REVIEW: Your Friendly Neighbourhood Pasanda-Man

Mr India's Balti & Dosa House, Partick

The Time: March 19, 8pm(ish)

Booking Name: Mr John Waters

The Pub Aforehand: The Quarter Gill

In Attendance: Trampy, The Tramp, The Duke, Jalfrezi, The Bulldosa, Rumpole of the Balti, Rabbie Shankar, Rogan Josh Homme, The Birmingham Wan, first-timer Sir Spicy Lover and, eventually (see pic), The Gheezer.

Decor: To enter the house of Mr India is like falling, Last Action Hero-style, into a late-1970s advert for an Indian restaurant “just 200 yards from this cinema”. In a good way.

Expectations: Fairly high. Takeaways from this establishment came highly recommended by Curry Club's own pedal steel supremo Eamonn, although sadly work commitments meant he could not be part of the actual field trip.

The Experience:
BIFF! The first rule of dynamic storytelling is to begin in media res – right in among the action. BANG! Which is why we find Trampy and the Tramp and company – a spandex-clad band numbering a mighty 11 in this episode – jammed into a slightly
tucked-away Partick eaterie, setting about a sizzling Indian feast. KAPOW! And, inevitably, at the head of the table, the stylishly slavish movie adaptation of comicbook scripture Watchmen is being carved up as surely as the goa fish curry. KERPLUNK!

Each Curry Club member has their own distinct superpower (even if most of them could be loosely grouped under “bellowing”) but for now, secret identities remain intact, heroic Promethean features disguised behind glasses, beards and – occasionally – both. SHAZAM! Hang on … did that diabolical masked avenger known only as The Duke really just stand up on the table and shout: “None of you understand! I'm not locked up in here with you! You're locked up in here with me!” Or did your mild-mannered Daily Bugle reporter just imagine it after one too many Lal Toofans? As Herge might have put it: BOF!

Rewind three hours and the various members of the Curry Club super-team are still scattered across Glasgow, beginning their slow migration toward Partick. In recent months, our heroes have swooped all over the city in their search for hidden culinary treasures. But after scouring both south and north of the Clyde, this is a homecoming of sorts – because, of course, it was in Partick that TATTGOC created its own convoluted origin story with a legendary visit to the Indian Orchard. Last time our team assembled in this district, the pre-grub pub was The Tramp’s very own Fortress of Dissolitude: The Lismore. This time, it’s the refurbished Quarter Gill – and a little after the appointed time of 7pm, the first wave of Curry Clubbers swing in: Trampy, The Tramp, Jalfrezi, The Bulldosa and Rabbie Shankar. A promising start!

After securing a table and politely rebuffing an invitation to join the QG quiz, the advance party hunkers down and turn its attention to the serious business of tanning pints – a fizzy foreshadowing of sloshing events to come. Next to arrive is The Duke, closely followed by Sir Spicy Lover, a Curry Club greenhorn not long returned from a circumnavigation of the globe and hungry for a new challenge. Rumpole of the Balti, Rogan Josh Homme and the newly-whiskered Birmingham Wan rapidly round out our crew, setting in motion an impromptu game of chance and skill one could call “The Beer-qualiser” – with everyone drinking at (nominally) different speeds, it takes a few extra pints and half-pints here and there to ensure the assembled all finish up at (roughly) the same time. Thankfully, our destination is literally two doors away, so we can stand to be a little late.
Up, up and away!

Entering Mr India’s aromatic embrace heralds the first real surprise of the evening: other patrons. Perhaps there is some truth to the rumour that TATTGOC is going soft, getting too comfortable, losing its edge – if we’re going to restaurants where there are other diners already present, we may have lost sight of our original mission statement. Still, since we’re here … we may as well check it out. Our ten-strong and increasingly raucous team is easily accommodated, although we do slightly crowd a romantic couple nearby. Their intended pre-pillow talk is perhaps drowned out by catcalls for booze and a heartfelt cheer as The Gheezer belatedly arrives after another demanding day at the televisual coalface. The service is slightly tentative at first but – like the Club – becomes better oiled as the night continues. Due to the cosy confines of our table, it’s necessary to carefully pass pints of Lal Toofan down the line, which brings an almost ecclesiastical feeling to the evening; a sense of hushed ceremony that increases the cumulative throb of brotherhood.

soon arrive but someone’s sundry-sense is tingling – with a table of 11, to get just four wee bowls of mango chutney, spiced onions, raita and lime pickle is slightly unsatisfying. The group starters – rustled up by The Tramp, who ensures we get some dosas along with the usual pakora – are much better, but are presented on practical stainless steel platters that, purposefully or not, have something of the correctional facility about them, bringing to mind scenes from both Scum and Face/Off. Some prime chunks of lamb and chicken tikka are notably succulent, and the dosas are delicious even if it takes some fancy knife-work from chib-master Rumpole to ensure everyone gets a taste.

