REVIEW: Emperor of curries gets a new look

Nitasha Sharma at The Mogul Room, Sharrow Vale Road
Nitasha Sharma at The Mogul Room, Sharrow Vale Road

They were the largest prawns I’d ever seen - truly gigantic, each as big as a baby’s fist.

The super-size seafood in a fiery Jhal Jhinga, which it turns out are sourced from a specialist Bengali market, sum up The Mogul Room in a phrase - they don’t do things by halves.

This is a restaurant where, instead of having one head chef, there’s one focusing on rice, on Tandoori , on curries...

“It’s so the pressure on each chef is not too much- they each excel in their own area”, said manager Nitasha Sharma.

Now I must lay my cards on the table as at The Mogul Room, there is a history.

It was the venue for a first truly good curry after crossing the border from west to south Yorkshire a decade ago.

I know what good Indian food is like or I wouldn’t eat it

When living in S3, cross-city trips would be made to Sharrow Vale Road just to pick up a Mumbai korma. Now we live dangerously close to temptation.

However the urge to feast had been resisted since the restaurant underwent a revamp around Christmas.

It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but inside has been transformed from dark to bright, with pops of orange on the walls and winsome Indian-themed artwork.

Everything is neater, right down to the fresh-looking menus.

Chicken Jalfrezi curry at The Mogul Room

Chicken Jalfrezi curry at The Mogul Room

Nitasha said: “We wanted to have a modern Indian feel - we changed the paintings and the colours to give it that look and make it lighter.”

There are a couple of more modern items on the menu too - including a flamboyant brandy chicken set alight at the table - but no dish has been axed at their expense.

Our host Nitasha - a former Bollywood actress, model and dental student before she left Delhi - joked that she was ‘polishing glasses instead of teeth.’

She added: “This place has been open since 1993 so we have very loyal customers who have been coming for years and know what they like, so we kept those dishes, definitely.

“People love the new Hennessy Chicken also because it is a bit of a show.

“Most Indian restaurants give the feeling that India has very fatty or spicy food but here we say that every dish can be done as per the liking of the customer, they just have to say.

“We are very focused on the quality of our takeaway and that is why some people come in for it every day.

“I was born and bred in India, I eat curry every day, so I know what good Indian food is like or I wouldn’t eat it!”

There are a few things to point out about the Mogul. One, it isn’t a particularly cheap curry house.

A few prices have gone up slightly, the Jhal Jinga was £12.95 and most mains hover around the tenner mark.

If you prefer less exotic dishes, they say a takeaway for two will cost about £16.

However the quality is excellent, there’s plenty of substance to the sauces, and as with all things in life you get what you pay for.

Service is friendly and attentive - you won’t find restaurant staff more willing to go the extra mile, or the extra five minutes to deliver a takeway during snow if you are lazy like us.

But the 15 tables are often full, and it took us more than an hour to get to the main course last Thursday.

In the future possible further changes could include separate kitchens for takeaway and restaurant to speed up the process.

The place was buzzing when we dropped in - a riot of colour, smells and music with a post-pub crowd.

We started with crispy hot poppadoms and six fine pickles - the sweet chilli type in particular was delicious.

Diners who check in on Facebook get these for free. Alas we found that out too late.

I was disproportionately thrilled when the waitress asked if we wanted to keep our unfinished pickle tray. Too often they are snatched away.

My starter was one of the new items- Singapore hot wings. They were served on a dramatic metal skewer, dangling above a colourful salad, and had to be coaxed off with a fork. The well-cooked meat was coated in a tangy, finger-licking sauce that set the lips aflame.

His lamb tikka starter was served in exactly the same way, as cubes of intensely marinated meat that was succulent and broke apart at the touch of a fork.

Next up was those prawns - coiled and firm and meaty, a sweet relief from the chilli-laced sauce. There were hefty doses of fenugreek and coriander among the potatoes, caramelised onions and tomatoes.

He had gone for the emperor’s special biryani.

It cost £12.45 but could easily by shared by two or even three people - including lamb and chicken tikka, strips of tandoori chicken and chopped Thai prawns nestled under a bed of egg, vegetables and rice.

It came with a truly stupendous and delicate tarka dhal - creamy lentils cooked with aromatic cardomom. Apparently the secret is to use both green and yellow lentils.

A soft, garlic-soaked naan and rice were of equal quality.

There are no desserts at the moment but a menu of traditional Indian puddings is under development.

We paid £59.25 including two rounds of drinks.

l The Mogul Room, Sharrow Vale Road.

Tel 0114 267 9846