On track to be a family favourite

Rajdhani Dore. chef Ayed Ali
Rajdhani Dore. chef Ayed Ali
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A lacklustre sandwich is the usual fare to be found at a railway station.

Residents - and commuters - at Dore station are now rather spoiled for choice.

review Rajdhani, Dore railway station.

review Rajdhani, Dore railway station.

To the right is Peppercorn restaurant and as of one month ago, there is new family Indian restaurant, Rajdhani, to the left.

But, like many a train service, it has been a long time coming.

Owner Fojal Miah was one of many hoping to take over the former Deli Junction - headed up by Naz Islam.

He has waited four years for improvements to the station to be complete before he could transform the old station building - which also needed a new roof - in a careful £165,000 refurbishment to respect the building’s heritage.

“I should be on Grand Designs”, the man formerly behind Ayesha on Ecclesall Road, and with 22 years of experience in restaurants, jokes.

“That’s what my builder said.”

“There were a lot of people interested in having the building. It came down to two – there was stiff competition.

“After that it has taken four years to get the roof done and everything sorted - it has been stressful and a long four years.

“It has been worth it – I am happy with it.

“I was thinking to have two big fish tanks, one on the chimney breast and one in the bar but we couldn’t because of finances. They cost around £11,000 each.

“In three or four years time, perhaps.”

The lack of fish tanks aside - Rajdhani has a stunning interior design.

Framed black and white photographs of the station hang on the walls, interspersed with busts of Indian gods.

It is all cool greys and silvers, with modern lampshades and mosaic tiles like sparkling gems in the ladies’ bathroom.

There’s also the pleasant chance to see and feel the evening trains passing by, which is apparently a big hit with younger diners.

We turned up on a funny evening, as there had been a family wedding in Manchester, so the restaurant had opened only for one table and any walk-ins.

It meant a small wait in the bar area while staff finished setting up and apologised profusely , although a few minutes later our beaming waiter was asking the silly question ‘fancy some poppadoms?’

For a grey Sunday evening it was suprisingly busy with both tables and takeaways.

That has been the case since opening, said Mr Miah, who also runs Ashoka in Chesterfield.

Perhaps it is proof that nearby diners were as hungry for it to open as he was, and it helps that there are just 42 seats to fill.

“At a weekend it is booking only, and tonight we are almost full too”, he said.

“I didn’t expect that.”

On to the food.

The poppadoms were spicy and crunchy, good enough to eat on their own.

There were six pickles to dip into, including a lime pickle so tangy sour it almost turned the mouth inside out and a moreish Rajdhani special.

It was thick with tomatoes, onion and garlic, though the waiter wouldn’t reveal any other ingredients.

We finished all of it anyway.

Rajdhani offers many of the traditional favourites, baltis, kormas and biryanis, but with plenty of out-of-the-ordinary options.

The two chefs have added Bangladeshi dishes to their repertoire, as well as family favourites like lamb and baby potatoes , and menus will change every six months to be as seasonal as possible..

First choice for the starter was a fish bhaji - apparently one of the most popular meals, constantly selling out - but alas there was none in the house.

I opted instead for the garlic mushroom puree, not really a sauce but finely sliced delicate mushrooms, flecked with herbs and soaking in garlic inside pancake-like puree bread.

Squeezed lemon cut through the strong garlic taste.

His chicken tikka was dry outside and juicy in, cooked until succulent, although there wasn’t enough of it to really share.

The other half isn’t one for over exaggeration, but he is a fan of sticking rigidly to a stock favourite.

So when he said the lamb tikka bhuna was the ‘ one of the best I’ve ever tasted’, it was a bold statement indeed.

Both our deep bowls were filled to the brim with curry topped with coriander, his with ample sauce containing plenty of lamb with no fat on.

He said it was cooked to absolute perfection.

I’d gone a little bit wilder and chosen the ghust shatkora, something that I’d never seen on a menu before.

For the uninitiated like me, shatkora is a tangy, aromatic fruit from Bangladesh, according to the menu.

That wasn’t the overriding taste though, as the cinammon was dominant.

This wasn’t a problem as the spice and lamb are a marriage made in heaven.

At first the curry, scattered with coriander, tasted deceptively mild but a few mouthfuls in became nose-tingling hot.

We shared a pilau rice, which was fine but didn’t have much to write home about and a kulcha naan bread topped with crunchy onions and chillis.

It was a soft, billowy background to the sauce - and was definitely a finer example of a naan.

We paid £38 .90 between us with soft drinks.

l Rajdhani, The Old Station, Abbeydale Road South, Call 0114 2353 280.