Another Important Announcement

After the success of an earlier initiative, Trampy and The Tramp have now declared 2010 will also be The Year Of The Curry.

One small step for naan; one giant leap for naankind.

Happy New Year to all when it comes, love Trampy and The Tramp

Lots Of Bars But No Drink

It's Christmas, just about, and while keen-eyed readers might be expecting a report from our recent excursion to Shimla Pinks, you'll just have to make do with some heartfelt season's greetings from Trampy and The Tramp (although you can get a sneak preview of what happened that fateful night in the regular sidebar slideshow). Expect the full Pink rundown in our final post of 2009.

Meanwhile, here's a very special festive song ...

(For the full sorry tale, click here; the excellent production job was courtesy of these guys)

We're Wrapping, We're Wrapping, We're Wrap, Wrap, Wrapping ...

Christmas is a-comin' ... but what should you be putting under the tree? As a public service, TATTGOC is pleased to present a gift-buying guide to ensure that the curry lover in your life remains rosy-cheeked, sweaty and possibly a bit gassy throughout the holiday season. But first, a quick explanation for this post's title (skip to 1:19 if you want to get straight to the tenderloin):

Okay, on with the spicy stocking fillers!

Saturday Morning Cookery Course
It's only £85 for this three-hour demonstration of the curry basics, but it does take place somewhere down in Surrey. (It's not clear whether this is simply because "Surrey" rhymes with "curry", but we like to think so.) And who is your host? None other than Pat Chapman, celebrity chef and founder of The Curry Club (nope, not that one). Apparently he's a dab hand at mixing up the correct spices for tikka masala, chicken jalfrezi and chickpea curry. And if you manage to go the distance, you get to go home with a pot of Chapman's own sauce.

Shish Mahal Cook Book
In some of his korma-infected dreams, The Tramp fantasises about starting an global evangelical brotherhood akin to Gideons International, but instead of installing free Bibles in hotel rooms, his immaculately-suited, methodical agents would carefully enshrine copies of the Shish Mahal Cook Book in bedside tables worldwide, the better to propogate the pungent magic of Glasgow's most venerable curryhouse. And right now, it's only £5.99 on Amazon!

Ring Of Fire After Curry Wipes
Considering the default setting of curry humour is almost entirely concerned with the following day's bathroom routine, we're generally fairly restrained at TATTGOC when it comes to the lavatorial stuff. (Although admittedly there are usually one or two comments that refer to "the pan" after each of our monthly write-ups.) But just as anyone who plays golf has long had to put up with receiving jokey novelty Christmas gifts lampooning their chosen hobby, so now curry lovers can experience that same mix of heartsinking disappointment and rising irritation when tearing off the brightly coloured paper to uncover something that's essentially worthless. To wit, here's a cylinder of baby wipes with a garish "comedy" label. For you, guv? A mere £2.99 ...

Domestic Tandoori Clay Oven
Now we're getting serious. TATTGOC debated the merits of building a tandoori oven back in June, and for under £300 we could get our grubby mitts on this stainless steel-enclosed clay oven that comes with all kinds of skewers, like more skewers than you can possibly imagine. Just reading the description of how the process works – after marination, the bespiked ingredients are placed vertically in the pre-heated tandoor, where the blasting temperature seals the flavour inside, the clay and charcoal mingle in their earthy, aromatic flavours and the skewer itself helps conduct heat inside the meat – is truly mouthwatering. Worth reading the small print though: "This tandoori oven is for outside use only." Shame. Would have looked nice in the flat.

Have you got any curry-related gift ideas? Let us know in the comments below ...

From Our Foreign Curryspondent ... Dateline: Prague!

(The TATTGOC brotherhood extends around the globe, and we welcome reports of curry expeditions beyond Glasgow – here, co-founder The Tramp is joined by missing-in-action stalwart, and yet to be officially named, curry comrade The Mighty Flemado, as they Czech out the naans in one of Prague's premier curry houses.)

REVIEW: The Mailsi in Prague

Your Foreign Curryspondent: The Tramp

The Date: 11 April 2009

Booking Name: No reservation was made

The Pub Aforehand: Too numerous to remember - there seem to be a lot of photos of us drinking in the main square that day though

In Attendance: The Tramp, The Mighty Flemado

Decor: A surprisingly cosy and modern basement setup with a heavy red and green fixation. Fishtanks embedded into the walls were a nice touch, as were the velvetine paintings.

Expectations: Expectations were running high, some research had been conducted prior to the trip and the ex-pats online were all pointing to the Mailsi as being a strong contender for top curry house in the city.

