After World War Two there were 528 principalities on the Indian subcontinent, each with its own Nawaab, or viceroy, ruling in place of the Emperor.
The Nawaabs enjoyed a lavish lifestyle and were patrons of the arts, architecture, martial arts, horsemanship, gardens and flowers, poetry and, last but not least, food and wine. All of this they did in luxurious surroundings.
Huddersfield has had a Nawaab for 22 years and it is indeed in an opulent setting.
The 100-cover Indian restaurant is located in the fine Georgian building at 35 Westgate, formerly Martins, then Barclay's, Bank. Enter the understated entrance and glass chandeliers, marble-effect pillars, golden swags and gleaming metal furnishings set against a tasteful cream background greet the eye.
Nawaab’s claim to fame is that its sister restaurant in Tong, Bradford, once supplied the food at a charity banquet for 600. It was taken by lorry to London’s Dorchester Hotel, where guests included Princess Diana, organiser Imran Khan and Ian Botham.
Back in Huddersfield, the review was a far more low key and unannounced affair. The three of us decided to give the bar area a miss – despite it looking rather comfortable with leather studded sofas – and head straight for the dining area.
My 21-year-old nephew, Hugo, is six ft two ins with an apparently hollow body which requires infusions of industrial quantities of food at regular intervals. His girlfriend, Riva, is no slouch at the dining table either; it must be their age.
Given the severe limitations of the review budget, I might have been a tad nervous at the prospect of the forthcoming bill for the mountain of food we were about to consume, had I not had the comforting feel of the 25% discount voucher, cut from that day’s Examiner, in my pocket. (We were given another discount card as we paid the bill.)
It took us some time to visually digest the vast menu. Counting all the variations of the classics, there were well over 100.
After the poppadoms and pickle tray, we ordered starters, and two out of the three were excellent. The mixed kebab (£3.95) was a disappointment, as the chicken and seekh kebabs were a little dry without any distinct flavour permeating through, other than heat. They could have been partially rescued with lemon and yoghurt.
The shami kebab, on the other hand was a soft lamb patty with a rather plain, meaty taste.
However, my tandoori chicken tikka (£3.45) – as sampled by Lady Di – was a mouthwatering delight fit for a princess. Tender and succulent, the large pieces of chicken breast sliced like butter and were coated with just the right amount of tandoori spices.
Hugo loved his full-bodied and giant portion of chicken bhuna on puri (unleaven wheat pancake), which represented excellent value for money at £3.95.
Other starters included the usual offerings, along with the Nawaabi Mix, a sizzling mixed grill, and several blackboard specials. The waiter, although pleasant, failed to point these out and it wasn’t until after we’d ordered that we noticed them.
The main courses arrived in generous portions, which two people with normal appetites could have shared, and were accompanied by side orders of thick Peshwari naan, pilau rice and two vegetables. Of these the spinach, requested with not too much ghee (a butterfat used widely in Indian cooking) was the best; nicely seasoned with a depth of flavour, although the tarka dal (lentils) ran it a close second.
The boneless achari lamb (£7.50) was again a meaty affair, a dish which relies on the lamb, rather than the sauce, for flavour, We’d asked for it hot, but ‘medium’ would have been a more accurate description. The shah korma (£7.50) had fewer pieces of chicken, but copious quantities of a mild, creamy sauce with ground almonds which we all enjoyed.
VERDICT: A Huddersfield staple.
35 Westgate, Huddersfield, HD1 1NY
Tel: 01484 422775.
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 5pm to 11pm, Friday and Saturday 5pm to midnight, Sunday 4pm to 10pm.
Disabled Access: Sorry, no
The bill: £37.05 for three with Examiner 25% off voucher
Would you go back? Yes, look for discount vouchers.