Written by WILL MARTIN
Archana – meaning love and devotion – is a Balti house first and foremost, and has been so since 1985.
Having supplied the Northern Irish capital with mouth-watering fare since its early days, this quaint curry house works hard to get the basics right. It all starts with the marinade, with all spices and herbs sourced locally from around Belfast.
Then comes the curry: from basic chicken pakora – an inner fillet of Irish chicken breast battered in gram flour and deep-fried – to the tangy and spicy achari,which infuses lime pickles and mango chutney into a warm tomato-based sauce. In every dish the taste of the Irish downs are tucked under its Balti collarbone.
Naturally, this gem has its regular patrons, some of whom have found dishes named after them on the menu. So try ‘Turlough’s secret karahi’, a fresh leg of lamb slow-cooked in a thick medium sauce, with fresh onions, tomatoes and peppers – put on the menu, apparently, at the insistence of one loyal customer. Another one – ‘Tom’s veg feast’ – is a classic North Indian dish, with rajma (kidney beans) cooked in a tomato sauce with spices and served with boiled rice. We recommend a side of alu gobi with this one.
Also try the rober dober achari. Only cooked by a special few, this dish is made using fresh leg of lamb and homemade achari sauce.
For more Belfast restaurants, check out Good Things magazine’s Best Belfast restaurants.