Star billing is all the Raj

What do Darren Gough, Arthur Scargill and Mick McCarthy have in common?

Apart from being Yorkshire born and bred – the two sportsmen in Barnsley, King Arthur in Leeds – and attaining a certain amount of celebrity status, they're all partial to Indian food.

The man divulging such information is Mohammed Rahman, who just happens to be the owner of Anglo-Indian restaurant Dil Raj, in the heart of Dodworth, near Barnsley.

Now playing the fame game is all well and good – they've also had an actress from Emmerdale drop in and one of the cast from EastEnders – but it's the customers who are the really important people.

In the case of this particular eaterie, there's certainly plenty of them. It seats around 90 but when we arrived early on a Friday night it was very nearly full. Popular it most certainly is…

There's also a thriving takeaway.

The Dil Raj – it means Heart of the Raj – has built up its reputation over the last seven years since it took over the premises of the Horse and Jockey pub and its car park.

As such it doesn't look like your 'normal' Indian restaurant from the outside but as you would expect, traditional decor features strongly inside. There's a cream and red theme for the walls, a mural dominates two small ones while pictures are hung on all the others. Tapestry upholstered chairs and white tablecloths plus chandeliers with LED lights add more to the classy than the tacky.

The menu reads like a who's who of Indian cuisine. There's Appetisers, Tandoori, Seafood, Chef's Specials, Handi, Specials, Kashmir, Balti, Keema, Biryani, Methi, Prawn, Moyner, Ceylon, Chana, Madras, Dansak, Korma, Sag, Bhuna, Vindaloo, Vegetable Main and Balti Vegetable. Phew! All in all a mind-boggling 154 dishes – and that doesn't include side orders or sundries.

Wide-ranging? You'd better believe it. But it's not going to stop there, as they've just introduced a number of duck dishes.

Mohammed and Co are, however, looking after their customers' health as they don't use heavy oils or creams but rely on the authentic flavours to shine through.

We decided against the normal poppadoms and pickle tray and went straight into starter mode with the Tandoori Platter and Chingri Sizzler.

My platter (3.50) was a sizzling mixture of chicken Tikka and a meaty Sheek keebab served with stir fried onions and peppers while the Chingri featured a good-sized helping of sizzling tiger prawns stir fried with potatoes and onions (3.95).

The star of the show was definitely M's lamb handi. This is a unique style of cooking and it's a little spicier than your average curry but there's no doubting the end result was delicious.

Most Indian restaurants cook the lamb on the bone for this particular dish: not so at Dil Raj. The chunks of meat were lovely and tender while the reduced, flavour-filled sauce just left you wanting more. Great value at 6.95.

My Chicken Tikka Rogan Josh from the Chef's Specials was somewhat bland by comparison. Chunks of chicken were topped with freshly cooked tomatoes and onions but the supposed medium hot, thick sauce was not particularly hot nor particularly thick. Overall it was pleasant enough but it seemed to lack any real pizzaz.

We shared a very colourful pilau rice and a light and extremely moreish Peshwari nan.

There's an extensive wine list with a good mix of reds and whites, which is very reasonably priced. The House Wine retails at 9.50 a bottle and 2.30 per glass while the most expensive is a Chablis at just short of 20.

I prefer either Cobra or Kingfisher beer (2.80 draught; 2.50 bottled) although there are a number of others available including John Smiths Smooth, Stella, Budweiser, sweet and dry cider and Guinness.

This time round we stuck to a jug of Mango Lassi (7.95), which also acted as our dessert.

The total cost of food came to 27.05p.

Verdict: Can see why this place is all the raj but some people may find the menu overwhelming. Very helpful and efficient service. Put it on your 'to visit' list – you might even see Goughie…

Opening hours: Sunday to Thursday 5.30-11.00pm; Friday and Saturday 5.30-11.30pm (including all Bank Holidays).

Dil Raj, 8-12 High Street, Dodworth, Barnsley. Telephone: 01226 202606 or 299567.