Alishaan: unoriginal, but ideal for that curry night

By Nick Searle-Donoso First Year English Literature.

Photograph taken by Nick Searle-Donoso

Who doesn’t love a curry from a classically westernised curry house? But the real question is: what makes a good curry? I am certainly no expert. What can I say? When I have a curry, I enjoy a banquet of indulgence and nostalgia that never disappoints, and the nuances and complexities of Indian spicing do not generally enter my mind. Therefore, it was with a certain wariness that I decided to review Alishaan, an eclectically decorated expansive restaurant with black-and-white Mughal-esque paintings, oddly placed mirrors, and richly patterned, green and black paisley walls.

For me, one of the fundamentals of an Indian is to over-order but, unfortunately, student life is student life, and so, economy had to come before gluttony. A classic problem when ordering a curry is an excess of sauce and meat which prevents total enjoyment of the trimmings, by which I mean the naan, rice, poppadoms, etc. At Alishaan, I tried a revolutionary tactic: ordering the curry as the starter, which not only saves money, but also room in the belly for the all-important sides. Feeling ashamedly British, I ordered the lamb tikka, salvaged only by the lack of ‘masala’ at the end (which would have been undeniably British). I ordered pilau rice, plain naan and poppadoms. Let’s just say, at Alishaan, I wasn’t experimenting.

The lamb tikka arrived: tender lamb covered in aromatic spices and dahi (yoghurt), accompanied with a smear of tamarind paste, an inconsequential side salad, poppadoms resting on a silver platter, rice with multicoloured flecks, and naan, which was perfectly crisp in certain areas and soft in others.

Admittedly, it was Sunday night, but the restaurant felt lifeless and the atmosphere was only salvaged by the Bhangra music oscillating gently in the background. Perhaps, it was my dining choices (I wasn’t intending to be radical), but there didn’t seem to be anything particularly revolutionary about Alishaan’s approach to Indian cuisine. While the twenty percent discount on the website may sound attractive, what the website doesn’t reveal is that the discount only applies when you pay with cash: a revelation which resulted in a quick post-dinner dash to the nearest cash point. Nevertheless, for that curry night, which everyone needs once in a while, Alishaan is a solid and student-friendly option.

Want to share your thoughts? We actively encourage discussion and debate and would love to hear your opinion! If you’d like to write a full response, or if you have any thoughts on this article that you would like to share with us, please comment below or email johns.chronicle@durham.ac.uk.

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