Aagrah is an award winning Indian restaurant chain with eateries across Yorkshire. I’d heard good things about the food on offer at the chain, which is now 44 years old, but hadn’t ever had the chance to visit.
So when Aagrah reached out to Leeds Living to attend the launch of their new menu, I jumped at the opportunity. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make the media launch night, but Aagrah kindly invited me to visit and try out their food last week.
So, after work on Wednesday evening, I took the bus to the City Centre and walked down to the restaurant, which is located next to the BBC Yorkshire building, close to the bus station. I was able to take a plus one, so my boyfriend was roped in to help me try out the food on offer. When we arrived, there was only one other couple in the restaurant which never helps a restaurant feel very welcoming – but thankfully, within a few minutes other parties had arrived and the atmosphere soon picked up.
At our table, we had a good view of outside as well as a wide view of the well decorated and inviting interior. We ordered some water and our friendly waiter brought us a plate of poppadoms with pickles. The pickle selection was good and the poppadoms were very good and crunchy and helped to keep us entertained whilst we decided what to eat.
The first dish we chose was a Peshwari naan as we both love it and find that the quality of the naan can tell you a lot about an Indian restaurant. The naan that arrived with our meal was not like one we had had before. Firstly, it didn’t have a coconut filling, which is typical of other Peshwari naans that I have eaten. The naan also had raisins on top and was drizzled with a pineapple syrup. The bread itself was not as fluffy as I would have expected either, which would normally have meant that it would have been marked down in my books, but thanks to the unusual flavour and style of this naan, it worked well. We both enjoyed using it to mop up our curry sauce and would recommend that others give it a go.
For the main course, we opted for a new chicken dish, which came with lemon pilau rice, roasted vegetables, a chickpea and lentil curry, tandoori spiced chicken and a pomegranate salad. The dish was really tasty. I loved the flavour of the chickpea curry and enjoyed the freshness of the salad. I thought the lemon rice was unusual and helped to balance out the spiciness of the chicken. The chicken was a good combination with the rice and curry.
We had also ordered a lamb Balti. It was a generous portion with lots of tender lamb. The sauce itself was rich and well flavoured but could for us have had a little more of a kick. However, when eaten with the other parts of our meal, we enjoyed it, and I loved dipping the naan into the sauce.
When we were halfway through our meal, our waiter came over to give us some beer, which had been specially brewed for Aagrah by Kirkstall Brewery. Although we were grateful for the gesture, neither of us drinks beer, and so we felt that to give it a proper review, we should enlist the support of another diner. The diner, who was a self confessed curry lover and a beer drinker, said that the beer was fresh, crisp and went well with a curry. He compared it to a Tiger or a Kingfisher, which he explained are both popular beers to accompany curry.
We both had a very enjoyable meal at Aagrah and made new friends whilst we were there. There is a good reason why Aagrah is award-winning, and why the company has thrived through the years. I recommend trying the new menu – some new flavours to enjoy, underpinned by those which have long endeared Indian food to us.
Photography by Gemma Bridge.