Thursday, 1 March 2012
Sekander, Allerton Rd, Liverpool
My relationship with Sekander has been a tempestuous one. From its humble beginnings in the late nineties as just a takeaway, the food was exceptional. Succulent samosas, fiery vindaloos and halal kebabs for the carnivores, Sekander filled a gap in the South Liverpool Indian restaurant market when it expanded and became a restaurant as well as a takeaway. The decor is refreshingly modern- not a sticky Axminster carpet in sight but thankfully doesn't have that impersonal Ikea-sponsored winebar feel either. Its BYOB policy won many a customer's heart and for the teetotals amongst us, its potent coffee was freshly brewed and not out of a jar labelled Maxwell House like some of its Indian neighbours. The mango lassi bursts with flavour too, the perfect antidote to a gut wrenching vindaloo.
Sekander is open daily, but on Sunday they offer a buffet for a tenner, which quite frankly is atrocious. Starters aside, the main courses consist of all the dishes that they find hard to flog like Chicken Korma and fish curry. Every single dish tastes inexplicably like a mixture of raw chicken and the stench of fish. Prepare for some ensuing Imodium moments...
The main menu is a riot of colour, just like the funky restaurant itself, however the quality of the curries is inconsistent. Sekander seems to go through a cycle of peaks and troughs but if you go right this minute, it is experiencing a peak; the perfect opportunity for some pics for the blog! Sometimes, the curries consist of a watery gravy and no substance, the starters being the real star of the show. Starters are generously proportioned but can sometimes spoil the appetite rather than whet it- not that I'm complaining. They will kindly give you a doggy bag should your stomach not be up for the challenge. Mainstays like Samosas and Bhajis are present and correct but are homemade unlike some curry houses, and thought is given to their presentation rather than adorning it with a few limp lettuce leaves. My favourite starter is the Vegetable Dosa, a dish set to trend in the UK in 2012.
My Dubai curry fiends are well-versed on Dosas as they're a really popular dish in this neck of the woods, but do my British chums know what one is? It's a pancake, South Indian in origin and is served with curry. In Dubai, dal is a popular accompaniment but as we can see on this pic, Sekander have stuffed their dosa with a zingy okra, aubergine and potato mix in a piquant sauce- delicious!
Veggie main course perfection can be achieved by the Vindaloo (top pic) or with the Vegetable Dhansak. Dhansaks are my alternative when I have had too much of a spice kick. A 'pimped' version of Dal you could describe it as. Dhansak is more popular in the UK than Dal dishes and in Sekander, they throw in some ginger, lashings of lemon juice and top it off with a pineapple ring to give it that sweet and sour taste. I find Dal quite a boring dish but love lentils, so this is the perfect alternative as Sekander throws in a few okra and potatoes to give it a bit of variation.
A visit to Sekander isn't complete without checking out its dessert menu. They have standard Indian desserts like Matka Kulfi, Pistachio Kulfi and that ubiquitous hollowed-out orange skin with the ice cream inside. Perfect for cooling down after a night on the spice!