Some Pilau Talk With ... Dominik Diamond!

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 Q&A 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. And for the final instalment, we're honoured to present an absolute legend-with-a-capital-L: Dominik Diamond, journalist, broadcaster and author. Now resident in Nova Scotia – where he tills the land with his bare hands, raises a family in the honest Canadian air, composes a trenchant weekly newspaper column and utterly dominates the FM airwaves – Diamond also recently published a memoir, Celtic & Me, which is as raw and uncompromising as you would expect from GamesMaster's eternal godhead. What on earth will he do next? Keep up by visiting his natty official website. Over to Dominik ...

What are some of your favourite Glasgow curryhouses, past or present?
Mother India for special occasions and the Ashoka South Side for your regular Southside dining needs. And Mister Singh's in Charing Cross was THE Beat 106/Xfm curryhouse of choice.

And your favourite Glasgow curry takeaway?
Shahed's on Pollokshaws Road. Danny Singh's at Shawlands Cross. That one that used to be on the corner of Albert Drive and Darnley Street in Pollokshields in 2006. It was what I call "hardcore" – a restaurant downstairs that didn’t allow alcohol and a separate dining room for women. I worried about whether it was right I should frequent a place with segregation like that, but then I remembered that for years Heraghty’s didn’t have a lady’s loo and that never bothered me.

The reason I mention that place in was that for six months my wife and I were utterly addicted to their tandoori lamb chops. They were just the most concentrated meat/spice taste sensation ever. They would batter your tastebuds like the dust at the bottom of packet of dry-roasted peanuts. The problem was that, for some reason, they went STRAIGHT through me. Seriously. The next morning I would have the hot runs. The fact that I STILL carried on ordering and eating them tells you how good they were. Then the place shut down.

Funny that.

What’s your all-time favourite curry dish, the one to which you always return?
Mughlai Chicken. Sure, I will happily gnarl my through a dry tandoori chicken but at heart I’m a big creamy-buttery-sauce-with-almonds kind of guy.

And if you had to choose just one accompaniment, would it be rice or naan?
Peshwari naan for the win. There is NOTHING, I repeat NOTHING that beats the sweet and sour of a very sweet naan where the fruit, the sugar and the almonds spill out onto the main curry plate. Again with the almonds. What’s that about? Was I never given enough almonds as a child?

Could we trouble you for an anecdote – a beloved curry-related memory?
I was in Mister Singh’s one night with Scottish comedy writer and columnist of note Rikki Brown. We had invited our showbiz columnist pal and "Scotland’s prettiest ginger girl" Martel Maxwell along but she called that evening to say she was in bed with the flu. After a mixed tandoori starter none other than the popular musical combo Take That walked in, fresh from a gig at the SECC. I have checked the internet and it would appear this was probably after their Ultimate Tour of 2006 AKA the Welcome Back Take That tour. (No Robbie)

I texted Martel the message: "hahaha Take That in Mister Singh’s, bet you’re REALLY sick now!" Within seven minutes the door burst open and a perfectly made-up Martel Maxwell sashays in wearing a dress that made her look "pretty AND available". After a brief hello to Rikki she batters right onto Take That’s table, gets the quotes, gets the pictures, gets the job DONE. Then sits down and finishes off our food.

Now THAT is how you keep a media career in the pink.

Where’s the most exotic place you've had a curry?
Not a curry as such but I did have spicy pig-blood stew in Pampanga, Philippines during the Crucify Me documentary. I was guest of honour in the village and was sleeping in a hut in the garden of the chief of police. I awoke in the morning to the sound of thudding. I opened the door wearing just my pants to be greeted by the sight of a gaggle of lovely Philippino mums hacking a whole pig to bits with choppers and whatnot, gleefully pulling its intestines out in the baking sun. They cooked the meal in the pig’s blood with spices, hence the name. As guest of honour I had to sit that evening and eat it PLUS ask for seconds. I’m sure over time I would have acquired a taste but back then it was a culinary crucifixion.

Can you actually make a decent curry yourself at home?
Nope. I have still to find a decent recipe. Nigel Slater's are nice but taste nothing like curry shop curries. I can make a cracking Thai curry though.

Can the TATTGOC brotherhood come round for our tea?
Yes, if you bring a takeway from ANY Glasgow curryhouse. There are NO Indian restaurants on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. My wife is a dab hand at Indonesian curries but I swear I have only had one curry in the last 18 months, and that was store-bought in a jar and pish. The life of an immigrant is hard.

If you could enjoy a curry dinner-for-two with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?
Judas Iscariot. To ask him how much of Jesus Christ Superstar is based on fact.

And finally, you've got a new book out called Celtic & Me – could you give us a thali-style taster of what it's about? And what compelled you to write it now?
I approached a publisher about doing a book about my new life in Nova Scotia – the whole back-to-basics stuff on the fledgling farm etc. They said it didn’t feel like the story had an end point yet and instead asked if I wanted to write a book about my life as a Celtic fan. Having turned 40 and emigrated I have closed the box on the first half of my life so I thought – let’s do it. Let’s get all that stuff written down now.

So what’s it about? It is not your standard dull sports book: on this day we went to this match and Henrik wore shorts. It’s about my complicated relationship with Celtic Football Club and the effect that had on my increasingly-complicated life. How you can be a seemingly indestructible guy in your 20s talking a lot of ill-thought-out stuff on live national radio and not giving a fuck but going slightly mad underneath because you know you’re really not built for this stuff. Then you end up living in Glasgow years later with young kids and a very public face and the trouble that causes.

It’s about how depression, insomnia, recreational partying and Sectarianism can nearly kill you, but God and family can step in and save you. But it’s funny rather than whiney. And there are funny stories involving famous people and bands and how Scotland had the greatest music radio station in the history of the world ever and the suits ruined it.

And it’s about kebabs. Lots of kebabs.

Cheers Dominik! And big thanks to all the Legends who gave up their time to talk curry with the Tramps ... we'll always remember that spicy summer of 2010 ...

Tom Shields
Fred MacAulay
Ian Cowie aka Mr Snax
Diner Tec
Roy Beers
Iain Banks
Norman Blake
Tam Cowan


Rogan Josh Homme said...

Is the place on the corner of Albert Drive to which the venerable Mr Diamond is referring the one that used to proudly advertise a downstairs Dinning Area [sic]?

If so, it seems to have changed hands about three times since 2006, but will soon be the site of The Banana Leaf's expansion into the South Side.

The Tramp said...

The expansion of The Banana Leaf into the South Side is good news, be interesting to see what they do with a bigger space - sounds like a definite future mission for the team.