Favourite Things: High standards, hidden gems and curry top favourite list

Aagrah partner, Liquat Ali, keeps his hand in makinga naan bread.
Aagrah partner, Liquat Ali, keeps his hand in makinga naan bread.
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Liaquat Ali is a director for the Aagrah Indian Restaurant chain. Here he shares his ten favourite things and likes with our readers.

This week we have one of the directors of the Aagrah Indian Restaurant chain, Liaquat Ali, who has run the Aagrah in Doncaster for the past 21 years. Here he gives us an insight into his life and what he is like away from his day-to-day job.

Aagrah partner Liquat Ali with the Aagrah's new cookbook, Hand Over Fist.

Aagrah partner Liquat Ali with the Aagrah's new cookbook, Hand Over Fist.

1. Please tell us a little bit of the background about yourself?

I’ve run the Aagrah in Doncaster for the past 21 years serving the people of the town and surrounding areas. This is a family affair and my son works with me. Doncaster has been good to me.

I employ many local people who are trusted and have been with me for years. I am quite passionate about bringing the best to the people of Doncaster and maintaining high standards. Both me and my son Asif have put our hearts and souls into this business. Asif has been with me here for the past ten years. I have three sons and one daughter. The youngest son is 28. One is a GP who works in Goldthorpe and another is a corporate lawyer who works in London.

2. What is it you like about working in Doncaster?

As I mentioned I have been in business here for 21 years. I like the people here and I have made many friends here – it’s become like a big family. I have spent much of my life in Doncaster and I’ve put a lot of myself into this business. I was a relatively young man when I came here and now I am a little older and wiser. I have employed quite a number of local people and they have also become like family, which adds to a good working environment. As my son also works alongside me I have someone to carry on the business.

3. Do you have a favourite hidden gem in Doncaster?

My hidden gem would have to be the Mansion House in Doncaster. It is a fine old building that not many people in the town seem to take notice of. It’s a fine 18th century building. Also I enjoy Lakeside in Doncaster. I have spent many happy times with my family there and it’s a great place to visit. The wildlife park is also another gem in the district. There is a lot to choose.

4. What would be your favourite day out if you had to choose one?

If I had to take a day out and choose only one it would have to be the wildlife park. There is such a lot to see and no matter how old you are there seems to be something exciting for everyone to see. It’s a great experience down there.

5. What is your favourite pub or your favourite place to eat?

Because of my work commitments I don’t seem to get out as much as I would like to in the town. This may seem a bit silly to say, but I do like to have a family meal and get together at the Aagrah restaurant. We cook the same food there that we would cook at home – perhaps makhani or balti chicken.

6. Do you have any hobbies that you would like to share with us – what is it you like to do in your spare time?

My time is limited, but I do like to read history and I particularly like to find out how people lived and ate in times gone by. I also like to read books on how people eat across the world and then I can experiment and try to incorporate different tastes in my cooking. Cooking is a big thing for me and food is my life.

7. What is your favourite book and or film?

I would say I like to watch Bollywood movies. There is no particular movie or actor that I could call a favourite, I just like the whole thing. I enjoy experiencing where I was born, Kashmir, through the movies.

8. What sort of music do you like to listen to?

These days I like to listen to Indian music, but when I was younger it was Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, Tom Jones, The Beatles and The Monkees.

9. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life what would that meal be?

This a difficult one as I like many Indian dishes, but I suppose it would have to be something that my wife cooked. She’s very good at chicken dishes and I do also like vegetarian options. But anything she cooked with chappati and pillau rice and dahl.

10. Just imagine yourself stranded on a desert island. If you could be joined on that island by one other person of choice – even if that person is dead or alive or is even fictitious – who would that person be?

The first person I would choose would be my mother. I was young when she passed away and there’s so much I would like to ask her. Also, of course, my family.