REVIEW: Neel Diamond

The Neelim, Scotstoun

The Time: May 20, 8.15pm

Booking Name: Neil Marshall

The Pub Aforehand:
McNabb’s Lounge Bar, Dumbarton Road

In Attendance: Trampy, The Tramp, The Duke, The Bulldosa, Rogan Josh Homme, The Gheezer, Ravi Peshwari and the return of Sir Spicy Lover.

Decor:
The Neelim’s spacious dining room has lots of nice features, including evocative prints on the walls and more intimate booths created by dividing walls that resemble the Taj Mahal's dome. Also a cracking minibar.

Expectations:
Not many of the troops were that familiar with Scotstoun, although The Bulldosa did celebrate his 30th birthday at an excellent venue on South Street recently. Online reviews of Neelim were glowing enough to prompt a TATTGOC visit.



The Experience:


“So this is what you start talking about when you’re 30?” So asked The Bulldosa, his handsome features contorted into a Gordon Brown-esque frown as he nursed a Guinness in McNabbs Lounge Bar. Having just entered his third decade on this Earth, TATTGOC’s self-appointed third-in-command and most youthful member was feigning bemusement as various Curry Club elders debated invasive dental surgery and, more enthusiastically, the awesomeness of having your own shed.

Thankfully, the appreciation of curry can be a lifelong passion, and it was this pure, wholesome love of spicy fare that had brought eight currynauts to sunny Scotstoun. After an aborted attempt to get the bus en masse from Partick Travel Interchange – apparently the 9, 42 or 62 would have been fine – it soon became clear all of the crew would be heading westward under their own steam. It fell to The Tramp’s obliging concomitant Mumbai Me A Pony to give Trampy, The Tramp, The Bulldosa and Ravi Peshwari a lift out to McNabbs (her wee Peugeot runabout performed admirably in the circumstances, after the fleshy Tetris required to fit everybody in the back). Passing a premises with CLOSEING DOWN SALE painted crudely in big letters on the front set the right tone of merriment.

McNabbs is situated mere doors down from the Neelim and is clearly all geared up for the World Cup – if the international bunting outside wasn’t a giveaway, inside there were dozens of full-size flags hanging from the ceiling. Like the United Nations it resembled, there was also plenty of debate going on among patrons. The arrival of The Duke, Rogan Josh Homme and the belated return of Sir Spicy Lover kept TATTGOC’s agenda skewed toward growed-up stuff. These included some cracking new pictures of Sir Spicy’s fine young curry cub, a wee boy charged with spearheading the next generation of Curry Club (GOCA Juniors?). There was also, inevitably, some chat about the recent, irritatingly drab Robin Hood movie, its elephantine staging and lumbering pace sucking all the joy from the spry legend of Robbie and his merry men.

But where was The Gheezer? At the Neelim already, it turned out, so the seven-strong crew downed pints and set off for the short amble to the restaurant. Even this stroll was incident-packed, however, with a pack of dolled-up ladies standing outside the Neelim smoking. As we approached, a random bam on the street asked where exactly our municipal seven were headed and, tellingly: were we all brothers? It was with some pride that the crew answered, almost en masse: “We’re off for a curry. And yes, we are all brothers, though not by blood.”

Walking into the Neelim was like walking into the Moulin Rouge – a joyful pandemonium predicated on a 40th birthday party in full knickerbocker swing. Banners proclaiming the landmark date criss-crossed Neelim booths, looking, at first glance, suspiciously like Police Line: Do Not Cross tape. But if there was a felony in progress, it was merely partying with intent, and the infectious bonhomie brought smiles to the faces of the entire crew, grins that grew even wider when they spotted The Gheezer sitting, alone, at the TATTGOC table, his only companion a pint of Kingfisher. It brought back a flood of memories concerning the trip to the other Shish Mahal where, through slipshod organization, The Bulldosa was first to arrive and there was absolutely no-one else in the restaurant.

After somehow forgetting to order poppadoms during the April visit, The Tramp was determined to set things right. The Neelim’s ringbound, wipe-clean menu had a plethora of starter options and while TATTGOC’s first founding father hatched an appropriate strategy, his brother-in-arms Trampy sorted out the drinks. Normally, everyone has the same foamy pint and since The Gheezer had opted for Kingfisher, it made sense to go all in with the King – although there were some who preferred the crisp taste and lower ABV of Tennent’s. A rather inelegant compromise was reached, made all the more confused by the perfect inversion of the order when the pints arrived – no matter, in a short space of time, everyone was clutching a pint in one hand and the menu in the other, weighing up the main course options.

