The Mercury gets the full Shalimar experience in light of its recent Tripadvisor rating...

Ali Mamood proprietor of the Shalimar at Darley Dale with his chefs Liaquat Zaman and Shree Gopal and manager Liaquat Ali
Ali Mamood proprietor of the Shalimar at Darley Dale with his chefs Liaquat Zaman and Shree Gopal and manager Liaquat Ali
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Flames rise from the pan as head chef Kahn Zaman effortlessly cooks another mouth watering morsel of Indian cuisine.

The Shalimar owner Ali Mahmood proudly shows me around the kitchen of his Darley Dale restaurant – a kitchen which helped the business win a five star rating from environmental health inspectors earlier this year.

“Customers are free to see the kitchen if they want to,” Ali tells me.

“We often have people asking to come back here and we’re happy to oblige.”

The soft naan breads, which my husband and I have just enjoyed in the restaurant, are made by hand on the premises and then cooked in a traditional clay oven.

Upon arriving at The Shalimar, which was recently named the fifth most popular Indian restaurant in the UK on review site Tripadvisor, we were greeted at the door by friendly staff who took our coats before showing us to our seats.

Head waiter, Shakoor Ahmed is more than happy to explain what different items are on the menu and how they are cooked.

After deliberating for a few minutes, I decide to go for the house specialities as recommended to me by owner Ali – tandoori chicken to start, followed by lamb aschari.

Shakoor clearly wants to make sure we have the best dining experience possible and when I order the special naan, he warns me that it contains chillies and asks if that is okay.

He also thoughtfully brings out a sample of both the sauces we have ordered for our mains, just to make sure we’re happy with them.

When my tandoori chicken arrives it is a rich red colour. It is succulent on the inside and beautifully singed and crisp on the outside.

The waiter continues to be attentive, checking to make sure we are enjoying my meal.

When my main arrives it is a sizzling bowl of aromatic spices mixed into a thick sauce. With every mouthful I get a burst of mixture of ginger, cumin seeds, cinnamon and methi that go to make the sauce.

Without being too fatty, the lamb is so tender it tears apart with my fork.