Lovers of Indian cuisine rejoice, for a new restaurant serving up an eclectic selection of authentic dishes has officially opened its doors in Inverness.
Mangrove, based on Academy Street, offers up a range of traditional dishes inspired by the flavours of India.
The family-run business comprises a team whose experiences span forty years and has knowledge of all the various food styles across the Indian subcontinent, with members coming from Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, India and Scotland.
This includes 36-year-old Zakir Khan, who owns the restaurant alongside Roshan Aryal.
Zakir, who lives in Inverness but is originally from Dingwall, worked closely with front of house managers, Connor Williams and Taz Miah, and interior decorators, Rashida and Jubyar Khan, for six months to transform the venue into a sleek 80-seater restaurant.
Welcoming customers seven days a week, its opening hours are noon to 10.30pm Monday to Thursday and noon to 11pm Friday to Sunday.
British Indian restaurant
Mangrove features two spaces for customers, the lounge and the main restaurant area, and guests are asked to bring their own bottle (BYOB) if they would like to consume alcohol.
A range of soft drinks and mocktails will be available to purchase in the venue.
For the past six years, Zakir and his team ran the intimate 24-seater restaurant, Saffron, in the Cradlehall area of Inverness.
Zakir said: “The smaller setting at Saffron meant that we got to meet the locals and build strong relationships with our customers.
“However, the lack of space within the kitchen made it hard for us to advance the demand and production of our business.
“This was where the concept for Mangrove started. Incorporating the beloved British Indian style the locals loved and elevating it through local produce and fusion styling.”
Every recipe at Mangrove has been developed with the help of Zakir’s mum, Rayna Khanam.
There are a number of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options available.
“We aim to provide the people with all the classic dishes you can expect from an Indian restaurant,” Zakir continued.
“However, we also have unique dishes that you would only be able to find at our restaurant.
“This includes our desi mince and tatties – an authentic keema and potato curry cooked with Munro Butcher’s beef mince meat, served with soft chapatis – and our tandoori makhanwala – the classic cheese curry topped with a golden crisp crust and served with crispy garlic naan fries.
“We have created some fusion dishes incorporating the comforting and historic family home meals of Scotland with the spice and fragrance of India.
“The palate of India is very different from the palate of Scotland, which is why we want to introduce even more unique and delicious flavours that may normally be hard to come by in the average diet.”
In terms of the restaurant’s name, it is inspired by the Mangrove tree which can be found on the saltwater coasts of 118 tropical and subtropical countries.
In Bangladesh, the Sundarbans – an area formed by the confluence of the Brahmaputra, Ganges and Meghna Rivers in the Bay of Bengal – has mangrove forests that grow across 3,860 square miles.
They provide a key shelter and breeding ground for many species, while also providing a barrier for the land when tsunamis are at risk.
Zakir said: “We have tried to incorporate the Mangrove aesthetic within the restaurant, with an array of plants and interior decoration highlighting the beauty of the forest.
“We aim to play a vital role within the action plan for the regrowth of Mangrove plants, too, whilst also working with charities in the reforestation of trees in Scotland.
“Because we’re BYOB, we charge a £2.50 corkage fee which gets donated to these charities.”
Zakir also understands the importance of supporting businesses local to the area and incorporating their produce into the restaurant’s menu, which also features freshly made waffles, crepes and sundaes.
“The team and I try to use local suppliers with our main meat supplier being Munro’s Butchers in Dingwall,” he said.
“We get our coffee from Inverness Coffee Roasting Co and ice cream from Rizzas in Huntly.
“Scotland and India are very similar in their family values. Food is comfort for the family, it brings us all together.
“We have high hopes for our Bombay Badboy burger, a delicious beef burger topped with an onion bhaji. Furthermore, we have an array of theatrical mocktails.
“Hopefully in the future, we’ll be able to bring our food to local events and festivals such as Belladrum.”