REVIEW: Our Man In Kabana

Kabana, Seaward Street

The Time: December 16, 8.30pm

Booking Name: Chris Kringle

The Pub Afterward: The Ben Nevis, which was proper hoachin’. There were even some TATTGOC Saffrongettes in the joint – those fair ladies habitually described as “long-suffering”.

In Attendance: Trampy, The Tramp, The Bulldosa, The Duke, Rumpole Of The Balti, Lime Pickle, Rogan Josh Homme, Ravi Peshwari, Rabbie Shankar, Sir Spicy Lover and The Gheezer ... pretty much a'body, in Oor Wullie terms.

Décor: This tucked-away restaurant has a diner feel, and while it’s undoubtedly big enough to house the massed Curry Club, the fact that it’s unlicensed means it would be difficult to herd them in there any time other than January. But the Tramps had a cunning plan ...

Expectations: No Curry Clubber had any first-hand experience, but Kabana is well-regarded by trusted sources, and looked promising enough that one day Trampy and The Bulldosa did a recce round Paisley Road.

Read About The Experience:


Here’s a slice of reality pie: TATTGOC has been trundling onwards long enough now to have had three Christmas parties, each one potentially more deleterious than the last. The first one – and only the second Curry Club ever – took place in notorious late-night lifesaver the Spice Garden, where the service was attentive, even elegant, and the Tramps got their Christmas presents mixed up (in that The Tramp got the lager). The second party was a dizzying Southside adventure in the sophisticated, almost Tron: Legacy-like environs of Shimla Pinks, where the Tramps marshalled a spirit-raising lucky dip and the evening ended on a suitably deranged note with Jalfrezi, TATTGOC’s Man Of The Year, wrestling The Tramp on a deserted railway platform, having previously been snapped pretending his Michael Jackson calendar was actually a King of Pop mask. So how, exactly, does one top that?


For the Tramps, there were just two key requirements for TATTGOXMAS 2010: that the restaurant have a BYOB policy so everyone could help polish off the last two-and-a-bit crates of Kingfisher lager, and also be reasonably close to travel links, the better to tempt Curry Clubbers from Edinburgh. For months, it looked as if the Gurkha Tandoori on Gibson Street would fit the bill nicely – opposite the recently rejuvenated Stravaigin’s, it was close to the subway and apparently allowed patrons to bring their own booze. As November turned into December, however, they noticed that the Gurkha Tandoori never actually seemed to open; a pop-up restaurant with a slow puncture, if you like. As the agreed party date neared, the Tramps grew increasingly agitated, until they remember that during an unguarded moment, The Bulldosa had extended an invitation to host another TATTGOC takeaway extravaganza at his palatial pad. That seemed to solve all the problems in one swell foop ... and meant that the Tramps could consult their shortlist of promising-but-unlicensed restaurants. And there, circled and enthusiastically underlined in red pen was their own Christmas miracle: Kabana.


This well-regarded restaurant and takeaway had been on the TATTGOC watchlist since the Scottish Curry Awards 2009, where Kabana’s Jaffar Hussian won Chef of the Year. The Tramp had also heard consistently good things about the place. After investigating whether the restaurant would deliver as far away as the longest Georgian crescent in Europe – they would, as it turned out – talk then turned to the best way of ordering for 10 or so hungry Curry Clubbers. According to our man in Kabana, it would be no problem rustling up a feast, it would just require ordering a little ahead of time. Because they are so meticulous, the Tramps reached a consensus in the early afternoon, mixing and matching from the various set meal options on the Kabana menu, and attempting to gauge the correct rice/naan equation, even before confirming just how many Clubbers would be in attendance. They attacked this task with the thoughtfulness, quick-thinking and vigour with which their names have since become synonymous.


As it turned out, pretty much the full TATTGOC bhuna turned out – it’s amazing what the promise of some free Kingfisher will do for attendance. As these 11 souls crammed into Bulldosa’s festively decorated kitchen, greetings were exchanged and lager tops were popped. With the food order already logged hours before, it meant a remarkably stress-free build-up for the Tramps compared to their usual mother-hen fussing. But they had another surprise in store. After the runaway success of the Xmas lucky dip last year, The Tramp donned the Santa hat and beard and worked his way methodically round the table, encouraging Clubbers to have a rummage in his sack.


