We tried out Greater Manchester's best kebabs to see how good they really are
The four Greater Manchester nominees for the British Kebab Awards are in Royton, Middleton, Wythenshawe and Rusholme. We decided to see just how good they were
One of the main reasons I got into journalism was to drive around Greater Manchester in a pool car, eating kebabs all day.
Not really - it was for the enormous salary and the unrelenting waves of positive comments about your work on social media.
But since both of those are but a dream, here I am, on a journey to the four corners of Greater Manchester. Like a budget Michael Palin.
Actually, it's not even four corners. More like two, actually.
The four Greater Manchester nominees for the British Kebab Awards - yes they are real and they are a BIG DEAL - are in Royton, Middleton, Wythenshawe and Rusholme. Therefore, so am I.
Fortunately, I love kebabs and they made up approximately 78 per cent of my diet in my twenties. The rest was Guinness and scotch eggs and explains why I put two stone on in a year.
The high/low point, depending on how you choose to look at it, was eating a kebab, alone, on Christmas Eve waiting for my friend to finish work so we could drive back home to the North East.
Those years of dedication taught me a few things about what makes a good kebab. There are several factors into creating a perfect parcel of meaty goodness, and they will be scored on all these things.
Pitta is better than naan, all the sauces and if you have cucumber on your salad, you're a lost cause.
So, telling myself that this is probably how Keith Floyd started, it's seat belts on off we go on a journey of naan-based discovery.
It’s been quite the year for Istanblue in Royton.
Here, the star of the show is the VIP mixed grill - essentially two kebabs on a plate (three if you count the small Turkish kebab on the side of the plate).
It’s a beast, and the couple on the table opposite think I’ve gone mad as I get stuck in to more meat than I’ve eaten so far this month, from a plate that’s bigger than the steering wheel of my car.
It’s a beast, but everything on the plate is superb. Tender meat, two giant flatbreads, and a couple of portions of rice AND chips, just in case you were still hungry.
Chicken, lamb donner, lamb chops, spices pork - every time you move something, there’s a piece of meat under it. It’s all good though.
Two flat breads act as plates within a plate, scooping up the giant slabs of meat. Warm and soft, as it should be.
Chill and garlic, served in separate glasses. Chilli needs more bite but they’re both decent enough.
It’s a show stopper to look at, as the bloke on a date with his missus seems to back up, given that he spent more time looking at my food than her.
The Rolls Royce of the kebab world.
Off to Middleton next, and at the other end of the scale is the modest Barbecue.
No mighty plates of meat here, but plenty of kobeda kebabs hanging tantalisingly on long skewers in the fridge.
Proving that less can be more, the kebab here is packed with flavour and has a spicy kick.
An oval shaped nan bread wraps pleasingly round the kebab and is a cut above most takeaway breads.
Chilli is sharp and spicy and the yoghurt is smooth and creamy, neither disguising the flavour of the meat too heavily.
It might not look like a prize winner, but there’s lots of flavour packed into this modest parcel of flavour. And for £4, it’s a steal.
Urban Spice, Rusholme
The third stop on my meaty odyssey is Rusholme.
We’re a little off the curry mile though, at Urban spice on Hathersage Road.
Another fridge of hanging meat - I’m starting to notice the extra dimension to these award-nominated kebabs.
The kobeda I’m served here is an absolute monster. It’s the size of a baby’s arm and although it’s a bit fatty - some of it oozes out as I try and get through it with my plastic fork - it’s a treat. Spices hunks of chicken tikka rest around it like pups trying to feed off a blue whale parent.
A fresh, plump naan that absorbs and drips. Let’s be honest - a pitta just isn’t going to contain this monster.
Probably the best chilli sauce of the bunch with a dry, immediate heat. The yoghurt sauce counters it well and doesn’t make my entire being smell of garlic.
It’s an impressive looking kebab that stopped me in my tracks when it was handed over the counter to me. Reminiscent of the midwife handing one of my three newly born kids, and almost as daunting.
My quest is almost at an end as I pull up outside Kebabilicious in Wythenshawe.
This place has got British Kebab Award form - proudly displaying its 2015 shortlist certificate and 2018 nomination on the counter.
It’s a fun place too - the brothers who run it joke with each other behind the counter and they even charge my dying phone while I wait. It’s the little things...
Oh man. Luscious lumps of lamb and chicken tikka are an absolute gems that melt in the mouth.
Another supersize effort that holds firm in the face of piles of hot delicious meat.
The chilli Is a fiery red that mixes in to the meat spices and adds a bit of drama when you peel back the tin foil sheath. The yoghurt gets a little lost but frankly, who cares?
It’s another beauty - today has made me understand that the beige blanket of donner meat in a piddling pitta just isn’t going to cut it any more.