Food review: 5Tara Sheffield
Exposed visits the Duke Street restaurant bringing an authentic taste of Punjab to Park Hill.
You’ll find 5Tara tucked away to the side of the sprawling Park Hill complex, a former sandwich shop transformed by owners Aman and his partner Shivi into an inviting haven of Punjabi cuisine. Arriving outside the restaurant on a sunny afternoon, the first thing we spotted was a drinks dispenser offering free chilled soft drinks with recyclable cups to passers-by – that should give you a small idea as to the warmth of the welcome you’ll receive inside.
Inspired by the Punjabi Dhabas, the roadside restaurants in India serving fresh food at affordable prices, 5Tara’s interior is both polished and engagingly busy. Long windows let in plenty of light while walls teem with plants and wildlife décor, a nod to the native farmland of North India, and you can’t help but marvel at the level of graft required in three weeks (they worked 12-13 hours a day) for the husband-and-wife team to turn the space into what it is today. Aman tells us he sees 5Tara as a fusion of their culture, religion and food – “a perfect harmony,” as he calls it – and wants customers to see the restaurant as their second home. We certainly felt quickly settled as we took our seats and started browsing the menus, while behind the drinks counter Aman whipped us up some vegan-friendly lassis.
Lassi is a blended drink popular in northern India and usually made with yoghurt, ice and cardamom syrup. Like everything on the 5Tara menu, they’re made traditionally, which in this case means without added sugar, and they offer up to ten different flavours. We chose the Gulkand Paan and the Mango Kesar – both delicious, fragrant and hugely refreshing options.
From the street plates section, we chose the Gol Gappe, the traditional street snack of crunchy puris filled with smashed aloo, onions, chutney and spices. You’re given a glass of sweet and spicy sauce which you pour into the chaat bombs before popping the whole thing into your mouth for, fittingly, an explosion of contrasting but nicely balanced flavours. We also shared a bowl of Bollywood Chilli Tofu, which was covered in a beautiful tangy masala chilli sauce that we simply couldn’t get enough of. It was, hands-down, the best tofu dish I’ve ever tried – and my vegan eating partner, far better versed in the ways of tofu than me, wholeheartedly agreed.
Right, now onto the mains and I had eyes for one thing only: the Sharabi Lamb Gosht Curry. Protected by a 96-year-old family recipe, Aman was naturally keen not to give much away other than the lamb had been slow-cooked for 48 hours. As such, it was insanely tender, spiced to perfection, wonderfully rich, and as is the case with all 5Tara dishes, containing no excess oil. I’m actually going to say it: in terms of pure taste value, it was the best curry I’ve ever had in Sheffield. How’s that for a compliment?
My partner opted for the Indian Vegan Fish and Chips. A selection of sizeable crunchy battered tofu pakoras looked resplendent alongside tandoor chips, as masala sabzi spices added an extra depth of native flavour and aroma to the meal. The tofu ‘fish’ was devoured before I could get a sample, but I was kindly allowed to dip a tandoor chip into the accompanying curry-style sauce and I could see why he had a contented grin across his face. Full marks once again for meal satisfaction.
We’re incredibly lucky to have 5Tara, and there’s no surprise they’ve been receiving visitors from across South Yorkshire and as far away as the Midlands. If you’re looking for easily the most authentic Indian cuisine in the city, truly unique dishes served in a wonderfully hospitable setting, then I’d recommend getting yourself booked in soon.