The Ashmaan: Heavenâ€™s Gateway in Linlithgow.
Iâ€™ve heard so many good things about this place.
I enter The Ashmaan where Iâ€™m met with tasteful dÃ©cor: blacks and purples, mirrors split into different sizes. Thereâ€™s a Christmas tree that matches the colour scheme. I cast an eye over the restaurant, itâ€™s been finished to an admirable standard. And there are several booths that allow you to have privacy.
The Ashmaan is a family business that was established in 1984 that serves halal Pakistani and Indian cuisine. Typical dishes include Mir Mahal, with lychees and mixed fruit in a cream-based sauce, Â£9.15; and Indian vegetables of Bhindi, Karela & Tinda (ladyfinger), bitter gourd, & baby pumpkin, Â£7.95. Thereâ€™s also a wide selection of dishes that cater to British tastes, omelettes, fish & chips etc.
I order Murgh Methi, which is lamb tikka with fenugreek, spinach and fresh green chillies, and side-dish of Indian vegetables and lime pickle. The portions are a good size, not too small but not too big either. My lamb is garnished with dried chilli and coriander. The dish shapes are abstract, my serving plate looks like a weathered triangle.
The rice is cooked to perfection, firm with bite. Itâ€™s pre-washed so thereâ€™s not that stickiness to it. The grains flow freely around my plate. The lamb dish has a great balance of heat, salt, and fat, and itâ€™s done to a formidable standard. My marinated lamb has the texture of sirloin or fillet beef, itâ€™s got that spring to it. Clearly, theyâ€™ve not skipped on quality: itâ€™s just great ingredients, done well. But these dishes didnâ€™t happen overnight, they evolved over 35 years.
My Indian vegetables are creamy and thereâ€™s a bitterness to them too. Â Itâ€™s not unpleasant, itâ€™s an acquired taste but I like that.
The okra is sensual, not mushy. But itâ€™s the attention to detail thatâ€™s winning me over. If you go for fine dining you expect attention to detail, this is not sloppy. Time, care, continually adjusting dishes according to client feedback, now thatâ€™s a good service. The lamb dish has a slight sweetness to it; and the fenugreek is not grassy,with that unadmirable rawness. The dish is held together well. Thereâ€™s not a great deal of marsala gravy, just the essentials of life, a drier more authentic dish. The pickle cuts through the creaminess of the vegetables.
My recommendation would be this: if you want to go for dinner, itâ€™s worth travelling to The Ashmaan. In many ways, I donâ€™t want these dishes to end. And Iâ€™ve never said that before. I can see why when people fly back from Oz, the first thing they do is come here. They also do restaurant-standard food to your door.
The owner is building up a rapport with the clients. Directing them on their dining. What they like, what they donâ€™t like. Ensuring they get exactly what they want. Uplifting pop music is playing, â€˜Everythingâ€™s going to be okayâ€¦â€™ Itâ€™s reassuring in these times of Brexit and problems overseas. Itâ€™s important to focus on the small details rather than the big picture. Living in the present. Thereâ€™s a young Stevie Wonder playing mouth organ as I observe a couple holding hands over the table.
Bring Your Own bottle.
Closed for the Christmas holidays.
The bill came to Â£16.55.
We’ve just received some sad news.Â Mrs Rashida Begum, widow of the late Mr Rashid Ahmed from Glasgow and latterly Linlithgow passed away on Friday 13th December.Â This signalled the end of an era as both husband and wife were instrumental in establishing the business over 35 years ago and developingÂ it over that period.Â They helped with food preparationÂ and were heavily involved in the day-to-day running of the business.Â Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this difficult time.