Hello everyone, today I’m at Miah’s Kitchen, an indian restaurant in the heart of Leeds.
And I’m here with a group of friends and co-workers to put their menu to the test because I got a tip off that they do the only vegetarian naga dish in the city.
Not that that’s the only exciting thing on their menu.
But, before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at things in the order they actually unfolded because, while we may not have ordered any starters, there was still a little something before the main course. Some popadoms and a few dips to get things going.
Going clockwise from the top right, we had a tart but slightly sweet tomato and chilli sauce followed by a homemade mango chutney, a green side salad and a dry tandoori coconut mix.
The tomato chilli sauce was a little hotter than expected, at a
but nothing too serious and, flavourwise, it was a lot like less sweet ketchup.
Similarly, the mango chutney was not too unlike your average, only with a little less of that sweetened vinegar taste and a bit more fruity mango pulp.
These two true dips were good, especially in combination, but they weren’t really anything special. And nor was the sharp, onion-based salad, despite what the addition of coriander leaves did for it.
No, it was the sweet tandoori coconut that stole the show, with its mild but delicious blend of spice flavours atop a dessicated coconut base. It was simple, yet had plenty of depth to it and it was generally agreed that we would order it as a meal if we could.
We couldn’t, though. And so, after a short while spent silently enjoying this little appetiser, the only sound the audible snap of the fresh popadoms, we moved on to our mains.
The most impressive of which was this, the Tikka Rezala:
A heavily onion-based red curry, with enough sambuca added at the end that the dish could be served literally on fire. This gave the meal a really strong undertone of star anise but also kept it sizzling away until the very last minute, further caramelising the onions to make a wonderfully sweet, dōpiaza-like curry.
Its burn was on the low end of my scale’s
more the very top of medium than actually hot and manifesting more as a beautiful, warming glow all over than any single-spot scorching flame.
But, while delicious and by far the most visually stunning of our meals, it wasn’t the only one to impress us with its sizzling sauce.
Another one of their house specials, the Shashlik Karai, also arrived with its thick, tomato and tamarind-based sauce still simmering away in the traditional cast iron vessel from which the Karai name comes.
Yet this was the only real similarity between the two curries as, while they did both contain a fair bit of onion, the veg in this particular dish had been grilled in a tandoor oven alongside its marinated meat. Which did sweeten it a bit but not to nearly the extent of the Rezala’s onions. And, more importantly, it crisped them up nicely for a good little physical bite.
Not to be confused with the other sort of bite – It’s chilli content.
This particular menu item was also fairly medium, sitting at a slightly lower
The whole dish had a large, chunky texture, which I find makes some curries quite difficult to eat with chapati or naan but it otherwise worked perfectly for the Karai. Especially as it meant we got a good deal of the spiced chicken in there.
And, of course, we had ordered an array of carbohydrates to provide a backup option when the chunks were too hard to grasp.
A little bit of lemon rice cut through the deep, rich flavour of this dish and complimented the tamarind undertones well, while also helping to freshen our palates between curries.
So, speaking of having it with other dishes, here’s that lemon rice alongside their Biriyani, as well as a couple of sides that we’d ordered.
The first of these was a
Tarka Daal, kept heatless like many indian sides are to be a source of cooling if you need it.
Interestingly, though, this was a departure from your average Daal in a other ways, too. It wasn’t thick, heavy or lumpy like the sort I’m familiar with.
No, this Daal was thinner. Lentil flavoured, certainly, but with a smoother and less paste-like consistency that more closely resembled soup.
And, while it was lightly spiced, it had no real heat to it, just a strong lentil and roast garlic flavour that made for quite the change from our mains.
I wasn’t so into it but the more lentil loving among us really were so I guess this is more a matter of personal tastes. Just like our second side, which was very much for the okra lovers, not just for anyone.
In most places, Bhindi Bhaji is a deep, rich, tomatoey curry with okra for its vegetables. At Miah’s Kitchen, though, it was less like a curry with okra and more like okra with slight hints of the curry.
What little sauce there was was thick and clung well to the soft pieces of fried okra that made up the vast majority of the dish. And these pieces were some of the best okra I’ve ever had.