After securing poppadoms, The Tramp ordered up a couple of chef’s platters – those delectable trays of chicken tikka and pakora starters – and, noting the range of pooris and dosas, added a couple of those too. The 40th was winding down by the time the starters arrived, but if the baton of gaiety and raucousness was to be passed to anyone, who better than a massed TATTGOC? With surprising finesse, The Tramp sliced up the mushroom dosa into eight morsels to be passed around; the chicken tikka poori that had landed up at the other end of the table was rather more messily divided.

Discussion turned to the release of wicky-wild-wild west videogame Red Dead Redemption, which had been described by Wired magazine as “Grand Theft Horse” according to Ravi Peshwari. While an accurate description in that “horses” replace “autos” in the bracingly violent, exhiliratingly free-roaming game, surely they could have come up with something snappier? “Rio Grande Theft Auto” was an early contender, while cineaste Rogan Josh Homme favoured “Grand Theft Oater”. As quickly as the rivalry ignited, it came to a definitive stop when one wag – not Trampy, perhaps surprisingly (to him) – suggested “Grand Theft Tonto”. Game over.

Whether by accident or design, the eight main courses ordered up by the Curry Club showcased the range of the Neelim’s menu: Ravi Peswari had gone for a tandoori mixed grill, while both The Gheezer and Rogan Josh Homme had doubled-up with double dosas. Sir Spicy Lover and The Tramp went for Chicken Murgh Korma, looking for an extra kick in their creaminess while Trampy opted for Chicken Tikka Masalander, partly because the list of ingredients were spicily enticing but also because on the page, it looked a bit like “Highlander” and even just invoking the title of Christopher Lambert’s immortal decapitation fable is enough to trigger feelings of pleasure and wellbeing in his brainpan. This wide-ranging order was testament to the capacious tastes of TATTGOC’s currynauts but I don’t mind telling you it plays all merry hell with the rice/naan equation. Ravi’s mixed grill came with its own rice and naan, while the dosas also came with rice. In the end, the Tramps erred on the side of bounteousness, ordering up three bowls of pilau rice and the usual tricolore of naans (plain, garlic, peshwari).

When it arrived, it was undoubtedly a feast. The dosas, in particular, looked extremely tasty, and the naans were some of the biggest TATTGOC had ever seen. The brace of spicy kormas got raves while The Bulldosa finished off every drop of his meal in record time. Ravi’s tandoori mixed grill was a feast for the eyes but something had gone a bit wrong with the lamb – Trampy and The Tramp swooped on Ravi’s dish to claim a morsel for themselves but were unable to eat it because of an odd whiff. Ever the trooper, Ravi focused on the positive and gave the rest of his dish a thumbs up. And then, too soon, it was over, and while there was still a fair bit of naan and rice left over, everyone declared themselves sated. For Sir Spicy Lover, it was a triumphant return to TATTGOC – incredibly it had been six months since he last attended, and he expressed amazement at some of the changes during his sabbatical, notably the luxurious growth of Rogan Josh Homme’s beard and The Bulldosa’s rippling physique. Who knows what will have changed by the next time?

It’s become a TATTGOC tradition to go for one last pint at the end of the night but the ample food – and joining in with “Happy Birthday” – had taken its toll. Perhaps another sign of their encroaching age, the assembled currynauts chose to say their goodbyes outside the Neelim, after staging one last World Cup-referencing photo for the record. Could things get any more old-fashioned? Mibbe. In the cab back home, Trampy and The Tramp could be heard discussing the possibility of starting up a pipesmoking blog – once they reach 50, of course. Little did they know that in a few days, on picking up the Sunday Post, their lives would be changed

forever.

Range Of Drinks: Tennent’s and Kingfisher.

Highlights: That party atmosphere, parachute-sized naans, plenty of food to go around.

Lowlights: Something went seriously wrong with Ravi’s lamb, and arriving in the wake of the big party meant it took a while to get our order in – mind you, we were also holding off for the possible arrival of Rabbie Shankar so no harm, no foul.

The Verdict: A gem of an experience!

