Experienced north west restaurateur Jaf Siddiqi has promised his latest venture, premium Indian restaurant Malai, will help bring back the authenticity of the famous 'Curry Mile' area of south Manchester.
Siddiqi, who worked as operations director for the expanding Viva Brazil chain until earlier this year, has acquired a 120-cover site on Wilmslow Road in the sought-after Rusholme area of Manchester.
"I was always keen to go on my own but I only wanted to do that when I was 100 per cent certain I had learned what I needed to know," Siddiqi told BigHospitality.
The businessman has formed the company with the help of one other private investor and said he was hoping to improve the reputation of the area which he argued had dipped since it was coined the 'Curry Mile'.
"I really want to go to town on it and make it Manchester's premium Indian dining restaurant." Mains are expected to cost from £8-24 and will be cooked in a kitchen with an open pass containing a show grill with some dishes finished by chefs on table-side BBQs.
"I am personally so frustrated by the lack of quality in Indian restaurants in the UK and the way that things are done in a non-traditional way - the food and the cooking methods. It is difficult to do in a commercial kitchen but there are different ways of doing it," he said.
Malai is named after the south Asian term for a type of clotted cream which was traditionally an ingredient in Maharaja dishes eaten by dignitaries and those who could afford the expensive product.
Siddiqi revealed his father had helped with the development of the dishes to make sure the offering is as traditional as possible.
There will be no use of one base sauce and both Biryani and Nihari will be on the menu but cooked over a longer period meaning the latter will only be available on certain days of the week.
Although no longer involved in the day-to-day business at Viva Brazil, the opening of Malai will not be Siddiqi's only concern as the restaurateur works on other projects in the pipeline and begins to lay out expansion plans for his latest concept.
"It is not going to be the only restaurant; it is going to be the first of what I hope to be many with the launching of a brand. I want to start it on the original 'Curry Mile' because it used to synonymous with great food and great service but now it is flashy lights and bad service."
Manchester city centre and Liverpool are being investigated as possible locations with a view to opening new sites by the end of next year after Malai launches in mid-October.