IT was Dorset's first Indian restaurant and the award-winning Taj Mahal in Westbourne, which opened its doors more than 50 years ago, has certainly stood the test of time.

For those who are tired of the fad for contemporary fusion food, this traditional curry house is comfortingly familiar with its flock wallpaper and loud patterned carpets and crockery.

New owners, Mohammed Rahman and Giash Uddin, who took over the 100-seater restaurant in Poole Road last July, are planning a revamp in 2016.

"We will make the place brighter but we will maintain our reputation as a traditional Indian restaurant because that is what our guests want. The original chef, Akhtar Hussain, is now back by popular demand too," said Mohammed.

The menu is vast with an array of Indian and Bangladeshi dishes, so we were pleased to have a few papadums and pickles to whet the appetite first.

On Mohammed’s advice, we chose the mixed kebab (£4.10) to share as a starter which included an onion bhaji which was flat rather than round and was so light and crispy it practically melted in the mouth, chicken tikka which was easily the best I've ever tasted - apparently it is marinated over night to give it more depth of flavour - and a minced lamb kebab served with salad garnish.

For mains, I had to try the Bhuna Mosala, (£7.50) one of the house specialities, which is described on the menu as the most beautiful dish ever made.

This was a stunning dish in every way created with a combination of fresh cardamom, cinnamon sticks, cloves, garlic, fennel leaves, green peppers, tomato, almond, coconut, onions and just a touch of cream.

Although it was full of flavour, it was almost over-shadowed by our second choice, Tawa, (£7.95) which Mohammed had recommended as it was their most popular dish.

Neither of us have ever had a Tawa before and it was a revelation.

Slivers of tender chicken served in a robust, medium hot sauce, made with chopped onions, tomato, fresh ginger, garlic, coriander powder, curry powder, turmeric, fenugreek lead and topped with melted cheddar cheese.

My husband who is a staunch madras man reckoned it was the best dish he'd ever had.

Our side dishes included sag aloo with chunks of potato, fresh spinach and tomato, pilau rice which was fluffy and fragrant and a plain naan which was light and tasted freshly made.

This was our first visit in several years, but the Taj Mahal is now a firm favourite and is clearly a popular choice as it was almost fully booked on a mid-week evening.

There is also a range of special offers including a banquet evening every Tuesday. Choose one starter and one main plus one rice per person and one for £11.95 per person plus 20 per cent of all drinks (except wine). Other deals include special offer lunches, half price main course and rice, seven days a week.