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Lily's Indian Restaurant Reviewed

Ruth Allan swoons for the food in the unlikeliest of locations

Written by . Published on October 15th 2013.


Lily's Indian Restaurant Reviewed
 

Category: Indian casual dining/ cheap eats. Score 14/20 (Full breakdown below. Venues are compared with similar venues and measured against the best examples in their category.)

LILY'S is an unassuming Indian vegetarian café in Ashton. It looks like a simple diner, a locals-only type establishment. But there’s cooking going on here that puts much of the Curry Mile to shame.

The only other place that competes in this category is San Mini’s in Ramsbottom. But Lily’s steals ahead, thanks to its price point

The moment I realised Lily’s was for me was biting into the pea ‘kachori’; a type of ‘chaat’ or Indian street food that is wantonly moreish.

Light pastry conceals a crushed pea paste, which you dunk into a dip so vibrantly green and fresh Gwyneth Paltrow would want it for moisturiser. It’s a genie’s lamp of a dish; all flavour and perfume and umami. The sweet and savoury flavours come together as naturally as chips and ketchup.

It could have been any number of choices from the menu that did the trick. 

Lily's

 

                                              

Tucked into a booth and surrounded by dishes, the waiter tries to quell my passion.

“Go easy lady” he actually says at one point, but I want to try it all, especially the ‘chaat’ stuff. There are the pea and lentil kachoris (various prices), and a raj kachori (£3.75) which is the delicious thing, pictured at the top of the page, from Rajasthan, covered in savoury hundreds and thousands, tamarind relish and yoghurt and many more equally delicious morsels.

Seeing as I was doing things properly, I ordered a couple of South Indian specials too; idli sambar (£4, steamed rice cakes with a salty, soup curry and coconut chutney) and the waiter’s recommendation, Mysore masala dhosa (£5.50).

Idli are like a veggie take on the Chinese pork bun, kind of sweet and savoury at the same time (a bit of a theme), while the dhosas are alphabetical in their abundance. There’s masala dhosa, cheese masala dhosa, spring onion, just a dhosa - and more - each distinguished by varying chutneys, spices and heats.

Mains include tawa panner: a steaming, platter of spice, tomato, and panner, oozing across a tin foil base. The metallic heat gives the paneer a chance to melt, resulting in the kind of orgasmic pleasure I normally associate with toasted cheese. It performs well alongside more straightforward paneer, tomato and veg curries (all around £6).

In fact, Lily’s has that foodie buzzword – authenticity - by the balls. There’s a chef from Gujarat, one from Rajasthan, Mumbai and the deep south. Their work visas took two years to come through with owner, Prital Sachdev, headhunting his team by hand. The results are authentic Indian vegetarian dishes from across the country – a 'greatest hits' if you like - with a focus on chaat, sweets and damn near perfect pure veg tucker.

Lily's


The only other place that competes in this category is San Mini’s in Ramsbottom. But Lily’s steals ahead, thanks to its price point (the whole seven courses set us back under £35) and character.

Wonky posters and blue lights are the most memorable features. “It’s the kind of place you’d never just try,” my friend Laura says, gazing at the grannies and slouchy teens that fill the other booths. But Lily’s word-of-mouth success is set to grow if owner Prital Sachdev’s big plans work out.

The restaurant is part of his family’s supermarket business set up in the 1970s after his grandfather left Africa on the run from Idi Amin. “This used to be the fruit and veg section,” he says, of the current set up. And it soon will be again, if the plans for a new deli counter, bar, smoking area and restaurant work out. He’s planning to move Lily’s across the road into a large new space just in front of Ikea which will be open, he hopes, by Valentine’s Day.

Lily's


In the meantime, Lily’s is an excellent reason to try out the new tramline to Ashton.

The view is awful (or perhaps 'awfully industrial' would be more apt) but Laura tells me she’s never had Indian food like this - and I’ve not had much of it either, outside of India, or San Mini’s.

Selling soft drinks only, this is fresh, lively, authentic cooking at an exceptional price point. And here’s another tip: if you are heading over at lunch time, look out for the £3.99 thali.

Follow Ruth on Twitter @RuthAllan

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL. 

Lily’s Vegetarian Indian Cuisine, 75-83 Oldham Road, Ashton, OL6 7DF. Tel: 0161 339 4774

Rating: 14/20

Food: 8/10 (pea and lentil kachoris both 8, raj kachori 9, idli samhbar 7, mysore masala dhosa 9, curries: tawa 9, paneer 6, veg 7, pilau rice 9)
Service: 4/5
Ambience: 2/5

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing, 14-15 worth a trip, 16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away

Lily's

Lily's

Lily'sLily's

Lily'sLily's

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28 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousOctober 15th 2013.

All looks delish. Can't wait to go!

1 Response: Reply To This...
Argie MistryOctober 18th 2013.

try Mistry's vegetarian in Bolton

ShybaldbuddhistOctober 15th 2013.

I'll have to visit this place very soon.

moragOctober 15th 2013.

Great review, I love Lily's. Reminds me did the best veggie dining article ever appear? I can't seem to find it.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Argie MistryOctober 18th 2013.

you must try Mistry's Vegetarian in Bolton

AndrewOctober 15th 2013.

Not even a single carnivore option on the menu, boo, hiss, we are always over looked!!!

Cj ThompsonOctober 15th 2013.

