The Raj, Blackburn review: Spice is right at curry house that will get you hot under the collar

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Like wine connoisseurs, food critics use adjectives to paint a picture, just as an artist uses brush strokes to convey their message.

But sometimes – for the artist and critic – it is impossible to fully relate the full glory of what they are trying to capture on a canvas or on a page.

The Raj served up one of these occasions.

No amount of ‘sumptuous’,‘tantlising’ and ‘exquisite’ usage will ever tell the full story of this Indian temple of fine dining.

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And by fine dining I don’t mean £100 for six courses of refined jus drizzled on a mouthful of deliciousness, I mean good value traditional Indian food but done to perfection.

They say a picture tells a thousand words and in this case it is true, the food captured with my trusty work phone camera reveals the secrets of this culinary East Lancashire jewel.

Saying this place delivers bold flavours delivered with an artist’s touch is actually downplaying the culinary creations wheeled out from the kitchen in this luxuriously decorated venue perched right on the Leeds/Liverpool canal.

Poppadoms with a choice of six sauces and chutneys were soon followed by small but perfectly formed starters of tikka prawns and lamb ?

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For sides we had a subtly sweet peshwari naan and a garlic naan as you can never get enough naan on these occasions, right?

And each one was sliced up and placed in it’s own basket for easy sharing.

We also went for the spicy fries which are a must for those who like a chilli-kick and the best tarka dahl in town, and ideal for naan-dipping.

And just to complete the collection of sides there had to be rice.

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And with about 10 varieties to choose from I risked the lemon rice with tiny chunks of lemon rind and fried onions.

Great for soaking up that heavenly tarka dahl.

For the main course, as we were celebrating my 49th birthday, we treated ourselves to the mega mixed grill with pretty much every selection of meat you could think of servied up on a scolding hot plate that we could hear sizzling with flavoursome fury as it was wheel out to us on a serving trolley.

And just to add even more spice and to get us hot under the collar we risked the chilli chicken that came with fresh green chillis, those thin ones with double the heat, and small battered chicken pieces and chunks of fried onions that had caramelised on the hot plate.

My son described the meats in the mixed grill as melt-in-the-mouth tender and the spicy fries as being kit for a king, so at the age of 11 perhaps he will be taking on the baton of food critic in years to come.

There certainly aren’t many other better ways to make a living, especially when the spice is right.