Some Pilau Talk With ... Roy Beers!

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 Roy Beers, the veteran journalist and editor who informatively and entertainingly blogs about Glasgow's eating and drinking scene over at Pat's West End Guide (appropriately enough, Mr Beers also has a regular column in The Publican). Over to Roy ...

What are some of your favourite Glasgow curryhouses, past or present?
In the remote past (the 1970s!) – they included the “old” Koh-i-Noor on Gibson Street – the one that famously collapsed into the River Kelvin – and, also on Gibson Street, the Shish Mahal, the Himalaya, the Maharajah and the Shalimar. Now, sadly, there isn’t a single Indian restaurant there (although of course the Shish relocated to just around the corner in Park Road).

Much more recently my favourites include The Den at Dining In at Mother India, and all the Wee Curry Shops. My number one favourite is The Den – I don’t think it gets much better than this.

And your favourite Glasgow curry takeaway?
That’s easy. Mr India’s Balti And Dosa House in Hyndland Street, Partick. It is an unassuming place which doesn’t open during the day or for the pub crowd, and does its stuff to absolute perfection.

What’s your all-time favourite curry dish, the one to which you always return?
Various versions of chicken and spinach (saag) curry.

And if you had to choose just one accompaniment, would it be rice or naan?
I’d much rather have a vegetable paratha than either, or even a tandoori roti – but if forced, it would be boiled rice done “properly”.

Could we trouble you for an anecdote – a beloved curry-related memory?
In 1983 while dining with my wife in The Shalimar, Gibson Street, we were at a mixed table with three strangers – one of whom (I’ve known him ever since) was Brian D Finch, an academic sort of chap who likes the odd pint. He took exception to a couple of English “yahs” two tables away who were decrying the cuisine in loud, sneering voices.

After asking them to desist a couple of times he said: “That’s it!” and flung a chapati at one of them, scoring a direct hit on his face, custard pie-style – and the ricochet of chapati on to the diner’s plate caused a fairly colourful mess. This gent, humiliated and spattered with curry, insisted the police were called, and the management politely asked everyone to remain seated pending their arrival.

Brian (an academic with assorted religion-related degrees) admitted his crime – while claiming provocation by way of mitigation – and was led away by the somewhat bemused officers. They took him home in their van, and although charged with assault (with a chapati) he was subsequently admonished in court. This must be one of Glasgow’s few recorded cases of a chapati being used as an offensive weapon.

Restaurants are generally much less exciting these days.

Where’s the most exotic place you've had a curry?
Nowhere that would really qualify as “exotic”, although I remember an excellent meal in a Sikh restaurant in the Leidseplein in Amsterdam a few years back; but my first ever curry certainly seemed exotic – I was 16, it was the late 70s, and I went to a Bengali restaurant just off Carnaby Street in still-Swinging London: I had a chicken biryani and was completely amazed and entranced by the whole experience.

Can you actually make a decent curry yourself at home?
Yes – but I’m way too lazy most of the time; why bother when “the real thing” is available from places like Banana Leaf and Mr India’s just a few minutes away? However I make a competent daal with channa daal, black cardamoms and loads of garlic – very filling, tasty, and costs next to nothing.

Can the TATTGOC brotherhood come round for our tea?
Hypothetically, yes ... so long as you bring a carryout, don’t mind me smoking at every available opportunity (except when cooking), and of course do all the washing up. Maybe better also get some mango sorbet from Peckham’s on the way here ...

If you could enjoy a curry dinner-for-two with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?
My wife, of course. However assuming she’s elsewhere that night, the smartypants answer is Dharamjit Singh, venerable author of several classic books on Indian cookery and also history. Everything he does is far too laborious for modern tastes (he despises convenience foods and shop-bought preparations), but I learned how to cook rice from him.

And finally, with your distinctive surname, do you have a favoured beverage that you enjoy with your curry?
Drink doesn’t work with Indian food as an accompaniment; numerous attempts have been made to persuade me otherwise, but in vain, and wine is particularly pointless. Any old premium lager would do, if a drink were essential, but nothing too gaseous – if it’s a BYOB shop, a bottle of Tyskie from Poland would be nice to take in.

