Royal Nawaab: A not so small hidden Gem

When a restaurant doesn’t sit in the heart of the city it has to do something special to pull in the punters. How many times have you eaten in a swanky restaurant in the middle of Manchester city centre, impressed with the décor, but underwhelmed by agonisingly average food?  

There are brilliant hidden gems spread out across Manchester that many visitors will miss on their trip, but which definitely deserve a dedicated trip to sample the menu. One of these hidden gems is Royal Nawaab.

This Indian and Pakistani banquet hall doesn’t follow the usual trend of hidden gems of being the size of a…well, a gem. This banquet hall is built in an old Levenshulme cinema on Stockport Road and is massive; both in size and in scope of selection and flavours. The streets outside are lined with brightly lit takeaways, but it is the bright lights of Royal Nawaab that eclipse everything else.

Stepping through the door at Nawaab is like stepping into a Bollywood movie set; pictures of famous Bollywood stars past and present adorn the walls and a grand fountain takes centre stage in the lobby. Through a side door you enter the restaurant where you face a sea of seats, and on the horizon, one of the biggest selections of Indian and Pakistani cuisine anywhere in Manchester.

The banquet itself has one of the largest selections of starters and sides; including samosas, puri, naans and poppadoms, kebabs, chicken wings and spring rolls, all cooked to absolute perfection.

Some dishes you will recognise as part of every Indian feast you’ve ever had, but there are some rarer surprises like the fish masala; deep fried chunks of white fish marinated in a masala blend that will become your new addiction.

Once you’ve piled through a few plates of starters in an attempt to try it all, you can move on to a huge selection of curries ranging from mild chicken jalfrezis and chicken kormas, medium curries like daal, handi, karhi pakora, all the way to a handful of super-hot curries for the braver palettes.

A personal favourite is their authentic lamb or chicken Balti. The succulent meat and infused rice create a dish that is impossible to pass without piling your plate high once you’ve set your eyes on it.

Save some space, because the selection of desserts is one to bring out the child in every visitor. You’ll be frozen in wide-eyed wonder at their delicious ice cream selection. But make sure you try some of their unique Pakistani and Indian desserts that will make you feel nostalgic for a childhood you never knew. Gajar Halwa, a sweet carrot, nut and cream dish is the carrot cake you’ve never had before, and Umm Ali is a traditional Egyptian bread pudding served with flaky pastry, raisins and sultanas that deserves a few bowlfuls.