I just returned from a business trip to Manchester, UK. In past years I've been fortunate to do my best to eat my way through London and Manchester's better curry houses along with the two Michelin star Vineet Bhatia which some consider the most imaginative Indian restaurant in the world.
I found a restaurant in Manchester, Akbar's, ( http://www.akbars.co.uk/Downloads/Akb... ) which I liked so much I went three nights in a row including two for business. Whether Indian, Pakistani or Balti it is the best curry as well as the best Indian I have ever had along with lamb chops that I would rank as a signature dish in even, say, Komi. Several curries ( chicken and chili Balti and bindi and tomato Balti) were absolutely incendiary! But flavorfully incendiary, just layers of flavor within the heat-whole inch and a half long peppers were cooked into this, by the way. I have never had anything like this in the U. S.-certainly there is nothing here that even approaches this. Not Rasika, not the Oval Room, Hertiage India or anywhere else I've been. Akbar's was superb for more than just the curries, however: incredible 18" hanging, puffy Nan oozing slivers of garlic (the nan was "impaled" on a metal hook as the centerpiece of the table), King Prawn Tikka that found the prawns coated and marinated in coriander and spice then charcoal grilled as well as a kind of Indian "chicken enchilada" covered with melted cheese and a tomato based spice and coriander sauce, "chicken Nambali." I should also note that Balti curries are served in eight or nine inch black cast iron skillets still hot from the flame.
Akbar's is considered by many to be Manchester's best "Indian" style restaurant along with one of the absolute best in the U. K. It is considered by everyone to be the best Balti restaurant in all of the U. K. They are also certainly not immodest: on their home page they note "probably the best Indian restaurant in the North of England." Does anyone know of any restaurant in the Baltimore Washington area that serves Balti curries?
My guess is that even if I find this style here it won't approach Akbar's. Still, I want to try. I haven't eaten at the same restaurant three nights in a row in over 20 years! This was so good that I would go back tonight if I was still there!
A bit of information about Balti food: http://recipes.chef2chef.net/recipe-a...