However I’d rather leave the restaurant not too stuffed and have a couple of pints of good cask ale in the pub about an hour later.

Cheers Roy! And check back in a week's time to see who's next in the curry questionnaire hotseat ...

PREVIOUSLY ON PILAU TALK: THE LEGENDS
Tom Shields
Fred MacAulay
Ian Cowie aka Mr Snax
Diner Tec

REVIEW: Alishan’s Starting To Happen*

Alishan, Battlefield Road

The Time: July 14, 8pm

Booking Name:
George Lucas

The Pub Aforehand:
Clockwork Beer Co, Cathcart Road

In Attendance:
Trampy, Ravi Peshwari, The Gheezer, Rogan Josh Homme, Sir Spicy Lover and special east coast guest All Tomorrow’s Bhajis

Decor:
With a traditional facade and interior, the Alishan immediately seemed like somewhere TATTGOC would feel immediately at ease.

Expectations: No-one in the party had visited this place before but some folk had uncovered a pretty glowing recommendation attributed to The Herald – that the Alishan was one of the five best places to have a curry in Glasgow. No-one was quite sure when that article was published though …

The Experience:


How do you react when someone insists you’re irrevocably set in your ways? The first instinct is to huffily proclaim that you remain as flexible – in physical, emotional and scheduling terms – as you were as a tearaway teen, in those heady days when your breast ached for new experiences and greedily gorged when such encounters presented themselves. Underneath the petrifying crust of daily routine there still burns within you an explosive, improvisational core – and any illusion of staid inflexibility exists only to protect friends and family from your true, devil-may-care nature, such is its vesuvian intensity. For the very same reason, did not Zorro masquerade as feckless nobleman Don Diego de la Vega? ’Tis is a necessary charade; a quotidian skin to better blend with the sadsack norms alongside you in the Five Items Or Less queue. Little do they suspect, as they shuffle forward – clutching their Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Gruyere & Garlic Fougasse while mentally preparing their evening’s iPlayer playlist – that if you were to truly embrace your unpredictable nature, they would be left reeling in the garden of your turbulence. Reeling, I tell you! REELING!

(In other words: TATTGOC’s July outing was on a Wednesday rather than the traditional Thursday.)

Yep, sometimes the Tramps just like to shake things up. And it genuinely seemed like a good idea at the time, although judging by the torrential chuckdown that dampened the entire evening, one or more of the ancient elemental gods were unhappy at the relatively last-minute date change. In their haste to appear virile and vital, our hairy heroes were also perhaps hung by their own retard – the fact that silver-tongued usurper The Bulldosa would be prevented from attending because of a previous engagement may have been merely regrettable, but when news broke that The Tramp himself would be scunnered, it felt more like this particular Wednesday had somehow been cursed. Had TATTGOC – wittingly or, more likely, not – done something to anger Odin himself?

These were the questions that preoccupied Trampy as he sat in the Clockwork Beer Co, a most pleasant southside microbrewery. He was accompanied by All Tomorrow’s Bhajis (ATB), a brother from TATTGOC’s east coast chapter who could almost have sailed over for the evening’s celebration, such was the torrent. Clutching their microbrewed ales had prompted some welcome discussion about BrewDog, those crazy hopheads in Fraserburgh who have apparently made it their mission to turn out mindbending concoctions (most recently that 55% brew that comes packaged in a very surprised-looking woodland animal: Yogi Beer, if you like). They were joined by Ravi Peshwari, fresh from a body- and mind-cleansing trip to Nepal and full of tales of the horizon-broadening experience. The Gheezer and Rogan Josh Homme arrived soon after, expressing similar, squelchy discomfort at the punishing rain. The various pints went down smoothly, but it looked likely to be a moist trek to the restaurant – until Mr Peshwari revealed he’d brought the Ravimobile, which transported our band directly to the fabled Alishan in style and relative comfort.