The Damage: £165.40 (tip: £18.60)

STOP PRESS: Scenes Of Burly Joy As TATTGOC Nominated For Scottish Curry Award

Crikey! It's not often we update the blog with breaking news but this is one story just too damn big to wait until Thursday ... your friendly neighbourhood blog Trampy and The Tramp's Glasgow Of Curry has been recognised by the venerable Scottish Curry Awards 2010. Trampy, The Tramp and the whole TATTGOC brotherhood have been nominated in the Curry Lover(s) Of The Year category. Yes, the very same category that First Minister Alex Salmond won last year ...

In a prepared statement, the Tramps said: "We are thrilled and humbled to be nominated in the Scottish Curry Awards 2010 and cannae wait to find out what happens on the big night of June 15. Every member of TATTGOC genuinely loves curry, and each other. But mostly curry."

The 2010 nominations were revealed in The Sunday Post, and many of the categories are too close to call. Our fair hometown of Glasgow is represented in the Restaurant Of The Year category by Bakhara, somewhere TATTGOC have yet to try, although we could just about see its "Healthy Indian Cuisine" sign through the window during our visit to Sibbo's Delhi Dhabba. We can, however, fully endorse The Banana Leaf, nominated in the Takeaway Of The Year category. And while we haven't officially visited Chillies West End for the blog, we wish 'em the best of luck for Chef Of The Year. The other big gongs – the Curry King/Queen and Lifetime Achievement award – will be announced on the night. Last year's ceremony was a hoot, even if TATTGOC ambassadors Trampy and The Bulldosa failed to meet Miss Scotland.




















To show your support for the entire TATTGOC crew in this exciting new chapter for Glasgow's spiciest and most pun-laden blog, become our pal on the Facebook ... and you know you can always get in touch by emailing trampyandthetramp@gmail.com

Take that, Terence Stamp.

Aye ready!

Watch With Mutter ... No. 1: Gymkata!

Everyone in the Glasgow of Curry brotherhood loves curry – that's a given. And we know everyone in the Glasgow of Curry brotherhood loves music, which is why The Tramp regularly posts about spicy music tracks that have tickled his radar in Jukebox Puri. But pretty much everyone in the Glasgow of Curry brotherhood loves movies too, so isn't it about time we had a regular posting slot dedicated to cinema?

Yes. Yes it is. But in true TATTGOC style, Watch With Mutter will not linger on the famous or popular. Nay, nay and thrice nay. It will burrow beneath the surface, to throw a spotlight on films that are clearly underappreciated and yet still somehow awesome. You may not have heard of them, but once you watch them you'll wonder how you ever did without. They won't all be action films but ... well, actually, who are we kidding? They're probably all going to be action films. But we guarantee that, in parts, they will be – as the French say – formidable. And if our intention is to set the bar high, then what better film to start off with than ...

Gymkata (1985)

Director: Robert Clouse

Starring: Kurt Thomas, Tetchie Agbayani, Buck Kartalian, Richard Norton

Tagline: The skill of gymnastics, the kill of karate!

Holy jamoley! Both of our paternal Tramps pride themselves on their knowledge of 1970s-90s action cinema ... and yet somehow, this gem passed them by. Gymkata is a film literally built around Kurt Thomas (left) a young, proudly mulleted, extremely talented American gymnast who was denied the chance to vie for a gold medal when the US boycotted the 1980 Olympic Games. Judging by his kinetic performance, Thomas clearly had gymnastic talent to burn. And he deserves some kind of medal for allying himself with this demented movie, where the main plotline thunders toward the proud country of Parmistan, which must be somewhere near Russia since the US government are desperate to establish a "satellite station" there to monitor what the hell is going on with nuclear shenanigans in that region. There is only one small problem. For 900 years, the ultimate ruler of Parmistan, the Khan, has insisted than any visitor to his country compete in the The Game – a deadly version of the assault course from the Krypton Factor, with solemn, flag-wielding ninjas for line judges, and a Chuck Norris-wannabe referee who seems happy to break the rules by embedding arrows in any contestants who seem particularly talented. Because anyone who finishes The Game is granted a "request", which could probably be boiled down to: "Back off ... I am your new king."

