They’ve pretty much got the county covered for Indian restaurants. Starting in 1977, from Sheffield in the south to Tadcaster on the A64, this famous chain of Kashmiri restaurants runs to 11 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.
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 11 branches, Leeds is cool, contemporary and purpose-built beneath the BBC studios next to the West Yorkshire Playhouse. 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 group and while there are plenty of non-meat 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 in this branch is priced around £8.50 with irresistible street food platters starting at £7.95, Shipley business lunch buffet £9.95 a head and £14.95 for the mega buffet available in all branches of the Indian restaurant chain on Sunday or Monday nights.