The Experience: It was a very sad day for The Tramp when The Mighty Flemado took off to seek fame and fortune (well, not exactly fame and fortune but a career boost) on the mean streets of South London. Since he made the move south we've not been able to catch up anywhere near as much as we'd like but when we have then a curry is often on the agenda, whether it's chowing down on some of the Shish Mahal's peerless Hasina Lamb Chops or venturing into one of South London's authentic Sri Lankan bad boy curry houses (one day I'll tell the tale of the terrifying encounter with my curry arch-nemesis, The Everest Curry King, who was introduced to me by Flemado.) So when we decided to catch up, relax and sample a lot of Czech beer, there had to be curry on the menu at some point in the proceedings.

I'd done my research prior to flying out to Prague and had set the curry cannon's sights firmly on The Mailsi Pakistani Restaurant on Lipanska, word on the internet was that it was home to the best curry in Prague and offered an authentic experience familiar to those spoiled by the top notch curry houses we take for granted in the UK.

Arriving on the Thursday we promptly set about drinking our combined weights of the local beer in various drinking establishments - our favourite being U Zlateho Tygra (The Golden Tiger) which served the most amazingly fresh, unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell ever tasted - and by the end of Friday night we decided that Saturday should be a day of culture which we would top off with a visit to the Mailsi. The next day certainly did contain a hefty cultural element but played out like a demented chapter from the mind of Hunter S Thompson. Without going into the details too much the day included an awesome journey on an old school train, a trip to the Sedlec Ossuary (decorated with the skeletons of approximately 60,000 plague victims), a chance to marvel at the state-of-the-art fairground rides currently enthralling Czech children, quite a lot of ice cold lager, a chance encounter with the real Saxman (actually branded The Sax Hoodlum by us) and the baffling sight of a small child taking a rabbit for a walk, on a lead, round the back streets of the old town (that might have been a hallucination brought on by the unpasteurised beer though.)

After a full on day it was finally time to negotiate the tram system and head a bit out of the centre of town in search of The Mailsi... Our first thoughts were whether we were about to fall into some kind of trap - the street didn't look or feel like it should have a restaurant in it but sure enough, just up a little hill, there it was. First impressions were good from the outside and once we stepped inside the restaurant turned out to be a surprisingly snug basement set up with an awesome back lit bar and a heavy red and green vibe for the decor. Unlike our usual curry club venues back home there were a good few tables occupied when we arrived, another good sign - but the crowd didn't stay long. Like a pair of villainous strangers walking into a saloon in an old western we managed to clear the place and by the time we'd looked over the menus and ordered up a beer (Krusovice on tap but Kingfisher available) the place had cleared, leaving us the only customers remaining. The waiter was rather dour to begin with and was presenting himself as a bit of a badass (probably because we'd scared away all the customers.) There didn't appear to be any communication problems and the ordering process was going swimmingly until the waiter pulled off an amazing Derren Brown style Jedi mind trick on The Mighty Flemado. Although trying to order a Karahi, and repeatedly stating so, the waiter somehow used the power of suggestion to get him to agree to a Balti. Although we were both initially confused by the clear mentalist powers of the waiter he lightened up a lot as the meal progressed and by the end of the meal it was agreed that he was generally awesome. So, to the food.

To start with we opted for the traditional plate o' poppadoms with raita, mango chutney and lime pickle. You can't really go wrong there, and sure enough everything was top notch - extra points being awarded for a particularly fine decorative condiment rack. Having polished off the poppadoms our waiter brought over a hotplate to keep our upcoming food warm while we ate - a nice touch but one that might prove dangerous at the more boisterous of the regular curry club outings. Next up was a shared mix pakora platter which proved to be different to the pakora that we're used to back in Glasgow. The pakora served in Mailsi was more akin to the bastard child of the traditional Scottish fritter and Japanese tempura, comprising slices of potato and onion rings coated in a thin spicy batter and deep fried. Although different they were most enjoyable.

For the main course we opted for butter lamb tikka, chicken tikka balti (as opposed to the Karahi that was initially intended), basmati rice and a garlic naan. Both curries were excellent and would have rated highly compared to many of the curries experienced at regular curry club meetings. The naan was a major disappointment, however, and very different to what we are used to calling a naan back in the UK. Although tasty enough, the naan was more of a thin flat bread, somewhere along the lines of a chapati, and certainly not the glorious tandoor puffed treat that we all know and love. Still, that was the only downside to an otherwise great meal.

