The Purple Pakora is the latest, perhaps the 4th or 5th, branch of a successful local Indian food chain to open. They have taken over the Basmati restaurant on Brabyns Brow between Marple and Marple Bridge. A good pitch, opposite the station, on a main road and with ample parking close by. Despite a good location, Basmati never seemed to succeed though, it didn’t have anything to recommend it over it’s numerous local competitors unless you consider surly staff and the initial lack of a credit card machine to be a good USP.
The Purple Pakora guys are taking a fresh look at the business of going out for a curry. They recognise that for many people, particularly ladies , going out is more than just the food and consequently all their restaurants are well fitted out in a modern, tasteful way. They have obviously invested heavily in professional design and shopfits. This pays dividends as their client base feel they are having more of a night out and consequently will pay a premium for the food and drink.
I remember a friend of mine years ago in Lincolnshire telling me the ideal crop rotation scenario for the local farmers: Beet, Barley, Bungalows, Bahamas. Are curry
restaurants following a similar pattern to earn their fortune: Bangladesh, Balti, Bubble walls, Branding ? What is it with Indian restaurants and Bubble walls? Was there some
article in one of their trade magazines extolling the virtues and the positive impact on trade of this latest “must have” for any up and coming curry house?
After a day out at Chatsworth with our Hong Kong son and his girl, we decided to book a table to eat. A wise decision as, although a Thursday evening in the holiday season,
the restaurant was busy when we arrived and full when we left. We were shown to a table at the rear of the restaurant , next to a circular porthole window and under the “Bubble Wall”. The waiters were brisk and professional and, noting that we were 4, pointed out the special offer of a set meal for 4 people at £14.95 a head. This comprised papadums, a mixed starter with a persian salad, 4 curries with the opportunity to change a dish if requested and unlimited rice and naan. This last is somewhat wasted on us as over the years, I have found I eat less of the rice and prefer a less filling chapati to naan with my curries.
The menu is a departure from the usual with a number of attempts to bring Indian food into the 21st century and entertain (Prawn McCartney, Karahi Kid and Helicopter Naan) but, although amusing, Chocolate and Caramel Kormas can wait until someone else tells me that they work before I would order them. So , with the set menu looking good value and a painless way of assessing the food, we elected to follow our waiters suggestion.
Drinks were ordered and briskly supplied, including the jug of tap water, which in many places seems to be the Cinderella of any drinks order, irritatingly “forgotten”, as if
somehow that would encourage a diner to order a revenue earning drink instead. “Excuse me waiter, you appear to have overlooked my request for water, would you bring me a bottle of Moet et Chandon instead?” The papadums soon followed with a comprehensive pickle tray including, somewhat strangely, coleslaw. so far so good.
The starters were served on two plates and consisted of a seek kebab, two onion bhajis, some fried garlic mushrooms and two pieces of chicken tikka. It was served with some lettuce, cucumber and tomato together with the usual lemon slice. Quite why this is a Persian salad is still a mystery though. Perhaps its the lemon slice. Pleasant enough without being startling. The seek kebab was a bit bland for me.
On to the main event of the four curries: Karahi Chicken, Lamb Rogan Josh, Chicken Tikka Nagpuri and the bizarrely named Chicken Tikka chom chom. We had also requested a side
dish of Tarka Dhal. The quantity of food was adequate for our party although some may consider the portions on the small side. The Tarka dhal side dish was certainly a bit
minimal. The rice was good and we were provided with two naans , a plain and a garlic and coriander one. One complaint would be the latest craze for a “Naan stand” A sort of
faux Philippe Starck contraption upon which the naans hang vertically like a doughy curtain. It seems to have the dual purpose of increasing the number of covers in a
restaurant, due to space saving, and accelerating the bread’s cooling process. Neither is of any benefit to the diner. Back to the curries, all were passable, the Karahi lamb pronounced good by our resident, self-styled Karahi expert, The Dhal well flavoured and thick and, although a tasty and spicy dish , the Chicken Tikka Nagpuri is served as “diced” , Dolly mixture sized would be a better description and it was far too fine a dice for me.
Overall the meal was a success and I would go back, the Purple Pakora is definitely an example of the whole being greater than it’s parts. As a evening out it is a pleasant
experience. Our bill with the four special menus , an added vegetable side dish and some Lal Toofa Bangladeshi lager came to £74. A similar meal at Simply Indian in New Mills
a couple of weeks since cost less than £50 for four. But full marks to the Purple Pakora for adding another venue to eat locally and for an excellent renovation of the premises
both internally and externally.