Ho boy. If that seems too much to take in, Gymkata wastes no time in setting up the plot. Within the first ten minutes, our hero Jonathan Cabot (Kurt Thomas) – whose dad died while competing in The Game – is recruited by the SIA (Special Intelligence Agency) to penetrate Parmistan. The film essentially kicks off with a full-on, Rocky-style training montage, where various stern-but-fair mentors – including an attractive Parmistan princess who has first-hand knowledge of the Total Wipeout-style gauntlet – gradually mould our lithe, spunky hero into a precision-engineered gymnastic machine who can, eventually, walk up a set of wooden stairs on his hands in such a way that the cinema audience have no choice but to focus on his package. (Gymkata plays annually in a double-feature with Top Gun at the Wish You Were Queer Film Festival in California, and it's easy to see why.)

After a prolonged stop-off in some unnamed country on the coast of the Caspian Sea, which sees Cabot – in a particularly impressive red jumper – fight off various machine-gun-wielding baddies in a scruffy city which features parallel bars as architectural features in shady alleys, we finally make it to Parmistan. Imagine a cross between The Running Man and A Knight's Tale and you'll have some idea of the feudal nature of this savage land, where the Kahn – a guy who looks suspiciously like Mel Brooks (above) – rules with an iron fist, even while the brooding Chuck Norrisalike guy plots to wrest control of the country by marrying the princess. It's testament to the weird power of this film that just the image of a (pre-chalked!) stone-carved pommel horse standing in the middle of a rustic town square can cause a cheer to erupt from the viewer's breast, since they know that some sweet gymnastical combat must only be mere seconds away.

Can our hero Cabot survive the deadly tournament? Will we eventually see the town populated entirely by mad people that all the characters discuss in hushed, fearful tones? Did Robert Clouse also direct Enter The Dragon, despite being deaf? Discover the answers to all these questions and more by experiencing Gymkata yourself. The whole movie has been chopped up and posted on YouTube, and you can begin your journey here. With the awesome training montage being at the start, it's worth sinking a little time into this one ...

What do you think of Gymkata? And what film should be featured in the next Watch With Mutter? Let us know in the comments below ... and don't suggest The Courier Of Death since we reckon that's a definite

Currypedia No 6: Bhut Jolokia ... The Ghost Pepper

Ahoy there curry fans. It's been a while but the time has come once again to dip into our occasional look at the facts and figures of the curry world. Yes, it's the return of Currypedia.

The recent appearance of a Shish Mahal Lamb Madras (at The Commander's 60th) and hearing tales of New York's Phaal Challenge (in Martin Jalfrezi's excellent New York review here, also seen being tackled in this video) got me thinking about just how spicy the world of curry can get. I'm not ashamed to admit that I just can't take the heat anymore but when it comes to my curry compadre Trampy it's a different story - he's chilli daft.

Recently Trampy observed that many of the restaurants TATTGOC visit no longer mention such fierce dishes as Vindaloo on their menus - are the Scots wimping out of their love of fiery curries? Glasgow city centre curryhouse Bombay Blues used to offer up a challenge similar to that of The Brick Lane Curry House mentioned above - any patron that finished their Infernal Tindaloo Double Chilli (once classed as the hottest curry in the UK) became the proud owner of a Hot Curry Challenge certificate. A glance over their current menu shows no sign of the evil feast. But even if super-hot curries are falling out of favour, there is some good news for hardcore spicy lovers. After a bit of research I think I may have found a chilli too hot for even Trampy - the legendary Bhut Jolokia a.k.a The Ghost Chilli.

A native of the northeastern states of India the Bhut Jolokia is officially recognised by Guinness World Records as the hottest chilli in the world, weighing in at a whopping 1,000,000 Scoville units. The Scoville scale (SHU) was devised in the early 20th century by Wilbur Scoville as a measure of the hotness of peppers. Chilli peppers get their trademark heat from the active component capsaicin - the Scolville scale measures the number of times a chilli extract has to be diluted in water to lose its fire. Right at the bottom of the scale, Bell Peppers have an SHU of zero. Moving up through the spice levels we have Jalepenos at around 2500-8000, Bird's Eye chillis at 100,000 while Habeneros and Scotch Bonnet peppers weigh in at a mighty 350,000-500,000. The only things hotter on the spice scale are law enforcement-grade pepper sprays (5,000,000 SHU) and pure capsaicin (described as a hydrophobic, colourless, odourless and crystalline-to-waxy solid at room temperature) which demolishes the competition at an infernal 16,000,000 SHU.