Sir Spicy Lover was in situ already, parked in alongside a ruddy great fishtank, supping a pint and thumbing through the Alishan’s substantial-looking menu. After the traditional high-fives and secret handshakes, the hardy, non-tardy cadre of Curry Clubbers settled into their default setting of booze and bonhomie, with refreshing pints of Tennent’s on draught and a go-on-then-why-not? double-round of poppadoms and attendant dips. Thinking Sir Spicy might already have the measure of the menu, he was asked to summarise it for everyone else, like a more piquant version of Mark Lawrenson. Sir Spicy confessed that he’d barely scratched the surface of the selection, and it was only when opening the protective covers that the rest of the Clubbers grasped just how expansive the Alishan offerings were (you can get a flavour of the evening menu and the mouthwatering descriptions of dishes on the Alishan website). Perhaps it was just as well that there was a double-dose of poppadoms, as this was clearly going to take a while. Any time not spent mulling over the various options was spent checking out the reassuring décor, a callback to classic curryhouse design with additional evocative art and those two magnificent and well-populated fishtanks. On this midweek evening, TATTGOC had the place pretty much to themselves bar another small table, but a steady stream of customers collecting takeaway suggested that the Alishan dominates its local catchment area.

While the dizzying array of main dishes had slowed things to a crawl as those assembled weighed up their options, the crew reached a reasonably rapid consensus when it came to the starters. As with TATTGOC’s six-strong Rawalpindi visit, it was tacitly decided to push the boat out a little, ordering up a selection of Bombay pakora, a special mixed Tikka (featuring chicken and lamb Tikka, plus a sheikh kebab) and a mushroom chaat. Despite being determined not to repeat June’s disastrous over-ordering of starters – what’s now being called Chilliesgate – Trampy couldn’t quite help himself from ordering another dish of veg pakora, perhaps because he could sense it would take a while to log the main course order, but possibly just because he is inherently greedy. At this relatively early juncture, there was still a dim chance that The Tramp would make an appearance but he crushed those hopes with a stoic but clearly emotionally-charged text message; the only correct way to respond was to send a cameraphone picture of the crew soberly saluting their absent captain. (At least, they were supposed to look sober.)

Back to that epic menu, which was starting to make the Dead Sea Scrolls look like The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Luckily, an attendant waiter was on hand to guide our merry band – The Gheezer wanted to know a bit more about the difference between the balti and karahi selections, which appeared to be cooked in a very similar fashion. After setting The Gheezer straight, the waiter then guided Sir Spicy Lover toward the lamb dish which was right for him. With the main courses locked, it came down to the old rice/naan equation – and at this point, Trampy lost his nerve somewhat. In the ongoing series of Pilau Talk: The Legends Q&As with other notable curry lovers, The Tramp had remarked that very few interviewees seemed that enthusiastic about either rice or naan, preferring a roti or some other sundry. With just six Curry Clubbers present – a presumably manageable control group – perhaps this the perfect moment to mix things up with some paratha, chapati or roti? Sadly, Don Diego won out over Zorro on the night: a garlic naan, a peshwari naan and three pilau rice was the final outcome.

The Tramp is usually responsible for visually documenting TATTGOC outings but in his absence Rogan Josh Homme had brought along a smart-looking camera to capture those candidly magical manly moments (and he did a fantastic job too). As the starters arrived, there were still a few poppadom stragglers left which The Gheezer insisted remain on the table "just in case". The tikka selection was a standout, carved up among the secret six. Ravi Peshwari, who had expressed a particular interest in the Bombay pakora gave the resulting dish a firm thumbs-up, although it did appear that the mint sauce accompaniment promised in the menu got a little lost in the shuffle. Sir Spicy expertly carved up the chaat, which was fairly and evenly distributed around the table, a surprisingly dainty task considering the sheer masculinity on display. With the additional veg pakora on hand to sate any extra appetites, it seemed like TATTGOC had got its starter groove back. Onwards!

As the starter plates were cleared, The Gheezer remained steadfast in his belief that someone might want to return to the one remaining poppadom – and so it sat alone, at the head of the table, a brittle symbol of eternal optimism. The main courses arrived in old-school stainless-steel dishes, which seemed entirely fitting with the Alishan's comforting milieu, and the three pilau rice dishes – each easily bifurcated among the troop – had that vibrant yellow-orange-red tricolour that screams "classic curryhouse", only outshone by a particularly raffish chicken tikka achari that seemed almost to pulse with redness. The generously-proportioned naans were pretty good too. Perhaps it was because so many Clubbers had been humbled by the abundance of June's outing, but these six set about their dinners with an almost Michael Mann-esque level of icy, assured professionalism, truly worthy to be called Curry Lovers of this – or any – year. There would be no need for doggy bags this time, no sir.