Though generously upholstered to create an illusion of thickness, Mr India’s menu actually seems more focused than many the Curry Club have encountered. Our group order covers almost the entire compass of food on offer, from a fish masala dosa to south Indian chilli garlic chicken and beyond. Non-conformist that he is, TATTGOC’s pet malcontent The Bulldosa (nee Aloo Aloo, nee Bawsaag, nee The Incredible Boak) even orders up a mini-feast that comes with its own spicy daal and chapati. The Tramp plumps for butter chicken (and he must have enjoyed it, as he had the same dish from the same place within a week of our visit). The rice/naan equation settles down at five rice and three naan (plain/garlic/peshwari) which at first seems like it might not be sufficient, although in the end is just about perfect.

Isn’t this the point where we first joined our heroes? With spicy food being devoured and opinions being voiced? As one end of the table debates Watchmen, the other hears of The Birmingham Wan’s childhood achievement: an imagined musical based on Star Wars. And then, suddenly, the conversation turns to a topic not entirely suited for a restaurant (the nearby couple have thankfully now left). Do you sit or stand? If you feel you didn’t get the chance to have your say in this matter, there may still be time to vote in the TATTGOC poll on your right. In many ways, it’s a burning question …

In a slight break from tradition, we demur from the brandy toast – our heroic band may be able to battle radioactive mutants, warmongering aliens and evil supervillains but the credit crunch is a far more insidious foe. The bill, however, seems perfectly reasonable and by the time the Curry Club has suited up to leave, there are far fewer patrons in the restaurant, which makes us all feel more comfortable. Before flying over to the Lismore for a final nightcap, there’s time for a snap outside Mr India’s. But wait, where’s The Gheezer? After arriving late in the first instance, he has also somehow conspired to miss the group shot. No matter: he is forced to pose for an additional pic, alone and seemingly unloved. Luckily, The Gheezer’s superpower is that he can summon a sense of
ennui at will, so he copes admirably with the gentle ribbing. And even as the rest of our band hoots and cavorts off-camera in an attempt to wind him up, he remembers the words of his dear departed Uncle Ben (always such a wizard with the rice): With great patter comes great responsibility.

Range Of Drinks: Tennent’s and the preferred Lal Toofan, which came in sturdy pint glasses rich in evocative iconography: camels! Snakes! FLAMES!

Highlights: Sizzlin’ main courses; a lively “atmos”, for once.

Lowlights: Tentative service; the starters coming on prison platters.

The Verdict: A surprisingly sociable experience!

The Damage: £213.25 (tip: £28.75)

The Tramp's Jukebox Puri: The Burning Train

Welcome back to the Tramposphere. Despite the inaugural Jukebox Puri being probably the most heinously overlooked post yet it is my great pleasure to bring you another mindbending track from the musically outrageous world of Bollywood. This week we'll be trying to comprehend exactly what was going on in the minds of the crazed souls responsible for the title track from 1980s blockbuster hit The Burning Train.

So, where to begin? Just like the tune featured in the last instalment of Jukebox Puri, I was first introduced to the track The Burning Train by former stalwart of the Glasgow disco gutter and now sadly missed curry comrade Mr A Fleming. The mighty Flemado had managed to pick up a copy of the soundtrack whilst touring the former colony with The Suave Sav and delighted in exposing me to its joys as he recounted tales of his travels. Boasting a formidably awesome cover and a much more reasonable price tag than it commands in the UK, he naturally snapped it up in an instant. But what of the actual piece in question?

Starting out like the orchestral introduction to a 1970s Royal Variety Performance the track quickly reveals how it means to go on as the big band fades into cheap funk and a Popcorn-esque electronic bleep kicks in, closely followed by a formidable squelchy electronic bassline. Then the vocals arrive ... from outer space. It seems that composer R D Burman, pictured left, had a) just taken delivery of a brand new vocoder, b) taken a large dose of psychedelics and c) had no-one overseeing the creative process. It doesn't take long to realise that the only lyrics are "the burning train," that they're alternately sung by both a male and a female, and that they are heavily vocoderised. Imagine sitting down to watch Runaway Train, for example, in your local cinema and the theme tune just being "runaway train, runaway train, runaway train, runaway train." It's fair to say you'd be bemused, then totally wigged out. Surely you should either have proper lyrics or none at all? Adding to the weirdness of the whole thing is the fact that the male singer abruptly switches style halfway through and starts channelling Louis Armstrong.