Surely, I hear you scream, this demonic chilli is of no use in the world of curry? Unbelievably several curry recipes exist using it as an ingredient, all clearly the work of madmen. One intrepid currynaut has written up his or her recipe for what is simply called a Bhut Jolokia Curry but felt the need to add four extra Bird's Eye chillies in for good measure. Another maniac, Dyfed Lloyd Evans, has listed his Naga Curry recipe as the hottest chilli dish in the world - not surprising since it contains 12-15 chopped Naga Jolokia (an alternative name for the Bhut Jolokia), and a further five sliced, presumably as a garnish. I think it's reasonably safe to assume that he has completely destroyed his tastebuds - his second hottest recipe (Fiery Chicken Jalfrezi) contains seven Scotch Bonnets, two Habaneros, two Bird's Eye chillies and eight Piri-Piri chillies. If you fancy making one of his brutal concoctions then you can find the recipes here.

I've never tried the Ghost Chilli but may pick up some dried samples for a TATTGOC taste challenge. They're available in the UK from The South Devon Chilli Farm and can be dispatched direct to your door from their website. The question is: will Trampy, or any other TATTGOCers, be able to take the pain? To give you some idea of what's involved, here's a highly entertaining and yet informative video showing the result of someone tasting the Ghost Chilli - the "old man" is Jamie Kocher, CEO of the Waimea Bay Chili Company which grows and sells chilli peppers. Ouch.

video

Putting The "Spar" Into Spartan ...


First The Commander, and now The Bulldosa ... it's birthdays a-go-go at TATTGOC this week. And as Curry Club's most youthful member finally crosses the rubicon into his thirsty 30s, what better tribute than to draw attention to his striking resemblance to Scotland's beefiest export since Sean Connery demanded Auld's Scotch Pies be airlifted to him on the set of Zardoz?

That's right, it's Gerry Butler. But rest assured Bulldosa, 'tis you whom we salute!

REVIEW: A Tale Of One City

(Hey friends! Today is an important day for democracy, so don't forget to vote. And once you've exercised your democratic right, you might also consider nominating Trampy, The Tramp and all of TATTGOC as Curry Lovers Of The Year in the Irn-Bru Scottish Curry Awards 2010. Closing date is May 19. Yes we naan!)

Spice Of The City, nr Central Station

The Time: April 22, 8.30pm

Booking Name: Christopher Nolan

The Pub Aforehand:
Park Lane, Hope Street

In Attendance:
Trampy, The Tramp, The Duke, The Bulldosa, Rogan Josh Homme and The Birmingham Wan.

Decor: While it may be surrounded by crumbly buildings and empty sites awaiting redevelopment, Spice Of The City is spruce and modern. The upstairs looked to have a nice big dining room too but remained in darkness during our visit.

Expectations: No Curry Clubber had commented on this restaurant in the year or so it had been open – but it had always intrigued Trampy ever since he discovered a picture of Nicola Sturgeon cutting a red ribbon to open it. There was a bus in the background advertising Johnny Depp's Public Enemies so Trampy reckoned it must have been during that crazy summer of 2009.

The Experience:

April is the cruellest month, breeding.
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing.
Memory and desire, stirring.
Dull roots with spring rain …

Our old pal Thomas Stearns Eliot there, with the opening lines from his classic feelgood hit of the springtime, The Wasteland. But perhaps TS wasn’t talking total BS, for April 2010 did seem like a cruel month indeed: an Icelandic volcano let out a mighty morphin’ magma belch and promptly reset northern Europe to the days before the Wright Brothers. As the atmospheric crisis lengthened, concerned citizens began to wonder: how could things get worse? The emergence of another airplane-paralysing cloud of ash and particulate? Or having to listen to once-marooned travellers artlessly retell their endless “travel chaos” stories at every dinner party until the end of time? Things looked grim indeed.

It wasn’t much happier round TATTGOC way. After fixating on a relatively new Gibson Street restaurant for their proposed April outing – any excuse to revisit that boulevard’s remarkably storied curryhouse history, which includes lengthy chapters on both the Shish Mahal and Koh-i-Noor – Trampy and The Tramp were dismayed to discover their target had abruptly shut up shop the very week of the planned visit. (It has since reopened as a fairly decent-looking Persian restaurant, bringing the number of Persian eateries within staggering distance of Trampy’s eyrie to a mind-boggling FOUR). With barely 72 hours to go before the scheduled curry visit, our heroes had to think on their feet – never the best. They settled on Spice Of The City, a cosmopolitan curry restaurant and takeaway smack-bang in the middle of the city centre. Due to the late notice, they figured, this probably wasn’t the time to aim for Glasgow’s outer boroughs.