While we awaited our bill we were treated to a bizarre dancing display by the fish in the display tanks in the restaurant - although that may just have been the Czech lager catching up on us. The waiter had thawed so much that once the bill had been paid he took a photo of us in front of their bar before waving us off into the night. And so, satisfied with our Prague curry experience, we headed off in search of more unpasteurised delights...

Range Of Drinks: Krusovice branded menu, Krusovice on tap, Kingfisher available also

Highlights: High quality main courses, awesome bar, authentically low-key, non-touristy vibe

Lowlights: Disappointing naan

The Verdict: Top quality curry in the land of the most awesome beer ever - what's not to like?

The Damage: 1030 CZK (approximately £35)

They Call Him ... Saxman!

A Bit Spesh

Sometimes, in that far-off, magical fantasyland we call Hollywood, two films about pretty much the same thing come out at pretty much the same thing. Remember summer 1998? When Michael Bay's flag-wavin', world-savin' rockbuster Armageddon beat seven bells out of Deep Impact at the box office?

There are, literally, almost a dozen examples of such synchronicity: A Bug's Life and Antz; Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Observe And Report; Tombstone and Wyatt Earp ...

I could go on.

Mission To Mars and Red Planet; The Illusionist and The Prestige; Dante's Peak and Volcano. Um, did I say Antz already? Hmmm. So why does it happen? Cynics will tell you that scripts get passed around Hollywood all the time, so loads of opportunistic executives are ready to greenlight copycat projects if they think they might turn a buck. But crazy dreamers will tell you that certain stories – powerful, primeval expressions of the eternal lifeforce – are just floating round the ether, waiting to be given form. I think we can all appreciate the relevance of that right now.

When TATTGOC founder member Slumdog Millionaire's Shortbread moved to London earlier this year, one of the first things he did was scope out a nearby curryhouse: the Forest Tandoori, formerly the Anika Tandoori. And since oor ain SMS is nothing if not thorough, he checked the web for reviews to see if this place was up to much. And that's when he discovered Shrub And The Spesh's World Tour Of London ...

It's an awesome curry blog, housed on Blogger, about two nicknamed fellows embarking on an epic quest to ... well, actually, they explain it much better in their blog description:

"We are touring London's curry houses borough by borough. Why don't you join us? (Figuratively that is, not literally: you are not welcome to actually come along)"

As you may have noticed, there are more than a few similarities between TATTGOC and SATSWTOL: Spesh and The Shrub have vowed to tour curry houses within a specific geographical area, they're using Blogger as their delivery platform, they've got cool but opaque nicknames and they're certainly not afraid of being a bit passive-aggressive. (They also seem to have a similarly bickering relationship based on a deep heterosexual love – the entry where Shrub realises The Spesh has managed to miss out Hillingdon on their supposedly alphabetical list of boroughs is particularly entertaining.)

As it turns out, Shrub and The Spesh began their Dickensian odyssey way back in April 2006, so TATTGOC is sort of the Johnny-come-lately to this paratha party but, hand on heart, the Tramps were unaware of the sporadic majesty of SATSWTOL when they painfully birthed their own spicy effort. So I guess we're coming down on the powerful, primeval expression of the eternal lifeforce side of the synchronicity argument.

Since being introduced to the rat-a-tat, no-nonsense reviewing style of SATSWTOL, the Tramps have kept a close eye on the site's curry comings-and-goings (even commenting, on occasion). And since Spesh and The Shrub are poised to finally complete their stated mission after countless months of effort, the Tramps thought it was high time to salute their endeavours. So here are five favourite SATSWTOL posts, and why we liked 'em, in chronological order:

Croydon, Nov 2006 – An instructive tale of the dangers of upselling, and a dodgy metal pub after. Sounds sorta familiar ...

Enfield, Jan 2007 – Ha ha! Cockfosters! Cockfosters ...

Kensington & Chelsea, May 2008 – The Spesh comes dressed as a gentleman farmer in anticipation of their poshest curry house yet.

Richmond-upon-Thames, Apr 2009 – The story of a prick-driven Porsche parked on a river slipway bears retelling ...

Waltham Forest, Sept 2009 – Includes a review of sci-fi shish Planet Popadum, which sounds like the best curryhouse in the history of space and time.

Here's hoping that the borough of Westminster – their last scheduled visit – throws up something suitably epic to conclude their awesome tour of the Currywealth. But would it kill them to take some kind of picture? It would be nice to see these curry heroes in feedia res ...