Some Pilau Talk With ... Ian Cowie aka Mr Snax!

Everyone in the TATTGOC brotherhood loves curry – we even have an award that says so! But surely we could still learn a thing or two from other prominent curry lovers? And maybe even go round to their house for tea? In the special summer series we're calling Pilau Talk: The Legends, Trampy and The Tramp will be asking well-kent faces to recommend some of their favourite curry haunts and recall some of their most memorable spicy experiences. Next up is Ian Cowie – aka Mr Snax – the man crowned Curry Lover of the Year 2008 at the first ever Scottish Curry Awards. Instantly recognisable in his blazer and bowtie, Mr Snax has been popping up everywhere to wax lyrical about the food he loves, from casting an eye over the Royal Highland Show to snipping the red ribbon at a new Edinburgh curry restaurant. To keep up-to-date with where he's headed next, check out his official website. Over to Mr Snax ...

What are some of your favourite Glasgow curryhouses, past or present?
Past: Shalimar and Shish Mahal, both on Gibson Street.
Present: Yadgar in Govanhill, The Village in Tradeston and I still enjoy the Koh-i-noor at Charing Cross, especially their fish pakora and lamb lyallpuri.

And your favourite curry takeaway?
Yadgar and The Village.

What’s your all-time favourite curry dish, the one to which you always return?
My own variant of Lamb Madras with methi leaves.

And if you had to choose just one accompaniment, would it be rice or naan?
Naan, preferably cheese. I once had a coriander and mint sauce naan, which was fantastic with lamb. Certainly NOT Peshwari!!!!

Could we trouble you for an anecdote – a beloved curry-related memory?
When I first moved back to Edinburgh from Glasgow in 1976, a Punjabi restaurant called Khushi opened up in Broughton Street – it's still there [not to be confused with Khushi's Diner on West Nicholson Street]. The owners soon adopted me as part of the family. If I passed by when the place was closed I was invited in for the staff meal, usually lamb on the bone and after that they would give me a lift home – how’s that for service! At Hogmanay they would come round to my flat and deliver a special festive curry before going out first footing.

Where’s the most exotic place you've had a curry?
Curry for breakfast in Kuala Lumpur at the Commonwealth Games 1998.

Can you actually make a decent curry yourself at home?
Naturally, I bought the Shish Mahal Cook Book in 1982. I later combined the Bhuna Lamb and Lamb Madras recipes and added handfuls of methi leaves and have used that winning combination ever since. I've tried many other curry recipes but nothing touches my Methi Gosht ...

If so, can we all come round for our tea?
I’ll come to you!!!

If you could enjoy a curry dinner-for-two with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?
Robert Winston – Sir, Lord and Professor. Eating a curry in the company of such a genius would be so mindblowing you could leave out the fresh chillies!

And finally, how did it feel to be crowned Curry Lover Of The Year 2008? Did it change your life?
It was a great thrill to get an accolade for doing what I’ve enjoyed sharing with others for over 30 years. But it's all thanks to the wonderful relationships I’ve built up with restaurateurs throughout all that time. It has set me up to carry on with my mission to be a bit of a food guru and develop the Mr Snax brand.

PREVIOUSLY ON PILAU TALK: THE LEGENDS
Tom Shields
Fred MacAulay

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