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Asha's brimful of class.

VINDALOO: fodder for late-night drunks whose tastebuds have been shot to pieces by too many pints of lager; a test for lairy lads determined to prove what they perceive to be a macho tolerance to vicious spicing. Which is a shame because a proper vindaloo - a fusion dish dating back to the time of Portugal's presence in Goa - is a thing of great elegance.

Here at Asha's, cooked with lamb rather than pork, it was a wonderful thing.

The meat was tender, flavoursome and retained its moisture - not a given, even in a stew, because temperature and timing have to be carefully controlled if it isn't to dry out.

But the crowning glory was the glossy, dark, rich gravy - onion-sweet, but undercut by a tang of vinegar, that essential component of any vindaloo.

Yes, there was a whack of chilli that caused beads of perspiration to appear on my reddened pate, but this was no crude heat for there were also layers of sweet, aromatic spices that played on my palate.

A few spuds in the sauce added comforting stodge.

That so much was left uneaten indicates only that I am a bloke with a small appetite and that Asha's is a restaurant that serves extremely generous portions.

The rice that came as a side was fragrant and each grain separate. A naan was suitably fluffy.

My wife's prawn curry with a rich tomato and coconut sauce also drew praise, as did my son Ewan's chandni chowk ka kheema - a spicy minced lamb dish.

The standard of these main curses should have come as no surprise for the starters were very good.

The fish amritsari that I ordered was among the most enjoyable Indian starters I've had for a long time.

Little fritters of a white fish - I won't try to hazard a guess to the species, but I imagine something from the cod family - came in batter that was exemplary in its lightness and crispness and was delicately spiced. If the sub-continent has the equivalent of fairground food, this was it: savory, irresistible.

Ewan's mushroom starter and Lynn's aloo tikki didn't seem to hit quite the same heights as my appetiser, but were enjoyed well enough.

We also ate poppadums, which were crisp and varied, and dips, which were excellent.

Service was at times a little distracted and seemingly confused, but was never anything less than friendly and we endured no particularly long delays.

And that was an achievement, for the place was doing a roaring trade on Monday evening.

It's a pleasant place to sit - the decor and lay-out ensuring a sort of cosy, warming vibe. There's a good cocktail list to add a further note of sophistication.

All of which makes Asha's among the best curry houses in Birmingham, a city with no shortage of gems.

''It's a pleasant place to sit, with a cosy, warming vibe

CAPTION(S):

Asha's is among the very finest curry houses in Birmingham.

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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Dec 27, 2013
Words:492
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