Wedded to good food

Arooj Restaurant
Arooj Restaurant

Tucked away in an unpromising-looking part of Attercliffe is an Asian restaurant that has big ideas.

Arooj, which has taken over old industrial premises on Attercliffe Road, houses a restaurant plus a private banqueting room and a massive hadi hall for Asian weddings.

There’s also a set-up for a cafe-style area selling Indian sweets, although this part of the business plan has yet to come off.

There’s been one big change in the four months since Arooj has been open – they’ve dropped the Chinese food off the menu as demand didn’t justify offering it.

The restaurant area is big and has a certain style.

The comfortable-looking black and red booths lining one wall are very tall and there are plenty more tables.

You can even sit in one of two separate little rooms with low tables and leather cushions if you’d like things to be a little more traditional.

The lighting overhead changes colour between different pastel shades every few seconds and my friend Janet and I found this made the menu quite hard to read. The small type didn’t help.

The kitchen, down one end, is semi-open and you can watch the chefs at work.

We accepted an offer of poppadoms and pickles (£2) while we decided what to eat.

The pickles were interesting, with the lime one our favourite. Don’t think the yoghurt will cool you down as it’s got a spicy kick.

Thoughtful points of the service included asking us if we wantedto keep the pickle tray to enjoy with our starters.

They’re not licensed but you can take alcohol.

We’d decided to give our livers a rest a few days after New Year’s Eve and opted for a jug of mango juice for £5.

The choice on the menu is mainly mainstream Asian restaurant fare but there are a few more unusual choices like taka-tak, a dish from Lahore in Pakistan which is made with a mixture of offal.

Prices are very reasonable, especially given the quality of the food. Both starters were £3.50 and the main courses are mostly well below £10.

Janet went for the Lahori fish and I chose the Afghan boti chicken.

The fish was a generous portion, a fillet that had been coated in a spicy batter.

Both fish and coating melted beautifully in the mouth.

My boti, pieces of chicken cooked very well in a tandoor oven, were nice and juicy.

We were asked if we wanted a break before the main courses arrived.

My main course was a lamb haleem (£6.90). This is a strange dish as the meat and the lentils are pureed together into a smooth paste.

I joked that the texture was a bit like curried baby food.

But the flavour was sensational, with some of the best spices I’ve eaten for a long time leaving a vibrant impression in the mouth.

The pilau rice was beautiful, with no daft colours in evidence, just lovely flavours.

The roghuni nan, like a thilli nan with sesame seeds on top, was also fantastic.

Janet is mainly vegetarian and asked for a vegetable balti as the menu choices were mostly side dishes.

She was well pleased with what she got for £5.50.

We couldn’t face pudding but I had a desi tea. Janet opted for pink Kashmiri tea (£1.50) but wasn’t too sold.

I looked it up online. They use special tea (you can use green) and baking soda turns it red, then adding milk makes it pink. It takes 15 minutes to brew, infused with ground almonds and cardamom.

We were very well fed and looked after for £35.70.

Arooj, 286 Attercliffe Road. Tel 0114 275 7786.

Open seven days, 5pm to midnight.