Although we haven’t had the chance to visit Opheem in Birmingham, Aktar’s food and his philosophy had already intrigued us. His approach seems to follow the path that Andrew Wong walked through Chinese cuisine. Aktar’s recipes showcase the best the Indian gastronomy has to offer, giving special attention to those from Northern India. His knowledge of the ingredients, the mastery of the techniques and his willingness to take Indian cuisine to a different level is clearly represented in his dishes.
During the COVID pandemic, Opheem’s team pivoted to create curry boxes, Aktar at Home. Eight copious curries accompanied with naan, sheermal and a fragrant pulao. Not being able to visit Birmingham, the £70 meal box didn’t disappoint. Each dish delivered a fragrant, delicate balance of spices that we wish we could find more often in our favourite curry houses.
We felt that, similar to A. Wong, we were offered a small tour of India.
Mutton stew with a traditional korma (yoghurt, onion and tomato based sauce). Tender meat and bold flavours with the familiarity of korma.
Malabar fish curry
The curry leaves, tamarind and coconut milk make it refreshing and delicious. The cod fillets were left for us to cook on a pan. The only occasion where we were required to cook and not only reheat the dish.
Patha gobi subjee
Cabbage and carrot vegetable dish. Beautifully flavoured with Bengali spices.
Methi bhuna aloo
Perfectly cooked potatoes with an intense fenugreek aroma in bhuna (fried onion and tomato based sauce).
Salad onions, bell peppers, onions, paneer, sweet and spicy sauce. Our first taste of Indian Chinese cuisine, and we already want more!
Brisket stewed in spinach, mustard greens, mustard seeds, garlic, green chili, cardamom pods, fenugreek leaves. A complex, filling, but very aromatic dish.
A shockingly good pulao that took us to try replicating it ourselves. Our experiments could discern that the Basmati rice was spiced with fennel seeds, cumin seeds, all spice (cinnamon, clove), cardamom pods, black pepper, saffron, fenugreek leaves and garlic. It merits further investigation.
Red lentils, sun-dried chilli, dill and a generous amount of garlic.
Chicken keema (minced meat), with a Northern blend of spices (cumin, coriander seed, sun-dried chilli), tomato and bell peppers. Hearty and delicious, perfect for a warm meal in winter.
Hyderabadi milk bread. A texture akin to focaccia softened by the enriched dough.
Two curries and a serving of bread or rice fed two people generously. A chance to have 4 meals from Aktar at a terrific price. The only disappointment came with the packaging and delivery. First, the box itself looked like it had suffered a harsh journe. Yet, to make matters worse, the ‘right-side-up’ sign was misplaced by Opheem, delivering all containers upside down. Only the near obsessive and wasteful use of cling film saved the box from becoming a large curry cocktail shaker.