In the 1930’s, Farzand Begum, the matriarch of the Mumtaz family, moved with her family from India, halfway across the world to Bradford.
In 1979 she opened a 4 metre square take-away shop and street stall in Great Horton Road, using recipes from her native Kashmir district.
The shop became very popular and helped by her family, the business started to expand.
Like the humble beginnings of Marks and Spencer, which started as a penny stall in Leeds Market, the business grew and grew.
By the late 1970’s the Mumtaz brand opened a sparkling new 500 seat restaurant on the very road where the original take-away was situated. Keeping roots in the Bradford area was a wise move as the family have been major contributors to the city retaining the Curry Capital of Britain title in October 2016, and this for the sixth year in a row.
Leeds was the next target for expansion and a £3.3m (yes million) pound development in 2009 saw the flagship Mumtaz Leeds restaurant open in a truly magnificent setting, overlooking the waterways at Leeds Dock. This was built as a tribute to Farzand and is a huge 10,000 square foot space which caters for 300 diners.
No expense was spared in creating a glittering, Versace inspired palace of marble, with black and silver columns and Murano glass chandeliers. A grand piano takes centre stage. Entering the premises simply takes the breath away.
I have no doubt that The Queen and Prince Phillip, when they dined here, were similarly impressed.
This area of Leeds is recently revitalised as a destination and is across the Dock from the Leeds Royal Armouries Museum.
It was to this restaurant that my wife and I ventured for something of a novelty to me, an Indian High Chai afternoon tea.
More familiar with an Indian traditional evening meal, I was not sure what to expect.
Had this been one of my usual meals, I could have looked forward to starters from around £4.25 to £8, mains from £10 to £17 and all the usual accompaniments.
As it was, we were greeted by the smiling front of house Manager and shown to our waterside- view table. A jug of tap water and clean glasses were provided without even asking.
As we luxuriated in the surroundings, we noted the caviar and mocktail bar, which prove very popular in the evenings.
Weddings, parties and private dining are all catered for, naturally.
Our waiter, Talha, was the epitome of charm. Unprompted, he explained the items and how they were cooked before we received them, in order to ascertain any dietary requirements. Subtly done.
Not only chai tea, but a large selection of other hot and cold drinks can be taken as an alternative and at no charge. The chai tea was delicious, by the way.
Our order was soon with us, along with two bowls of piquant sauces.
A stack of three eye-pleasing plates, full of tasty delights, was worth a photograph.
Farrali Patice (coconut dumplings), complimented cocktail samosas, chicken rolls and haa bhara kebabs on sticks.
The warm vegetable pakoras and aloo pratha were taste experiences all of their own.
The flavours were nuances of spices rather than the heat you might expect.
My wife does not like curries but loved this selection.
To follow, we had strawberry tarts, honey baklavas, macaroons, jalebi and gulab jaman, though we had to take a goody bag as the whole feast had finally defeated us.
Talha was unobtrusively attentive throughout and brought us warm wet-wipes for our hands as we finished.
High quality staff and food is something they take seriously here.
We had had an excellent and relaxing afternoon and left sated.
Take a look at the incredible chocolate roses for sale on the way out.
At around £25 for the two of us, we felt that we had had good value for money, though there are discounts to be had by searching certain websites.
Not ones to rest on their laurels, the Mumtaz brand has a well established range of take-away food comprising 14 mains, 6 accompaniments and 3 Lassi’s, available at well known major supermarkets as well as Harrod’s.
Why not make an afternoon of it? Early afternoon at the free to enter Royal Armouries, high chai afternoon tea at Mumtaz, then take the adjacent free water-taxi (operating from 7am to 7pm) for a ten minute ride along the waterfront to the railway station and Granary Wharf, where there is a plethora of trendy pubs, bars and restaurants to while away the evening. It is a short walk back to the car.
For those unfortunates who do not live within striking distance of Bradford or Leeds and are drooling at the spicy fragrances you can surely smell by now, a restaurant opened in Manchester in 2016 and there are further plans to open in London, Edinburgh and Birmingham.
Sat- navvers should enter LS10 1 PJ and make use of the free on-street parking from 4pm in Chadwick Street to the rear of the restaurant, or in the nearby multi-storey car park.
If you present your parking ticket in the restaurant, they will stamp it for free exit, another welcome bonus to go with the free wi-fi.
For menus, opening times and more information go to www.mumtazleeds.co.uk
N.B. This place is packed at weekends and you will need to book. It is more relaxed mid-week.