The Prize Is Right!

Scotland’s curry aristocracy turned out in force – and in all their finery – earlier this week at the Irn-Bru Scottish Curry Awards 2009, a laudable institution now in its second strident year. Over 500 restaurateurs, chefs, waiting staff, celebrities and curry consumers mingled over champagne and spicy canapés at the Marriott Hotel in Glasgow, musing over the latest culinary trends and gossiping about who might receive the gongs at this prestigious, star-stuffed ceremony.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was there – which meant a lot of jokes about politicians and their expenses – as was Katharine Brown, the newly crowned Miss Scotland, who towered over everyone else in spectacular heels and a tiara that only added more inches. With two media sponsors in the form of The Sunday Post and The Sun, there were also a fair few journalists. Arguably, one element was missing: a delegation from the city’s tangiest grassroots culinary blog, Trampy And The Tramp's Glasgow Of Curry. Hang on … who are these surprisingly dapper and yet ruggedly handsome fellows? Would it be presumptuous to assume that these bad boys are about to put the "riot" in "Marriott Hotel"?


That’s right, mofos – Trampy and The Tramp were honoured to be invited to the biggest night of the Scottish curry calendar by event organisers Oceanic Consulting. Perhaps these canny promoters realised that what TATTGOC may lack in actual cooking skill, we more than make up for in appetite and enthusiasm. Unfortunately, long-standing work commitments meant The Tramp was unable to attend in person. But recent birthday boy The Bulldosa was happy to step up to the plate, especially when he was informed that the lavish ceremony would include an actual curry feast.

From their table, seated with various other curry provocateurs and a newshound from leading Glasgow periodical The Extra, Trampy and The Bulldosa could take in just about everything that was happening in the main ballroom. The master of ceremonies? Bryan Burnett – a development that allowed for a legitimate number of “ginger spice” jokes. The ever-chipper radio personality and host of popular BBC Scotland show Get It On With Bryan Burnett seemed genuinely thrilled to be involved (rumours that he requested to be paid in curry could not be confirmed at the time of going to press).

But before the awards, it was time for tucker. Highly trained waiting staff ninjaed between the many circular tables, dispensing spicy starters like dhaka chicken, paneer tikka and a notably spicy seekh kebab. Soon after, the mains materialised in all their glory, suspended in a groaning Heath Robinson-esque contraption which allowed people to help themselves and start piling up a curry megamix on their plate. Rice or naan? In this instance, there was plenty of both: mounds of vegetable pilau rice and a basket with rogni naan, roti and paratha. No-one went hungry at Trampy and The Bulldosa's table of nine souls, and while there was a bit of a ruckus over the garlic chilli chicken as everyone ladled the tangy goodness onto their plate, no actual violence ensued (but check out all those hands in the picture! Grabby grabby! Judging by those nails, it looks like Trampy is making a play for the red wine.)

As it turned out, there was plenty to go round, including a delicious lamb handi, a shahi turka dhal, terrific mixed vegetables and some malai koftas – which, if you think about it, could become an unofficial name for the awards themselves: The Koftas. If the caterers were worried about not only feeding Scotland's curry elite but actually impressing them, they did themselves proud. Many of the dishes had a pretty spectacular heat kick, so the following tiered sponge cake – complete with edible Irn-Bru label and a disconcerting side order of pineapple – helped cool things down a bit.

The first award of the night was Irn-Bru Curry Lover Of The Year. And while Martyn Wallace did well to be nominated, it always seemed likely that The Rt Hon Alex Salmond MP MSP, First Minster Of Scotland was going to edge it. While Eck wisnae there in person, deputy Sturgeon was there to snag the trophy, and the big man himself later released this statement: "Curry is an integral part of Scotland’s rich culture which is why we have so many top quality restaurants across Scotland serving such popular dishes. I am grateful for my award and congratulate all those who received recognition as part of the Scottish Curry Awards 2009." He then made a joke about Burns and "the brotherhood of naan". Glasgow picked up gongs in some of the other notable categories, though, with The Ashoka on Elderslie Street – a possible TATTGOC target – picking up Team Of The Year and Chef Of The Year going to Jaffar Hussian of Kabana on the south side, who made a touching and humbling speech. Any of the brotherhood experienced Kabana?

There followed a charity auction to raise funds for the very deserving Scottish Spina Bifida Association. By this time, The Bulldosa had consumed almost enough alcohol to make a speculative bid on the sheet music of A Million Love Songs signed by the current membership of Take That. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed. Sadly, TATTGOC's balloon raffle tickets didn't lead to any prizes but our ambassadors were simply happy to be contributing to such an excellent cause.

With the temperature rising, and Trampy getting on one of his famous curry sweats, the final awards were announced. And while we should all salute Mr Balbir Singh Sumal for being crowed Curry King Of The Year, it was particularly inspiring to see Mr Ali Ahmed Aslam receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.

We all know The Tramp sleeps with the Shish Mahal cookbook under his pillow to increase the chances of dreaming about their lamb chops, so to witness Mr Ali accept the award with his father (pictured) was a very special moment in Glasgow Of Curry history. Even though TATTGOC is committed to seeking out curry restaurants that remain under the radar, the Shish remains talismanic for many of the brotherhood. (There's actually a pretty good recap of the whole Shish Mahal saga – saaga? – here.)

Anyway, here's those Irn-Bru Scottish Curry Awards 2009 results in full:

Curry Lover Of The Year: Alex Salmond (goan yersel, Eck!)
Best Supermarket Curry Of The Year: Asda
Team Of The Year: The Ashoka, Glasgow
Chef Of The Year: Jaffar Hussian of Kabana, Glasgow
Takeaway Of The Year: Kebab Mahal, Edinburgh
Lifetime Achievement Award: Mr Ali Ahmed Aslam
The Sunday Post Restaurant of the Year: Cinnamon, Aberdeen
Curry King Of The Year: Mr Balbir Singh Sumal


As our detail staggered, sated, into the cooling night air, swinging their Irn-Bru giddy bags with goodie abandon, The Bulldosa discovered something he had stuffed into his pocket earlier (not, sadly a couple of the delicious hara bara kebab canapes). During their initial approach to the evening's venue, a forthright young lady had intercepted our envoys just before they hit the red carpet, pressing some flyers into The Bulldosa's mitt. Turns out they were vouchers promising two lapdances for a tenner at a nearby gentlemen's pleasure palace, albeit one housed within some of Glasgow's most brutalist architecture. Of course, it took mere seconds for our heroes to reject the idea of continuing on to such a den of sin – one lamb handi a night is, perhaps, a sensible limit.

Many thanks to Faiza and Angie from Oceanic for being such good sports and having us along; the man with the official camera was Tom Finnie. All in all, an awesome night – so should we start saving now to reserve a full TATTGOC table for 2010?

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