As far as I'm concerned Azram's Sheesh Mahal is a genuine Leeds institution. If you're not already familiar with the place, and you live in Leeds, then you either don't like curry, or you've been asleep for the past twenty years.
The Sheesh Mahal is an authentic British curry house. I would normally mean that as an insult, because many of them are rubbish. Curries that are all the same slop in various colours and various levels of chilli heat, flock wallpaper, drunk people, jazzy carpets, dry bright red tikka, too many pints of gassy lager, you know the sort of thing. (I don't really know what flock wallpaper is by the way, it's just always included in the crap curry house clichés, so it seemed a shame to miss it out).
Although Sheesh Mahal looks the part, the crucial difference is that the food is good. Not the best curry you've ever had good, but solid, reliable, always glad you went good. I've been dining there from time to time for over 12 years now, and hopefully will be for another 12 and more.
My most recent visit was last Friday night, after a trip to the Leeds Beer, Cider and Perry Festival. As you can probably imagine, myself and my dining companion had been drinking beer, cider and perry, so a curry was called for to soak up the booze.
We were a bit late arriving (they close at midnight and we didn't arrive until gone half eleven), so skipped starters and ordered a meat laziz special, a chicken chana balti, a pilau rice, a plain nan and a couple of chapattis. And two pints of lager of course.
As expected everything was reliably good. The meat laziz special is a dish of slow cooked lamb chunks in a nice tangy, reduced sauce with a lot of lemon and pepper in it. The balti came sizzling in its pot and was very gingery and garlicky. I think they use chicken thigh pieces too, a much better option than breast which dries out far too easily (this is another sign they are not a rubbish authentic british curry house - many of these advertise that they only use chicken breast as a selling point). The nan bread was great too, nicely crisped and not too doughy.
Sorry about the poor photo quality, it was dark and I'd had a few ales. But as you can just about see we polished off the lot. The bill came to not particularly much, and service was as efficient as ever. They also didn't rush us out too quickly even though we were in there way after closing time. The food is probably worth a 7, you can get a better curry in Leeds, but I'm going to bump them up a mark for their enduring consistency and reliability.
346-348 Kirkstall Road
There's another branch in Chapel Allerton, but I've only ever been to Kirkstall Road.