Food that’s full of colour and joy on Barlow Moor Road
A brief history of Indian restaurants…My first forays to Indian restaurants were to the sort with brown swirly carpets. They were about as authentic as Findus crispy pancakes but because they weren’t Findus crispy pancakes they seemed unbelievably exotic with their chicken tikka masala and lamb rogan josh.
Next up, the Indian restaurant scene discovered neon and black leatherette bar stools. The food remained largely unchanged apart from some laughably huge naan breads but the carpets and rugs went the journey.
Fast forward to now and authentic Indian food is being sold all over Greater Manchester with chaat, dosas and bhel puri doing away with the former kormas of the recent past. This going back to the roots of Indian cooking, of re-imagining street food recipes has revitalised the region’s Indian restaurants and given me the opportunity to try some pretty exciting food. Sometimes, all this striving for authenticity can seem a little bit po-faced though and a little bit earnest.
Singh Sizzlers: A place doing its own thing – and doing it well
When you’re looking for somewhere to take the kids (ages five and three) an heirloom mung bean recipe handed down through the generations in not necessarily a crowd-pleaser. That’s where Singh Sizzlers comes in.
Singh Sizzlers doesn’t fit into any of the above categories of Indian restaurant. It’s not really like anywhere else I’ve been before. It has the atmosphere of a bar, albeit a family friendly one that serves great Indian food. While there are dishes like chicken 65 on the menu, there are also the eponymous sizzling platters. It doesn’t seem like Singh Sizzlers is chasing authenticity and yet they are more authentic for that. They are happy to just be themselves. It’s the sort of relaxed place you might come across in one of India’s big cities, where cocktails and curries come together to make a great place to hang out. Fortunately, I came across it on Barlow Moor Road in Chorlton.
Mocktails for the kids, cocktails for me
Singh Sizzlers is the perfect place for a family meal. Dining with children can mean lowering your culinary horizons but here there is something for everyone, without compromising on your dining experience. There are fruit juices aplenty to keep the kids happy: guava, mango, pomegranate, orange, apple, cranberry but what really made the eldest’s day were the mini-me mocktails. You’ve never seen a five-year-old seem so sophisticated with a strawberry mojito.
The cocktails themselves were a perfect pairing with our popadoms – especially the Cardamom Old Fashioned and the Jeera Mojito. Jeera is better known as cumin and the subtle spicy notes were a winner with the Indian food.
Indo-Chinese specialities and Singh Sizzlers
The menu is varied and we ordered far too much. Nothing went to waste though – it was all taken home for the next day in the brown paper bag of having-eyes-bigger-than-your-belly -shame.
We started off sharing bhajis, chicken 65 and garlic prawns. The colours on the chicken 65 may have been traffic light red but there was no stopping us. It was packed with flavour. The five-year-old wisely intoned, ‘it’s like being in a Chinese restaurant and an Indian restaurant all at the same time.’ Move over, Jay Rayner.
Almost anything on the menu can be made vegan or Jain – you just have to ask. The same easy-going flexibility is true of the kids menu too. There isn’t really a kids menu – you just choose something on the adult menu, and they bring out a child-size portion of it with the spices tamed on request. We ordered a butter chicken and an aloo baingan (potato and aubergine curry) for the kids which were reviewed respectively as ‘just right spicy’ and ‘yum’ and a biriyani sizzler and a signature sizzler for us.
It tastes too good for table manners
Everything was colourful and very well presented considering it was basically hot stuff on a skillet but there was an attention to detail which shows that care is being taken in the kitchen. The seasoning was spot on too. The meat was tender and the Schezwan noodles that came with the platter were a big hit – they kept being pilfered by our dining companions. Blame the parents for table manners like that.
In fact, table manners tell a lot. The sight of my son wolfing down butter chicken with a serving spoon may not reflect well on me, but it reflects well on the butter chicken.
We left, plied with after-dinner jalebi and it won’t be long before we return. Where else can you enjoy mini-me cocktails and curries like this together?