Its my favourite eatery in Greater Manchester. Do go and try but be aware of the opening hours, not open on Tuesdays and only open until 8pm on other days. Dont don’t get there too late as it will now be even busier than usual thanks to this glowing review. Like the article says the setting isnt great but the food and the friendly staff more than makes up for it. They do good takeaways too.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Argie MistryOctober 18th 2013.

Have you tried Mistry's Vegetarian in Bolon

Bob CoolOctober 15th 2013.

A new vegan/veggie place has opened in Ladybarn called Sanskruti, went there the other week. Good value/quality, be interesting to see what a mancon review of the place would be.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Ben LeesonMarch 7th 2014.

I went here and whilst the food was nice they do not welcome children - as a party of 8, 2 being children we were told that children were not welcome!! Dont advertise that on their website...

AnonymousOctober 15th 2013.

I would recommend Lily's to anyone. And with the new tram link into Ashton, even more people can experience the lovely food and great atmosphere. Even though the restaurant could do with a bit of TLC, the staff with their warm welcome, more than makes up for it I would recommend anyone to visit here, and give your taste buds a new lease of life

SuzanneOctober 15th 2013.

Is it open Sunday afternoons? Have been looking for another authentic vegetarian Indian restaurant for a long time and hope this is it. There used to be a wonderful one on Charlotte St., in M/cr city centre many, many, moons ago.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Cj ThompsonOctober 15th 2013.

Yes, its open Sunday until 8pm. I'd ensure I got there no later than 6:30pm. Its my favourite restaurant for miles around but as described above you need to be aware the interior is basic, not fancy, BUT VERY clean. The food is what this place is all about. There is free parking right outside or free on street car parking within 30 secs or so walk. Also very close to Ashton bus station and the trams.

PritOctober 17th 2013.

Hi Suzanne, Lily's is open till 7:00pm on Sunday's and last orders are at 6:00pm. Prit.

Suzanne KnopfSeptember 5th 2014.

Suzanne, you are the first person (other than myself) who seems to remember the vegetarian Indian restaurant on Charlotte St. It was down some steps 'under' a building and my hubby and I went there so often, we were treated like family. Then we went to live abroad and lost touch; wonder what happened to them? If Lily's is as good, then it's great. Been meaning to go to visit for some time. Also a Suzanne!

FoodLover1October 15th 2013.

Can't believe I've only just heard of this place! Will have to give it a go soon. My current favourite Indian street food restaurant has to be the Indian Tiffin Room in Cheadle, also in Greater Manchester! Was also reviewed recently :) I guess this type of cuisine is finally getting the recognition it deserves.

AnonymousOctober 17th 2013.

LOVELY place!!! A must try

Argie MistryOctober 18th 2013.

You must try Mistry's Vegetarian in Bolton A fantastic choice and food at its best and all veggie

Argie MistryOctober 18th 2013.

fromallu chaat to masala dosa's or try a thali for the hungry diner with two choices of curry rice sauce a sweet dish a starter item roti's and popadums plenty to take away quality and tasty food at very reasonable prices a fantastic relaxing atmosphere

SimonOctober 18th 2013.

This (former - damn you Man Con) hidden gem cooks the best Indian food in Manchester. Perfect place for lunch, early dinner. The staff are very welcoming. The place itself is like a slightly tatty Burger Bar circa 1975 - all formica tables and plastic - but it is comfortable and, did I mention, the food is unbeatable?

RedflagwalksOctober 18th 2013.

oh dear.. Tamesiders were hoping to keep Lily's to ourselves , now its been in in Manchester Con, let's hope we don't get a flood of NQ-ites "roughing it" in AUL...

What has Gerald Kaufman ever done for mcr?October 18th 2013.

super :)

Naomi NieldOctober 19th 2013.

I found this little piece of heaven about a year ago. The food here is outstanding, comfort food at its finest and sweets to die for all produced by the very talented chefs on the premises. All the staff are warm and helpful and will take time to explain things to you. Don't just take my word for it try it yourself.

AnonymousFebruary 27th 2014.

Having lived here for almost three years after 13 years in London... it's heartening but also sad that people up here are still excited about 'quirky' cafes, 'street food', 'dirty burgers' etc.... Shame Manchester council charges extortionate rates in the centre otherwise I'm sure there would be loads of places like this in the centre rather than generic tapas, Italians, burger places appealing to the masses. Manchester also seriously needs an independent food court/market like what they have in Madrid and Stockholm.

JohnMarch 14th 2014.

We ate here on Sunday 9th March as a treat before the City FA cup game v Wigan. Staff were superb in helping us choose 3 starters , 3 mains, rice and naan breads. Superb selection and a range of tremendous tastes. The price came in at about £15 per head and we couldn't have eaten or wanted more. Many thanks to the friendly smiling staff for their guidance in working our way round an extensive menu. This is a venue we will be returning to. Trust City to ruin a perfect Sunday afternoon

Pedro1874March 27th 2014.

Thoroughly recommend the square, folded, Dhosas. They are even crispier than the rolled ones. Really great taste sensations in everything on the menu.

Eilish AinsworthApril 22nd 2014.

I go with my son a couple of times a year, it's great food and the sweets to take home are great, but one word of advice if you don't like your curry hot remember to tell them. the potatoes in batter for a starter are just great! The staff are really helpful and cheerful. there is no real post code for the place so best put the supermarket nextdoor in the satnav as there is one way streets either side. enjoy the experience it is well worth the trip.

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