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This week was a trip down memory alley
I was in deepest darkest or rather whitest Cheltenham and I felt a craving for some old fashioned, salt of the earth desi salan roti so there was only 3 places that fit the description closeby, which was, Southall, Balti Triangle Birmingham or the Curry Mile Manchester,
I did that eeny meeny thing and chose The Curry Mile=, AKA Wilmslow Road in Manchester,
The last time I was in Rusholme was about 20 years earlier and it was a fascinating place, a cross between Anarkali Lahore and Deira Dubai.
If you ever wanted to study the Sociology and socioeconomics of post-war Pakistani immigrants then all you needed to do was sit on Wilmslow Road on a Sunday and watch it all unfold in front of you,
On the bottom of the triangle you have the newly arrived immigrants from Mirpur who went straight to work in the Manchester Mills, they had one day off and they descended en masse on Wilmslow Road to buy their weekly rations.
Next up in the chain were the waiters of the restaurants on the curry mile,
they were usually from the “Pindi” triangle and they looked down on their mill working brethren but looked up at the owners of the restaurants and aspired to own their own curry houses.
At top of the pile were the garment factory owners from the “Manchester of Pakistan” which is Faisalabad, they had done well in life and went to Wilmslow Road to enjoy being at the top of the socio-economic pile, they would drive up and down Wilmslow Road in their Mercedes and BMW;s and blasting the latest bhangra track from Alapp .
As I negotiated past Birmingham to manchester traffic and then around the confusing Manchester ring road I arrived at the Curry Mile…but wait ? was I at the right place?
The Wilmslow Road I had known had disappeared, in its place was what I could only describe as a Kurdish Benidorm, the restaurants had been replaced by Shisha lounges and Kobida Cafe’s garishly decked out on neon and blasting out “Arabic trash” pop songs.
The mostly male clientele smoking the shisha and watching the girls go by like lizards basking in the sun.
You had the wanna be Bradford and Oldham roadmen who were the descendants of the mill workers driving up and down Wilmslow Road in the rented sports cars and calling each other “bro” and “yarra” and generally making a nuisance of themselves,
The only place that was not changed from my last visit was the Sanam sweet house and restaurant, so I quickly made a beeline for the Sanam.
I walked in and felt at home, no garush neon and loud music…just an old school Manchester curry shop… bliss
I kicked off the proceedings with some popaddoms and dips
Next up was some lamb seekh kebab
The kebab hit the right spot, the keema mixture was the right ratio of lamb mince and fat, the kebab was moist and delicately spiced with a nice charcoal flavour from the charcoal tandoor.
the Lamb Chops was equally good, tender lamb with a touch of ajwain, definitely not overpowered by masala.
the Lamb Karahi was not bad not the best I have tasted but a decent effort, the diced lamb itself felt a little dry and little bit grissly , could possibly be frozen New Zealand mutton
The spices were subtle.
The Jalfrazi was average, it was full of green peppers for my liking and under spiced. especially as the manager said it would be spicy.
The Sanam was a welcome bit of old fashioned sanity in the middle of “Kurdish Benidorm”
the food was above average and not over-spiced,
The service was basic and functional with a weird point, I asked for a glass of tap water and the manager said we only do bottled mineral water, very odd indeed,
The Star of the Meal?
I would go for the Seekh Kebab and maybe the lamb chops?
he miss of the Meal?
definitely the Chicken Ja;frezi and no tap water!
How did The Sanam compare against its desi peers?
It was not as good as Tayabbs in Whitechapel nor was it as food as Giftos Lahore Karahi in Southall
However, it was better than the Kebabish Original.
on par with the Mumtaz in Bradford.
The Chicken and Lamb Served in the restaurant is 100% HALAL
NO Alcohol is served on the Premises
Pork is NOT served on the Premises
100% impartial Guarantee
Alfie Foodwala visits all restaurants anonymously and pays for the bill like any other customer, Alfie Foodwala does not except free meals in return for meals
All reviews are the personal opinion of Alfie Foodwala based on his 30-year experience.