All in all, The Burning Train gets two thumbs up from The Tramp - it may not have the sleazy sensuousness of Dance Music but for pure vocoder madness it secures a place in The Tramp's wigged out Jukebox of fun. For your own (higher quality) personal copy click the link below:

The Burning Train MP3

More musical madness from The Tramp's archives there... but what do you think? Does The Burning Train rock your boat or derail your tram of thought? Answers on a postcard (or preferrably in the comments section below).

Curry Club Close-Up: Some Pilau Talk With Rogan Josh Homme

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 Curry Clubber who truly loves movies. Happy the man who is paid for his hobby ...

Name: Rogan Josh Homme

So who is the real Josh Homme? He’s the kick-ass, ginger-headed singer/guitarist with Queens of the Stone Age, the occasional singer and drummer with side project The Eagles of Death Metal, the former guitarist with Screaming Trees (albeit briefly), and general all-round rock god.

Was Seth Rogen Josh ever considered? Had I thought of it, it would have been. But hey, with Curry Club, surely it’s better to project who you’d like to be. Becoming an ultra cool rock star is sadly never going to be a reality. A schlubby, bearded and increasingly annoying loser is, I feel, well within my grasp.

Favourite Glasgow curry house: The Dakhin in Candleriggs – I’m a sucker for their dosas.

Second favourite Glasgow curry house: Hoping to find one via Curry Club.

Favourite Glasgow curry takeaway: The samosas from the Shandar Sweet and Pan House on Albert Drive are pretty good. For a full meal, Shimla Pinks on Pollokshaws Road ain’t bad – and since they deliver, going takeaway means you can avoid the restaurant’s weird 80s yuppie décor.

All-time favourite curry dish: Thanks to the influence of vegetarians in my life I’ve come round to the idea of Saag Paneer. There’s just something great about being able to have a cheese curry.

All-time curry idol: The excellent, old school Australian actor Rod Taylor for his role in the outlandish 1968 action flick Dark of the Sun (it’s based on a Wilbur Smith novel!), aka The Mercenaries. His name? Captain Bruce Curry. His game? Congo Special Forces, hired to lead a bunch of guys on a mission to covertly liberate $50 million in blood diamonds amid the fury of the Congo. Check out the trailer:

Captain Curry is a real man’s man, who understands the colonial value of a case of scotch and knows how to wear a beret and sweaty khakis with distinction. He also knows how to disarm a chainsaw-wielding Nazi using only his fists – a skill I think all members of Curry Club would like to possess. All hail Captain Curry!

Rice or naan? Naan. As long as it’s not chili naan. I still shudder at the memory of that experience at The Village.

Favourite curry lager: Cobra. It’s crisp, versatile and tastes good with almost everything, but when it’s combined with curry it’s like Pacino and DeNiro in Heat. Kingfisher is like Pacino and DeNiro in Righteous Kill.

What's the most exotic place you've had a curry? It’s not exotic, but I once had a curry in Seattle. Given the amount it rains there, it felt like eating out in Glasgow.

Can you actually make a decent curry yourself at home? No, at the risk of being barred from Curry Club, I’m much better at Mexican or Italian food.

If so, can we all come round for our tea? Eh, no – unless you want to eat vegetarian chili or baked ziti.

If you could enjoy a curry dinner-for-two with anyone, either alive or dead, who would it be? Gandhi. While he was fasting. More peshwari naan for me.

Do you have a favourite curry-related movie? Aside from Dark of the Sun? Sadly not. Movies featuring actual curry are generally awful, especially if they’re set in Glasgow (see – or rather don’t see – Nina’s Heavenly Delights). I always thought Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was a missed opportunity, curry-wise. Chilled monkey brains were all well and good, but would it have killed them to have curried monkey brains on the menu too?

What about a favourite curry-related movie pun? Repo Naan is a movie I’d love to see.

What creature or object would you say best symbolises your personality? A hare.

Rogan Josh Homme, there, as ever, cocked, locked and ready to rock. Do you agree with his choices? Are you looking forward to seeing Rod Taylor star as Winston Churchill in Inglourious Basterds? Spill it below, ya freaks.

Typical. You wait for one Curry Bus ...

... and then hunners come along at once.

Yes, Curry Clubbers, it's another of those weeks when Trampy and the Tramp let another, rather more technically adept website do the heavy lifting for them. In the above case, it's this one where you can spend literally minutes creating your own expletive-filled bus advertisement and then click a button to see it become sort-of plausibly real. The only good news is that after squeezing out so many puns in one intense session (we lost count after 20), Trampy may have none left over for the next meeting. Actually, let's not kid ourselves ...

So. The venue for this month's Curry Club is still a bit up in the air. You might get hit by a bus tomorrow, so let us know your thoughts sooner rather than later. That's what comments is for.