Possibly my biggest failing when having an Indian meal out is to skip the starter. I enjoy the popadoms and then go straight into the main course but, one rainy night in November, we decided to let Iqbal, the owner of The Sanam Restaurant on King Street in Alfreton, present us with the full works. The upshot of it all was that I am missing out big time on some deliciously tasty food. Mind you, I would have to say that it is a long time since I ate so much. The Sanam have long held their fine reputation, well, they have been there for 24 years and in that time have built up a very loyal clientele who enjoy quality food.
Cooking in a traditional Bangladeshi way has always been the ethos at the Sanam which they haven’t wavered from. Over this period of time they have seen restaurants come and go, some change hands, and they have also weathered two recessions to boot. Their philosophy of providing quality food at a fair price has stood the test of time and they are immensely proud of their track record. In his early years the chef worked at a top Indian restaurant in Derby and was trained in the art of blending spices by a leading international chef, this explains the extensive and mouthwatering menu on offer at the Sanam. Whilst enjoying our popadoms and pints of Mongoose, we discused lifes intrigues.
So, onto our meal. We were presented with four starters between three of us! That was a great start. The Chicken Pakora is marinated in a special blend of spices which secret the chef keeps close to his chest. Suffice to say one of our group would have finished the dish if we hadn’t got in there. The next dishes were Shashli Kebab and Achari Chicken ; my personal favourite as the chicken is so tender. At this point one of our crew said ‘I’m stuffed’ and so had another Mongoose to help things along!
The main courses included Chicken Balti, Karahi Lamb, Amrit Sari (a fish curry) and Aloo Chana (chickpeas and potato). These were accompanied by special fried rice, which has completely moved me away from Pillau as it is so tasty and varied. We happily tucked into it all with relish.
I love naan bread with my meal and I have to say most restaurants disappoint in this area but the Sanam shines with naans freshly made and baked in a traditional charcoal oven using fresh crushed garlic. As they serve your main courses the naan goes into the charcoal oven where they take two minutes to cook and arrive piping hot. The peshwari naan is a particular favourite.
As we sat dining, the take-aways were flying out and I have to say these take away portions are very generous which is why they are so popular.
There’s everything on the menu you’d expect, but stray onto the ‘chef’s specials’ section if you fancy something a little more exciting that will really excite your taste buds. The sauces at the Sanam are rich in flavour and there’s plenty of substance to them. All their chefs work to the same recipe which ensures consistency of flavour, we all have our favourites and like them to taste the same every time. We are creatures of habit!
It is true that you get what you pay for where food is concerned and the Sanam has that fine balance of quality food at a very reasonable price.