As for the pub aforehand, a multitude of hostelries lie in the shadow of Central Station – enough to easily select a venue that no Curry Clubber had ever entered before. Trampy almost proposed a visit to the Alpen Lodge, an outwardly scruffy Hope Street alehouse with a stylised frontage that evokes Hansel And Gretel, but he stopped short because of his (probably unfounded) fear that it would be more like Hansel And Grendel once inside. In the end, the Monopoly-evoking Park Lane was selected, the revised schedule was transmitted to the masses and – fast-forwarding a bit – Trampy and The Tramp again found themselves in their favourite repose: nursing pints of Tennent’s in a new pub.

Blame it on the wrath of Eyjafjallajokull, but there were a number of call-offs. The Gheezer, for example, was en route toward Birmingham, that city at the very heart of England which endlessly vies for the UK’s curry crown with oor ain Glasgow. Still, within an hour, a tightly-knit team of six curry commandos had assembled: The Duke, able to enlighten everyone about what was actually happening to our airspace; Rogan Josh Homme, who’d had to cancel a first date with Iron Man 2 in London because of the Eyja fallout; the Bulldosa, staring down the barrel of a 30th birthday but looking remarkably composed; and The Birmingham Wan, preparing physically and spiritually for his forthcoming relocation to Leeds. These were men on a mission.

A follow-up phone call to confirm the number of currynauts in attendance threw up another intriguing wrinkle; though Spice Of The City was unlicensed, there was an option to bring booze without even having to worry about corkage. With that in mind, the clubbers travelled in caravan toward a nearby supermarket, forgoing the Marks & Sparks Simply Food in Central Station on the reasonable assumption that it would be foolish to pay £5.49 for a four-pack of non-branded Belgian lager called Etoile A Somesuch. They were right to be skeptical as Somerfield came through with a cracking 8-for-a-fiver deal on Tuborg, which is like Carlsberg’s music-sponsorship-obsessed Mini-Me.

Thus outfitted, the team rocked up at Spice Of The City, ready to chow down. Half of the venue’s ground floor is given over to a standard takeaway layout, albeit one with a nicer counter and more rigorous approach to hygiene than the usual. The restaurant half is functional but equally, appealingly clean. On the night of TATTGOC’s visit, the motley crew were the only a la carte customers (although an older couple did arrive later to sit in the window). A quick scan of the menu – downloadable here – revealed a range of dishes wider than one might first suspect, with some tantalising thali options and a whole array of pooris. One particular item in the starter section had caught The Tramp’s eye – spicy potato fritters. Balancing out the fritters with a portion of mixed pakora, the crew then threw caution to their ties and loosened the wind by requesting a £10 sizzler platter as well. (As Trampy is often heard to suggest when the membership is so manageable, “Why don’t we get something nice?”) The Bulldosa essentially took charge of this first phase of the evening, efficiently ordering up some plain and mango lassis for those who didnae fancy Tuborg much.

As ever with Curry Club, half of the fun of the evening is catching up with the picaresque adventures of the revolving membership, reliving their tight scrapes, amorous apassionatas and career triumphs. It was only partway through hearing the highlights from The Duke and The Tramp’s recent visit to Hamburg that it dawned on the assembled that the starters were taking a fair wee while – but that’s perhaps to be expected when ordering so many sizzling tandoori treats. Ten minutes later, as The Tramp launched into his umpteenth wurst-related anecdote, some currynauts reported feeling faint and dizzy while battling hungriness. As if on cue, the starters descended, helpfully illustrating the takeaway yin and restaurant yang duality at the heart of Spice Of The City. At first glance, the fritters and mixed pakora resembled the scran one might get from Barbecue Kings after a long session in The Doublet – a comparison reinforced by the onion rings among the pakora selection (which, to onion ring enthusiast Trampy was undoubtedly a real plus). The sizzling platter, however, heaved with fantastic chicken tikka, lamb tikka, chicken chaat, seekh kebab and lamb chops. See? Sometimes it is worth getting something nice.

