This remarkable Indian restaurant chain have pretty well got Yorkshire covered now. Starting in 1977, from Sheffield in the south to Skipton in the west to Tadcaster on the A64, the famous Aagrah chain of Kashmiri restaurants has expanded to 14 and counting, all on the back of a formula of dependable value and quality.
Mohammed Aslam, MBE, is Mr Aagrah, in the family business since he was 14. He cuts a striking figure in his whites, a man as likely to be found behind the stove as at his desk at Shipley head office. ‘I love cooking,’ he says ‘I’d much rather be here in the kitchen than in the office.’
For a man who arrived in England knowing no English his is a remarkable achievement. Down the years he has grown and streamlined the business, building new kitchens and engineering the veg prep, the meat butchering and the marinades in the vast kitchens in Shipley from where it is transported daily by refrigerated vehicle to all the branches to be cooked and finished fresh every day.
Of the 14 branches, Aagrah Leeds City is cool, contemporary and purpose-built beneath the BBC studios next to the West Yorkshire Playhouse; Tadcaster and Garforth are more traditional. At the mother ship of Shipley, the ground floor is all starched white linen with flowers on the table and an a la carte menu, while upstairs is the informal grill and buffet where chefs can be seen making fresh naan or grilling meat in the open plan ‘kitchen theatre’.
The menu is the same across the whole Aagrah group and while there are plenty of vegetable dishes like balti saag aloo paneer, a dish of spinach, new potatoes and cheese, Kashmiri and Punjabi cooking is predominantly meat-based with subtle spicing and what Aagrah does best. Try their melting and deep flavoured saag gosht; lamb with spinach or murgh chana; chicken with chick peas, yoghurt and methi. Or push the boat right out with a whole marinated stuffed lamb: £250 for 15 people, ordered in advance.
Everything is priced around £8.50 with irresistible buffet deals from the £7.95 Shipley business lunch to £12.95 for the mega buffet available in all branches of the Indian restaurant chain on Sunday or Monday nights.
Aagrah Leeds City, St Peter's Square, Quarry Hill, Leeds LS9 8AHTel 0113 245 5667
Review by Jill, 24 October 2011blog comments powered by Disqus