There was, however, a general agreement that the Alishan was exactly the sort of place that TATTGOC was founded to experience and, unlike the weather, it had not let the assembled down. After the eminently reasonable bill was settled, the six men arranged themselves to face the rain. As they were filing out, an eagle-eyed Clubber spotted a familiar face on a wall of press clippings and photographs. There was one (no, two!) vintage pictures of Alex Salmond – Scotland’s First Minister and recent TATTGOC correspondent – looking hale and hearty after an Alishan feed. It seemed cosmically appropriate that TATTGOC, proud holders of the Curry Lover(s) of the Year 2010 title, should be following in the historical footsteps of the Curry Lover of the Year 2009. But where would they lead us next? It was something to ponder, as the team hurriedly piled back into the Ravimobile, like a cumin-scented pack of wet spaniels ...

Range Of Drinks: Tennent’s on tap, and a well-stocked selection of spirits.

Highlights: Good service, ambience and décor; generally top-notch food.

Lowlights:
The extensive menu took a while to navigate but we got there in the end.

The Verdict:
A near-overwhelming experience!

The Damage:
£121.10 (tip £12.90)

* In case not everyone’s a Lemonheads fan, here’s what inspired the post title.

Some Pilau Talk With ... Diner Tec!

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 Diner Tec, the culinary investigator who scours Glasgow to track down top tucker, always with the glamorous Moll on his arm. You can read his hard-boiled reviews every Thursday in the Evening Times, so there's still time to pop out and pick up a copy today. Over to Diner Tec ...

What are some of your favourite Glasgow curryhouses, past or present?
The Spice of Life. One of the first Harlequin jobs, formerly "halfway down Robertson Street" before it moved to Argyle Street. I used to go there when I was just a minor Tec. There was a greeter on the door called Sanjay Madhu. Nice bloke. Now he owns the bloody company. Kama Sutra on Sauchiehall Street is also excellent. Current fave is Bukharah at the old Lorne Hotel, Sauchiehall Street. Sheer class and outstanding food.

And your favourite Glasgow curry takeaway?
The Spice of Life. The Moll and I fell in love over the chicken pakora as she was backcombing her eyelashes.

What’s your all-time favourite curry dish, the one to which you always return?
A tried and tested old fave – chicken bhoona, provided the poultry is plutonium-grade perfect and the capsicum and ginger right on the money.

And if you had to choose just one accompaniment, would it be rice or nan?
Naan.

Could we trouble you for an anecdote – a beloved reviewing memory?
The Tec often feels the heat from cheesed-off chefs and raging restaurateurs. And that occasionally means me having to keep the fedora pulled tight over my mugshot and the trenchcoat wrapped round my torso to stay safe from the great unwashed. The alternative is more worrying than a week in the slammer. But that doesn't mean to say that Glasgow's favourite gourmet gumshoe hasn't come close to having his dentures removed ...

On one occasion, I mentioned – purely en passant, you understand – that a chicken chow mein in one Chinese establishment reeked of fish. When the review appeared, a package duly arrived on my desk with a west end postmark. When I unwrapped the paper, I was staring at a salmon that had long shed its mortal. It truly was a real-life Luca Brasi moment ... Diner Tec sleeps with the fishes. (Had it been a parrot, it would, of course, have been a Monty Python moment.)

On another mission at a very glitzy Glasgow joint – I'll spare any blushes by not saying which one – I was just about to tuck into my soup when a fly suddenly decided to use my spoon as a diving board before nestling right in my minestrone. It was a God-given moment: "Waiter, there's a fly in my soup ..." And there really was! I'd dreamt of that moment for years ...

Where’s the most exotic place you've had a curry?
The Maldives minus The Moll. Like heaven on a Sunday.

Can you actually make a decent curry yourself at home?
Only if you like instant korma followed by John Lennon's Instant Karma.

Can the TATTGOC brotherhood come round for our tea?
I wouldn't tikka chance on any of my curries ...

