ITR First Street – first for street food
STREET food this, street food that… street food seems to have become a buzzword bandied around to describe any old meal slapped with a cool moniker and a hefty mark-up. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and Indian Tiffin Room – ITR to you and me – is here to prove it, being one of the first (and remaining the best) to roll out Indian street food inspired by the thronged roadside vendors of the subcontinent. The recipes are authentic, although here (the three ITR restaurants can be found at Manchester First Street, Leeds and Cheadle, where it all started) you get to sit down, and not just hang about the booth or cart you’re served from.
Everything that leaves ITR’s bustling open kitchen – actually made to look a little like one of those food trucks, with its painted blue container façade at the Manchester restaurant– is prepared to order from super-fresh produce, flavour-packed authentic ingredients and lots more healthy options than you tend to find at other purveyors of similar cuisine. The result is a lighter and healthier alternative to many other Indian eateries, and a street food experience with all the gain and none of the pain, putting a smile on your face as well as colour on your plate (a real plate, dammit!).
ITR specialises in thalis (a kind of grazing platter that gives you a bit of everything to try – mini buffet on a plate!) and south Indian tiffins (mouthwatering tapas dishes that can be had though out the day!!), but there’s plenty more besides, including a range of kebabs cooked in the charcoal tandoor, Indo-Chinese choices served with rice or noodles, and Indian highway mains with rotis or naans. There are also samosas, vada pav – Indian veg burgers, dosa - rice pancakes, filled puffed hollow pastry puris and chaats, described as “finger-licking good”. Meat-free,plant-based and Vegandishes certainly aren’t skimped on, and there’s plenty for pudding too, from traditional gulab jamon dumplings and classic kulfi ice cream to vegan kesari bath saffron-infused semolina. And you don’t have to stand outside to eat it.