The starter plates were picked clean - even the salad! - and the squad settled down in anticipation of the main courses, discreetly making use of the ground-floor disabled toilet rather than venturing up the stairs to the darkened first floor. The legendary rice/naan equation had been slightly complicated with the option of "regular" or "large" rice, and after some reheated debate, the decision was made to plump for two large dishes: one boiled, one pilau. Thought tempted by the eponymous Spice Of The City naan (at £4, it must have something pretty special going on), the crew eventually agreed on a brace of naans: a peshwari and a garlic. As the Tuborg and lassi flowed, there was a slight air of impatience creeping around the table, perhaps because of the mouthwatering aromas wafting from the kitchen. When they did finally arrive, however, the main courses looked terrific, each served in their own lidded dish, a presentational flourish the Curry Club hasn't experienced in a fair wee while.

A little less conversation, a little more makhani – our brave currynauts plated up their spicy feast and settled into their usual troughing groove. A pungent Bindhi Ghosht with coriander and ladyfingers proved a highlight when it came to swapsies, while an unusual Pista Pasanda overflowed with nutty creaminess. While many currynauts seemed to be taking the opportunity to leave their comfort zone, Trampy had been impelled to return to the promised land of South Indian Chili Garlic chicken – a dish he practically subsisted on while working near the Wee Curry Shop in Cowcaddens. The lamb variant he sampled at Spice Of The City was good enough to compete with that idealised memory, and each tangy mouthful was a tear-inducing trip down memory lane: like one of Proust's transportive Madeleines, but with way more punjabi spices.

Mouths that mere minutes before had been grumbling about the delay were now wordlessly rearranging themselves into the exaggerated vowel shapes of overpowering culinary appreciation. There may indeed have been an agonising wait for the feast to arrive, but to a bearded man, the attending crew gave Spice Of The City an enthusiastic and heartfelt thumbs-up, especially when appraised of the very reasonable final tally. And they weren't even drunk! Just another surprising milestone in the ongoing saaga of TATTGOC ...

Range Of Drinks: Unlicensed but that meant we were able to bring our own bottles of cheapo Tuborg and there were some nice lassis too.

Highlights: Amazing food, fuss-free BYOB and a cheerful stone elephant statue at the top of the stairs.

Lowlights: Not much atmosphere and sloooooow service … but the food was worth it in the end.

The Verdict: An urbane, urban experience!

The Damage: £76.80 (tip: £11.20)

Never Mind The Bus Pass - Just Pass The Madras

Last Thursday was a landmark date for The Tramp's family. The Commander, head of the clan and long-time curry connoisseur, turned 60. Having spent the day applying for his free bus pass and working out which major stores run over-60s discount schemes (B&Q do 10% off on a Wednesday while legendary Scottish cheesemonger Iain Mellis will knock 10% off for senior citz on a Thursday apparently) the family got together for a celebratory dinner. And what better way to toast his birthday than with a takeaway feast from The Commander's favourite Indian restaurant: the one and only Shish Mahal.

Long-term readers will know that while TATTGOC can never officially visit the Shish Mahal (on account of it being arguably the best Indian restaurant in Glasgow, and incredibly well-known) it gets name-checked often on the blog due to the deep affection that both Trampy, The Tramp and many other TATTGOCers, hold for the institution. Well, The Commander has been a die-hard fan right from the start and since his student days in the late 60s the Shish has been a firm favourite. I recall many an exciting childhood trip to the old Shish Mahal on Gibson Street, and even when the family moved to the Borders sometimes The Commander would bring back surprise takeaway to be reheated and devoured after an epic journey down from Glasgow. This special 60th birthday curry was a surprise, and the order was left in The Tramp's safe hands ... So what did we have?

After starting with a healthy round of poppadoms and spiced onions we fired into the Shish's peerless vegetable pakora plus generous, and very firey, portions of The Tramp's firm favourites, Hasina Lamb Chops. For the mains we shared: Chicken Korma, Lamb Korma, Chicken Chasni, Tarka Dhaal, Chicken Bhoona and, for old times sake, The Commander's favourite Shish dish - the sweat-inducingly hot lamb madras. This considerable order was accompanied by massive portions of rice, two plain naan and a peshwari.

All in all, a top-notch meal, as any meal from the Shish always is. That's not all though ... another momentous event occurred during the meal too - The Tramp's young nephew and member of TATTGOC's junior section, The Curry Cubs, had his first taste of the Shish Mahal at the tender age of just 21 months old (the wee man can be spotted in the background, sat next to The Commander in the top photo) beating his dad's record by at least a few months. Family legend has it that The Tramp's brother first tucked into a Shish curry at the tender age of 2 ... The Tramp was apparently a bit older than that.

Happy 60th Birthday Commander - TATTGOC salutes you!

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