First up was The Duke, who pulled out perhaps the most educational gift of all – a Triceratops skeleton for him to assemble at his leisure. There must have been some Christmas magic in the air, for how else would you explain TATTGOC’s most distinguished member “just happening” to pull out a touching reminder of the timid herbivorous creatures that he gambolled with in the late Cretaceous period, back when he was just in his mid-20s? As The Tramp worked his way around the table, there were tangy sweets for Rumpole Of The Balti, a Classic Cars calendar for Rabbie Shankar and some pretty smashed up Danish biscuits for Ravi Peshwari. The Bulldosa snared the autobiography of Leslie Phillips – inevitable entitled “Hello” – while Trampy pulled out a sexy Christmas apron, that looked considerably less sexy when he put it on. Rogan Josh Homme got a strange upended Santa mug, while The Gheezer lucked out with a rare DVD copy of Snakes On A Train. Sir Spicy Lover also got in on the DVD action with a Chuckle Brothers pirates special. He was clearly overjoyed at the prospect.


The one present that seemed to keep on giving, however, was that selected by Lime Pickle, who’d managed to bagsy a surprisingly varied selection of fake, evidently musketorial moustaches. Always one to seize the moment, Lime Pickle immediately cracked open the pack, and it was like rolling a facial-hair grenade into a Kraut foxhole – suddenly, 'staches were everywhere! It was as if some desperate Hollywood studio had commissioned a live-action version of perennial tile-slapping game Guess Who? And since so many Curry Clubbers have distinctive facial hair in the first place, it also sparked an impromptu game of Spot The Fake 'Stache. And sometimes it was really hard to tell.

Real or fake? The decision ... is yours

Just when it seemed as if no more hilarity could be wrung from wearing a series of itchy fake moustaches, the doorbell rang. Here was the food!


And what a spread it was, ferried to the kitchen in rolling luggage and decanted onto the barely-big-enough table. There were poppadoms to feed an army. Chicken pakora, veg pakora, chicken chaat and seekh kebab to sink a battleship. Bushels of rice. Bassinets of naan (including the thrillingly-named “bullet naan”, with plenty of added chilli). A polystyrene box containing nothing but a range of pickles. There was even a cheeky wee tarka daal, a side dish that Sir Spicy Lover had been trying to convince the Tramps to order for months. And then there were the main dishes themselves: Lahori Chicken Pilau, Seekh Koft Irani Masala, Lamb Saag (mmmm!), Karahi Chicken, Lamb Bhoona, Chicken Tikka Masala and South Indian Chilli Garlic Chicken. An impossible feast, and possibly a match for TATTGOC, even when the whole crew were pre-oiled with Kingfisher. As David Shire’s ominous soundtrack to 2010: The Year We Make Contact filled the kitchen, culinary battle was joined. It wasn’t pretty. But it was delicious.


The Tramps had foolishly thought that a banquet hearty enough to satisfy 11 hungry men would be an unusual request for Kabana, perhaps even “a big deal”. But that same day the sturdy restaurant had fulfilled innumerable orders of impressive magnitude, including feeding 200 folk at a local government department. But the care and attention they'd lavished on the order, which was delivered ahead of time and mostly piping hot, meant that the last round of Kingfisher bottles were raised in tribute to that fine establishment. It had been an emotional evening, especially when thoughts turned to the Curry Clubbers we had lost in the past year – namely Jalfrezi and The Birmingham Wan. But with some new initiates on the horizon, the mood was generally celebratory.

And there was time for just one more lucky dip gift, this one specially for the gracious host and perpetual TATTGOC third wheel, The Bulldosa. Apparently, Christmas wishes can come true ...


Range Of Drinks: All provided by Kingfisher, although there was some extra carryout at the end. Come to think of it, the Tramps should have chipped in for a bottle of brandy so everyone could have a snifter. Maybe next year.

Highlights: A truly mindboggling spread, with the brace of lamb saags being singled out for particular praise.

Lowlights: Not everyone was sold on the “sausage curry” (the Seekh Koft Irani Masala), but it was still pretty much polished off.

The Verdict: A very ho-ho-hospitable experience!

The Damage: £81.60 (tip: £11.40)

SOME OTHER RECENT TATTGOC OUTINGS
The Shenaz, Charing Cross
Madras Palace, Charing Cross
The Viceroy, Paisley Road
Thali, Merchant City

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