Delhi House Cafe

Ian Jones, Food and Drink Editor
Delhi House Cafe

Delhi House Cafe has always impressed, ever since it opened back in those hazy, crazy lockdown days of 2020. It’s easily the best-looking restaurant space in the Corn Exchange, and this laid-back, elegant venue is reassuringly busy, even in the afternoon. Why? Atmosphere aside, this is where to head for Manchester’s innovative Indian food. 

They’ve just launched a new menu packed with original ideas, using Delhi cuisine as a starting point. Of course, many of the favourites remain – it wouldn’t be Delhi House Cafe if the fast-becoming-legendary mom’s buttered chicken tikka masala wasn’t on the menu.

But first, starters. From the all-veggie chaat section, the spicy lotus stem bhel is packed with astonishingly powerful flavours – heavy on the tamarind, peanut and tomato chutney – that coat the layers of crispy lotus root. If you like to hammer your tastebuds with bold, expertly matched spices, this remarkable dish is the one. 

Also from the chaat menu, the much-loved dahi poori: delicate wheat puff balls, packed with potato, chickpea, tamarind, mint and yoghurt. Word of warning: you need to put the whole thing in your mouth to let the flavours explode there (and not on your shirt). It’s a phenomenal combination of flavours and textures, sweet and spicy, crunchy and gooey.

Dive into the tandoor, and grab some Afghani chicken tikka. These are thick, roughly chopped chunks of hot, soft chicken breast, marinaded in a yoghurt-based garlic sauce, before being roasted in a clay oven. It’s rather different from other items on the menu, stepping away from Northern India to use a gentler array of spices, but the result is no less moreish. 

The Achari paneer tikka is another new tandoori starter, and this is as hot and fiery as they come, heavy on the red chilli and a perfect counterpart for the Afghani chicken. 

An absolute must-try from the starter section is the outrageously titled ‘monster chicken lollipop’. It’s no misnomer, this is a beast of a chicken leg coated in an unforgiving Indo-Chinese sauce. The skin is crunchy, the meat is juicy and that coating is an intoxicating blend of sweet and sour. In a menu packed with highlights, this may well be the standout meat dish. 

As for mains, it wouldn’t be a visit to Delhi House Cafe without trying the aforementioned mom’s buttered chicken tikka masala (henceforth known as MBCTM). During our visit, pretty much half our fellow diners are tucking into this silky, beautifully spiced dish. If you like creamy curries and, for some crazy reason, you’ve not tried it yet, put it on your 2024 bucket list. 

But it’s not all rich sauces and out-there spice combinations. The pan-seared lemon fish is a pleasant contrast to the technicolour bombast of the other dishes, giving your palate a gentler aromatic experience. The fish is pan-seared and seasoned with spices that make a satisfying match for the zingy lemon sauce and herb-packed basmati rice. 

With remarkable restraint, we go for a single dessert, the gaijar halwa, rabri and nutella tart – basically, a spiced carrot pudding made with nutty chocolate sauce and luxurious condensed milk. Akin to a South-Asian treacle pudding, this delicate dish is an ideal end to a memorable meal, winding down the vivid flavours and delivering something comforting and as cleverly put together. 

Delhi House Cafe is a delight on every possible level. The ingredients are as fresh as the chef’s ideas, and the restaurant itself is as welcoming as it is grand. When it comes to Indian food in Manchester, this is one of the greats.

Corn Exchange, Exchange SquareManchesterM4 3TR View map
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Opening Hours

  • Monday12:00pm - 9:30pm
  • Tuesday12:00pm - 9:30pm
  • Wednesday12:00pm - 9:30pm
  • Thursday12:00pm - 9:30pm
  • Friday12:00pm - 10:00pm
  • Saturday12:00pm - 10:00pm
  • Sunday12:00pm - 9:30pm

Always double check opening hours with the venue before making a special visit.

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