90 High Street,
Manchester M4 1ES
Rice and three curries: £4.70
The Northern Quarter's many rice-n-three-curries dives (and they are always dives, even if they get swanky new signage like Al-Faisal did) are famous throughout Manchester. Shoppers, workers, mosque-goers, travellers, all pass through cafes of seemingly identikit functional uniformity in order to get a plate piled with boiled, fried or pilau rice (depending) and whatever curries are available on that day for under a fiver. These places vary in quality and specialise in different areas. One constant, however, is Yadgar's supremacy on the curry front.
Even before you consider Yadgar's superior saag aloo or use of lamb that isn't 90% fat and gristle, it already has a couple of distinct advantages on the other rice-n-threes. Rather than being located down a safety-defying back-alley (I'm looking at you, Cafe Marhaba), or on a corner that seems to sneak up on me every time (hey there, Kabana), it is right on High Street, is easily visible, and doesn't require a map or excellent memory to find. Secondly, it doesn't look too bad on the inside - it's bright, it's clean, and the water jugs on the tables are kept filled. I'm a sucker for an obvious location and attention to detail, so Yadgar is ahead in my books before I've even sat down.
Onto the food. The rice - boiled or fried basmati - is nothing special. The curries, however, are. The saag aloo, in particular, is incredible. The saag is steeped in flavour, definitely plenty of garam masala and chilli, but also perhaps some lemon and coriander, too. The lamb curry was a spicy sauce (lots of chillies again, but no overpoweringly so) with chunks of good-quality, tender, and flavour-packed lamb. The daal was the least interesting, as it was a yellow-lentil concoction with more heat than flavour, but it was passable and bulked out the meal somewhat. The portions could be more generous, but you get a large ladle-full of each curry, and the rice is the perfect amount for this. You won't be left with any dry rice at the end, but you also won't be left with any stray pools of curry sauce. Searching for good quality meal that will keep you going even through post-Christmas sales shopping? Go to Yadgar.