WITH a late finish at work and four hungry friends due to arrive within half an hour, I decided to make life easy for myself and order a takeaway.

At first I dithered and thought I’d wait for them to arrive but then took the decision to order for them. After all, had I been cooking I wouldn’t have consulted them.

I knew one of the group liked creamy sauces, one was a vegetarian, one – like myself – loves hot dishes and the other is always easy to please (or very polite!), so I made my choices accordingly.

I’d picked up a menu from what I thought was Spicy Bites at the top of Victoria Road in Old Town. But on closer examination discovered it’s now called Tarka and is under new management. I liked the food at Spicy Bites but as Tarka more than measured up, I won’t miss it too much.

I picked five main courses, a side dish and two rices. The person taking the order queried the ratio but I stuck at just two cartons of rice, which proved to be quite enough (my guests were all women).

Picking things I wouldn’t normally chose for myself, I had a couple of nice surprises. Among them was that chicken passanda (£5.95) may be mild but it’s tasty nonetheless. Slices of chicken came in a mix of cream, yoghurt and mixed ground nuts, which was a lot lighter than I thought.

Another dish which was new to me was the vegetable Sally (£4.25), which had a sweet and sour tomato sauce and came topped with what looked like fried dried onion but turned out to be crunchy potato pieces.

Another good sweet and sour tomato base dish was the prawn Pathia (£4.95). Then we had Massala fish (£8.25), a dish of salmon marinated in Indian herbs cooked in a gravy and an old favourite of mine, chicken Jalfrezi (£5.95), a good mix of onions, chilli, peppers, tomatoes, ginger and garlic in a thick sauce. The order was completed with spinach and potato sag aloo (£2.65), pilau rice (£1.90) and lemon rice (£2.25) - another new taste, with sliced fresh lemon in, which I’ll order again.

As the order came to more than £25 a special deal kicked in and we also got a bottle of white wine (normally £6.50) to toast the new takeaway in town.

Tarka, 116 Victoria Road, Old Town, Swindon, SN1 3BH. Sunday to Thursday 5pm to midnight; Friday and Saturday 5pm to late. Free delivery. Minimum order £10.