebabs have a smokey charcoal flavour. The lamb chops are really popular here, they’re marinated in Tandoor spices, as well as yoghurt, coriander and cumin, with a little bit of lemon juice. Everyone comes back for these. They are really special.”
You could couple those with Dahi Puri, a pastry made with chickpea, potato and yogurt – each one is bite-sized, but they pack a real punch in the flavour department. Or what about the Gobi Manchurian? It’s another small, street food plate, but this one promises cauliflower as you’ve never tried it before – it has Indo-Chinese influences, with a mix of soy, chilli, peppers and onions. They use both Chinese and Indian spices in the dish and the cauliflower soaks up all the flavours, taking it to new heights. Both of these dishes are vegetarian and there are plenty more where they came from.
Alongside the food, you’ll have the chance to try Indian wine. They’re rare here in the UK, so they’ve imported it specially from Bangalore. It sits somewhere between 20 degrees and 32 degrees over there, so the grapes are naturally ripe with a full flavour. But if you’d prefer your go-to vino, they have all the usuals on the wine list too.
Alternatively, why not try one of their cocktails? They’re a little bit different to the norm – oh, you’ll find all the classics here, but they’ve been given a taste of India with their spice infusions. The Piña Colada comes with a kick of chilli, the Martinis are made with rose petals and The Old Fashioned has a burnt cinnamon stick in it.
Indian Tiffin is a tasty addition to Leeds, and one that’s worth checking out – let us know what you think.
Indian Tiffin Room, 31-32 Park Row, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5JD.