Restaurant review: Sheesh Mahal, Kirkstall Road, Leeds

PICS: Bruce RollinsonPICS: Bruce Rollinson
PICS: Bruce Rollinson
There was a time a few years ago when Azram Chaudhry, owner of Sheesh Mahal, considered giving it all up.

Post Boxing Day floods in 2015 and with the business in ruins, he had what can only be described a momentary loss of faith. That he opted to continue, to soldier on and rebuild what is arguably one of the most popular curry houses in Kirkstall, if not Leeds, is nothing short of a blessing to us all.

Step inside Sheesh Mahal today and there’s no sign of the damage which was wrought by that disaster. Slick black tables, chairs and walls add a touch of upmarket swagger, while fiery orange light wells in the ceiling match the logos on the menu cards. We’re made to feel welcome from the off, Azram greeting us at the door and engaging us in conversation before leading us to a table. There are bigger, flashier curr houses and while it may not be the most opulent, it has a sense of self which is reassuring. Indeed, I know people who regularly drive from Scholes to “go to the pictures”, after which they will call in at Sheesh Mahal (the pictures thing is just an excuse for them to go have a curry).

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We begin with popadoms and the obligatory pickle tray (£1 and £2.50, respectively), followed by dall soup (£2.90), a favourite of my partner, a palak fish roll (£3.90), which is light and fragrant and a paneer pakora (£3.50), mildly spicy, slightly salty and the kind of snack you wish you could rustle up at home in front of the tele.

These are followed by fish balti (£9.50), a worthy curry packed with layers of flavour and just spicy enough make you want more. There is also something called the Grand Slam Karahi (£11.90), which I was immediately drawn to from the menu and my choice proves to be a good one. So, here we have one of Sheesh Mahal’s standout dishes, in which you get marinated chicken breast, non-marinated chicken breast, the curiously nondescript ‘meat’, prawns, mince and veg, all cooked with black peppers, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, capsicums and fresh coriander. It’s a wonderful blend of flavours which on the face of it could be a complete disaster but here they all seem to marry nicely, underpinned by a wonderfully floral spiciness which somehow makes each mouthful a new experience.

We also ordered a mild chicken korma (£7.90), together with garlic peshwari naan (£2.90), pileau rice (£2.50) and chips (£1.90) - with drinks, including cokes, tonic and a wonderfully refreshing and quite robust Bombay IPA (£3.50), this took the bill to a very reasonable £61.70.

We didn’t bother with desserts (which are in any case a little generic) - we were too full, so much so we even took what was left on the table home. Fantastic stuff.


Sheesh Mahal, Kirkstall Road, Leeds


Food: 8/10

Value: 9/10

Atmosphere: 8/10

Service: 9/10