Indian food is one of my favourite cuisines, the choices are endless, the flavours are intense and mouth watering and you can always go home feeling properly fed.
Le Raaj is the newest Indian restaurant to hit the North East with two openings in Chester Le Street and Sedgefield, both serving authentic and exotic Indian cuisine. 

A couple of weeks ago I visited the Sedgefield branch with my friend Lian for lots of food, drinks and a good catch up. We live around half an hour from the restaurant, and don't know the area too well, but thankfully the restaurant is really easy to find, right next to the main road between Stockton and Durham.
Once parked, we made our way into the restaurant, under the grand columns and archway and were greeted and seated at our table in the bright and vibrant dining area. We visited on a busy Friday evening, and the whole place was buzzing, with a really happy vibe.
The menus are pretty endless, with so many amazing options to choose from... We took our time reading them while sipping on our drinks that arrived promptly.
We ordered the popadums with a tray of pickles to nibble on while we waited for our starters to be cooked (which didn't take long at all), they were huge (one each was easily enough) and they came with really generous sized portions of assorted pickles including mango chutney, a cool mint sauce, shredded vegetables and a slightly spicier option that I loved.

For starters I got the lamb chop; three pieces of on the bone lamb which were marinated in mixed spices and chargrilled and Lian had Bhuna chicken on puree. Both starters came with a really fresh side salad and we both commented on how big the portions were and how well presented they looked.
My lamb was the perfect side of spicy, full of flavour and cooked perfectly. I could have easily eaten these again for my main, they were that good. 
The service we received throughout the meal was faultless. We had a mixture of waiters and everyone was as attentive and friendly as the next, answering any questions we had about the menu, making sure our food was okay and that our drinks were constantly filled up.

When it came to the mains, we were both a bit predictable and boring, as every time we have Inidan food, we get the same! Despite the menu being huge, we both know what we like and went with out usuals; I got the mixed balti and Lian had chicken tikka masala.

My balti was served in a hot Indian Wok, which not only holds the heat, but really enhances the spices and the smells of the dish. As all of the food is cooked fresh to order, I was able to ask for mine to be made slightly milder than usual, as I have had some bait dishes in the past that have been a little too hot for me, but this was perfect. It was packed with chicken, lamb and prawns and the spices were flavoursome and had a bit of a kick, but nothing hot enough to set my mouth on fire - just how I like it.
Lian's tikka masala seemed to go down really well too, and she said it was one of the best she's ever had.
We shared a plain naan bread and we both had sides of rice; I went with egg and Lian opted for plain, but we probably should have shared one of these too, as there ended up being way too much food for just the two of us!
We were feeling a little full, but decided to squeeze in a dessert each; I had a toffee ice cream with fudge pieces and Lian had apple ice cream wrapped in a crepe... Both looked pretty fancy and were the perfect desserts to eat with ease after such a big meal.

I can't wait to return to Le Raaj again, either for another evening meal or to take up their amazing three course lunch offer which costs only £8.95! 
If you're local to the area, I'd really recommend a visit, or if you prefer to eat in, they offer 15% off takeaway. 
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