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 Restaurant Review

Madhuban Tandoori Restaurant

94, Station Road, Liss, Hampshire. GU33 7AQ

01730 893363

Thursday 9th December, 2010

Liss is a small village and the Madhuban has been feeding locals, and customers from afar, for over 20 years. The restaurant underwent a major refurbishment several years ago and it still looks good. Cream walls and carpet, wooden dining tables, no cloths but runners, brown leather place mats, monogrammed china, Schott Zwiesel stemware and suede upholstered chairs, make for a light, natural and comfortable looking restaurant.

Organza curtains, swathe the plate glass frontage and the windows. Ceilings are decorated with, almost futuristic, glass light fittings. The walls are punctuated with intricately carved, wooden statutes, imported from a small town just out side Delhi. And a doomed, marble water feature has come from Jaipur. These original touches give the feel of authenticity, mixed with modern and contemporary.

The Madhuban is a family owned and run business. Lodue and his younger brother, Bedar are always there to greet. You will meet one or both of them behind the impressive circular, marble topped bar. Bedar never forgets a face, nor a name and you need to witness him on the calculator to believe the speed.

We were dining early, so able to chose our table. Our waiter gave us a menu each, even though we knew exactly what we were going to order. For me it never changes, but Pat has two dishes he particularly likes, it is just a matter of deciding which one he feels like eating on the night.

While hurriedly eating two warm, crispy, 'Plain Popadums 50p - the celebrated thin deep-fried lentil crisp,' with, 'The Chutney Tray 50p per person - a selection of mango chutney, onion salad, chilli and lime pickles,' I eagerly awaited my, 'Onion Bhajia £2.95 - spiced lentil-flour combined with onion slices, shaped into two huge balls then deep-fried, fritter-style, served with salad.' Our waiter also brought to us an extra pot of, 'Mint Raitha,' and unlike other restaurants, these were not whipped away as soon as possible, but left on the table, to be enjoyed with the starters.

A sizzling plate arrived with two very large and very light, crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside, spheres, along with Pat's, 'Sheek Kebabs £3.75 - lamb ground with garlic, ginger, lentils, mint and spices, skewered and cooked in the tandoor.' A generous bowl of salad, with finely sliced lettuce, cucumber, tomato and lemon segments, (all wrapped up in those special metal squeezers) are served with most starters. Pat and I were offered the sizzling onions that accompanied the kebabs, but we refused them. Our starter portions were already quite considerable and we knew what was coming for mains.

Other tasty starters include: 'Haryali Murgh Chaat £3.75 - a salad of garlicky chicken tikka, tomato and onions, tossed in a fragrant, spicy mint dressing,' and 'Jingha Ananash £5.95 - king prawns briskly stir-fried on a light curry sauce, flavoured with pineapple chunks, served in a half a pineapple shell,' and, 'Mini Naan £1.15 - a half-size baby naan which just hits the spot!'

There are eighteen popular main course dishes, nineteen, 'specials,' and this doesn't include the shellfish, vegetable, rice dishes or any variations. Nor does it include the Thalis! So, there is quite a choice, something for everyone! My bench mark dish is, 'Chicken Dhansak £8.25 - cooked with dall, fenugreek leaves and lemon to make a savoury, sweet and sour, hottish dish. Served with rice.' I asked the waiter to make sure it was nice and chilli hot and it was! Chunks of chicken breast in a thick sauce, just the way a restaurant-style Dhansak should be. Pat decided on, 'Palak Gosht £6.10 - a savoury Punjabi meat or chicken dish with young spinach leaves also called Sag,' with a side of, 'Tarka Dall £3.10 - a tasty, spicy dish, with an assortment of lentils, with the Tarka (crispy, fried onion and garlic) added as a garnish.' Don't know why he always orders this, he can and always does sneak a good spoonfull or two of my Dhansak sauce! Just as our waiter thought we had finished, Pat added a, 'Aloo Paratha £2.25 - stuffed with mashed potato.' Our waiter asked Pat if he would like the heat level of his dishes boosted with slices of fresh green chilli and of course, he didn't refuse! The bread, was nicely filled and not at all greasy. I cut it into quarters, so we could dip into our sauces.

Tempting mains include: ‘Karabi Chicken £8.50 - a Moghul speciality from Dhaka. Chicken on the bone for maximum flavour, cooked with capsicum, tomatoes, chilli and garnished with pawpaw,’ and, ‘Nihari Lamb Shank £8.50 - from the royal Nawaabs of Lucknow. The lamb shank (knuckle) is marinated, then oven-baked until it is tender. Its own marinade forms its sauce. You just have to eat it with your fingers.’

Madhuban's head chef is very salt conscience, so you may have to adjust your dishes a little, as we did. But as the saying goes,"you can put it in, but you can't take it out!" Portions are generous, so do ask for your leftovers to be packed up for lunch the following day.

Hours: Lunch and Dinner daily.

Facilities: On Street Parking, Disabled Access, Takeaway: 10% discount.

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Madhuban Tandoori Restaurant and Takeaway

94, Station Road, Liss, Hampshire. GU33 7AQ

01730 893363

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