They were light and soft but far from rubbery or squishy. Instead, they were practically melt in the mouth, which is something I never even knew the vegetable could be.
It’s not a dish for everyone but, with a mere
any serious okra lover will be able to enjoy the side as much as I did.
Getting back to the mains, though, the Biriyani we ordered also came in at just a
slightly lower than that of their Bhindi, even, and it barely warranted that high a rating. It was mild. Very lightly spicy, you might say, as well as being lightly spiced.
And, of course, while we did have lemon rice, the Biriyani didn’t need any carbohydrate to acompany it because it came with its own. This absolute mountain of similarly spiced yellow rice which proved to be well in excess of what a single person could manage.
Despite neither being anything too strong flavoured on its own, the biriyani and its rice came together into a full bodied and satisfying dish all the same and we were quite pleased at how well the texture of its cabbage had survived being cooked.
Then came our Veg Ceylon, which seemed to focus a little less on the dansak-esque sweet and sour elements the menu mentioned and a lot more on the coconut it had promised.
It provided an unusual mix of a tomato base and a strong use of coconut milk that I, personally, would say was better suited to fish, prawn or chicken, with its hint of lemon only strengthening my sense that seafood would have been a better fit.
It was a decent enough low medium dish, reaching the top of my scale’s
and having a very creamy texture, but, as a vegetarian meal for my vegetarian friends, it wasn’t one that particularly excelled.
While our very non-vegetarian dish, the Devdas, certainly didn’t dissapoint heatwise. With a pleasant buildup to a strong
in the mouth, it wasn’t absolutely killer but it certainly did manage to place up there with some of the Vindaloos I’ve had.
It came with a choice of chicken or lamb but, having been promised both on the menu, we couldn’t settle for just the one and Miah’s staff were more than happy to accommodate.
The meat was, like that in the Shashlik Karai, tadoor grilled and spiced with a relatively standard spice mix, only this time a rather hotter one than that in the Karai.
After this, the meat was further cooked in a rich and surprisingly creamy tomato-based sauce, leaving it wonderfully tender.
It wasn’t anything special in terms of ingredients but it was exquisitely well done, both with regard to how the meat was cooked and how well it was marinated. I’d certainly consider ordering it again.
Yet there was one more dish. The one that first brought us here. The Tikka Naga:
This fiery little number was rich, red, dry and just a little bitter in its flavour. An obvious relative of the more common “Achari” indian pickle-based curries.
Its heat was slow and throaty but weirdly bearable, despite its
peak placing it up there with some of the milder Phaals and above any of the more common hot dishes. It strangely seemed to take a back seat to the flavour, into which the superhot pepper’s deep, rich, slightly fruity, red chilli taste fit perfectly.
It was not the blow you away heat we were expecting but rather something that every single one of our chilli loving group were able to enjoy at least a little of, despite our wildly varying heat tolerances.
If you’re not into the hotter end of the curry spectrum, I wouldn’t order one of these all to yourself but, if you can take a medium, it’s still worth trying a bit of because this honestly feels like a natural evolution of its curry type. It just works.
And, in case you couldn’t tell from my description, the naga flavour in here feels very familiar. Quite reminiscent of the paste I reviewed over christmas. I can’t say anything for sure but I strongly suspect that this isn’t a coincidence. That Miah’s Kitchen are one of those places that use Mr Naga as a “secret ingredient”.
And, with that, our meal was done. They didn’t have a desert menu but their staff were lovely, caring and attentive, going out of their way for us while never even once questioning my photography.
In fact, they went out of their way to make sure that I got a great shot of the Rezala. It’s entirely my fault that a couple of the pictures are missing. I got too caught up in taking notes and having a good time with friends.
In the end, I would strongly reccomend this place as, even with every member of our group ordering an entirely different meal, we didn’t have a single bad dish. Everything was to our liking and their Tikka Rezala, in particular, was spectacular, both visually and flavour-wise.
The only thing is, there are two Miah’s Kitchen restaurants in Leeds. We only went to the one closest to the train station so I cannot speak for the other. I do hear, however, that this is the better of the two.