Curry Club Close-Up: Some Pilau Talk With The Birmingham Wan

Everyone in the Glasgow of Curry brotherhood loves curry – but wouldn't it be intriguing to discover more about the men behind the menu choices? In this occasional Q&A series, we'll be journeying into the curry-obsessed mindpans of prominent members, continuing with a legend who effortlessly straddles the spheres of both curry and darts.

Name: The Birmingham Wan

How did that nickname come about?
It’s to do with the fact I lived for about three years in our nation’s second city – and home of the Balti – Birmingham. That combined with the years I spent in jail wrongly accused of a minor terrorist attack in the 1980s. It never got the press attention that some of the other cases did, but those showers still haunt me.

Favourite Glasgow curry house: I'd like to be a bit more "Well there’s this little place that no one has heard of …" but I’m afraid I’m a Mother India boy. I live just round the corner and it’s pretty hard to beat.

Second favourite Glasgow curry house:
I still lament the loss of the Shalimar on Gibson Street. I used to go there when I was at university and have many happy memories of their £10 buffet. While the food wasn't spectacular, they served the best pint of Tennent’s lager in Glasgow, ice-cold with a thick creamy head. Even my old man commented on how good it was when I took him there. Interestingly enough, my mates and I would go every New Year's Day and book in under the name of someone famous ... a tradition that has been carried on by a certain world-famous Curry Club I now frequent.

Favourite Glasgow curry takeaway: I’d like to give a shout out to Condorrat’s very own Spice Magic. Not strictly Glasgow, but it was the favourite curry establishment of the Japanese wife of one of my best friends, so who can argue with that? Also, ever since Gregory’s Girl, Cumbernauld has rarely been portrayed in a positive light. So here’s one for the good guys.

All-time favourite curry dish: For a starter, the fish and ginger pakora from Mother India makes my nuts tingle it’s so good. For a main course I like a lamb saag or a fish curry (nothing too creamy and the spicier the better). I think well-cooked lamb is the sign of a proper curry house – any halfwit could knock up a decent enough chicken dish. I also love a bit of tattie in a curry ...

All-time curry idol: My uncle Sean. He once spent a summer winkling naans for a living. If that don’t demand respect I don’t know what does. Well done to Sean and all the other unheralded winklers out there – keep up the good work.

Rice or naan? Rice. It's got to be boiled though. I just don’t understand fried rice, why make it greasy? I also like a chapati and I do have a growing fondness for a garlic naan. Can’t understand the sweet naan thing though – it doesn’t float my boat. And the stuff with the meat through it is just taking the piss, really.

Favourite curry lager: As long as it's wet, cold and not brewed in Dennistoun, then you're heading in the right direction.

What's the most exotic place you've had a curry? I've eaten curry in Melaka in Malaysia, had a curried stingray in Singapore and a good few spicy dinners in Tokyo. Despite that recent Foreign Curryspondent report, curries in Japan have improved significantly since I first went there six years ago. They used to be awful but I was there in the summer and had a few belters.

Can you actually make a decent curry yourself at home? As much as I don’t like to blow my own trumpet (silly saying – why own a trumpet if you're not going to blow it?) I can knock up a reasonable haddock and potato number.

If so, can we all come round for our tea? If you sign the relevant risk assessment and liability waiver forms, of course you are welcome.

If you could enjoy a curry dinner-for-two with anyone, either alive or dead, who would it be?
I’d have to say God. Then if he doesn’t exist I’ll just have to eat for the both of us. If he does I’d like to hear what he’s got to say for himself (or herself).

Is there anything you paticularly miss about your time in Birmingham? The choice and diversity of the curry was amazing. There was a restaurant on Ladypool Road, deep in the heart of the Balti Triangle, called the Al Frash, and I loved it. The tandoori fish and aubergine side dish was enough to make me rigid with delight. I also found a place that did a tikka Scotch Egg, which was nice.

What creature or object would you say best symbolises your personality? For the picture, like? I’d have to say a panda bear wearing a jetpack with laser beams for eyes and a cheeky grin is how I've always seen myself. Either that or Jimmy Nail in Spender will do.

A fascinating insight, there, into the mind of The Birmingham Wan. Who will be next to bare their curry soul? And will Ravi Peshwari ever answer those questions? Stay tuned ...


Sir Spicy said...

Nut tingling - there's a phrase that deserves to be on more curry menus! Great stuff from a true expert.
How about these films for showing Cumbernauld in a more positive light?

Sir Spicy Tingling Nuts said...

Not sure if that link works as it does different things from school. Go to
and search for 'Cumbernauld Hit'.
You'll find two classic clips. :-)

Trampy said...

"A veritable jewel in the navel of Scotland ... ladies and gentlemen, we're going to hijack Cumbernauld!"

Those clips are pretty wigged-out, although it will be up to The Tramp to decide whether they are officially mindbending. Shame they take so long to load.

The original 1977 film was directed by Murray Grigor, who co-wrote the recent book Being A Scot with big Sean Connery. I liked the first suggested question for media studies students: "Why do you think this film was made?"

Why, indeed.