If you could enjoy a curry dinner-for-two with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?
George Harrison. Having dined at the Maharishi's ashram on the banks of the Ganges, he's bound to know a thing or two about being a gourmet gumshoe Indian-style. I would Curry That Weight with a Tikka To Ride or Glass Onion bhaji, along with the Salad of John and Yoko and some Lovely Pitta, natch.

Alternatively, Greta Garbo so that, for once, I can get the occasional word in. She was a silent movie star, wasn't she?

And finally, we're sensing you're something of a Beatles fan ... do you know if the Fab Four ever enjoyed a curry in Glasgow?
The Moll once made eyes at a guy in a curry restaurant that she swore blind was Paul McCartney. Turned out to be another Paul: Paul Lambert, the former Celtic player. Not much difference, really. But the fact fact that he was tucking into a beef curry might have told her it wasn't the veggie-loving former Fab. Same meat ... different gravy.

Thanks Diner Tec! And if the Tramps were to recommend one book about the Beatles in Scotland, it would be this one.

PREVIOUSLY ON PILAU TALK: THE LEGENDS
Tom Shields
Fred MacAulay
Ian Cowie aka Mr Snax

TATTGOC: A Spicy Primer

Ahoy there, and welcome to Trampy and The Tramp's Glasgow of Curry, especially if it's your first time visiting. Our love of curry is undoubtedly pure, but our expression of that love can sometimes be scattershot, so here's a rough guide to the TATTGOC brotherhood and our blog (which is usually updated Thursdays). There's also a long-standing FAQ, and a more recent 60-second video orientation.

In a nutshell, TATTGOC is a group of Glasgow-based currynauts who, every month, head en masse to one of the city's many curryhouses – ideally one that they have never been to before (which precludes places like the Shish Mahal, Mother India or the many Harlequin-operated restaurants). Afterwards, those spicy chieftains Trampy and The Tramp blog about the experience in words and pictures.

If you'd like to hear about the various places we've been to since November 2008, they're all listed in the Curry Houses Visited sidebar on the right (also available in Google Map form). It's not just Glasgow, either – we've got friends from all over the world reporting on their curry experiences in the From Our Foreign Curryspondent section, also tabulated on the right.

We were lucky enough to be crowned Curry Lover(s) Of The Year at the Scottish Curry Awards 2010 and took the opportunity of that fleeting fame to interview a whole range of notable curry lovers in our Pilau Talk: The Legends series, which are all definitely worth a read.

In the weeks when we're not reporting on an official TATTGOC outing or hearing from a Legend, there are other awesome regular posts, including The Tramp's Jukebox Puri, various Currypedia entries and also our original Curry Club Close-Up interview series with various members of the brotherhood. In less serious moments, we also enjoy defying Terence Stamp and creating charity calendars.

And since November 2011, we've been producing a podcast called Keep Calm And Curry On to keep you abreast of everything that's happening in the world of curry culture.

If you want to get in touch, you can leave a comment on any post or drop us an email at trampyandthetramp@gmail.com – and if you'd like to stay current with what TATTGOC does next, you might consider joining our Facebook page. We know from exposure to The Big Payback that James Brown didn't know karahi – instead, he knew ker-azy – but we like to think that if the Godfather of Soul had joined our Facebook he might have been better prepared.

Aye ready,

Trampy and The Tramp

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

Some Pilau Talk With ... Fred MacAulay!

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 Fred MacAulay, the veteran stand-up and broadcaster you'll know from his long-running BBC Radio Scotland morning show. As well as fronting TV shows like McCoist And MacAulay and Life According To Fred, he's also done multiple tours of duty on Have I Got News For You, Mock The Week and Radio 4's The News Quiz. Over to Fred ...

What are some of your favourite curryhouses, past or present?
I'm afraid I've been fairly mainstream with the many Glasgow curryhouses visited over the years. I do remember going to a Gaylords in Birmingham in the late 1970s though! However, I can play a trump card as we visited India last year and had some of the best cooking ever. Our Indian travel agent took us to a restaurant called Dhaba in Delhi which was sort of transport-cafe style, with great food.

At the other end of the scale we had Punjabi Sikandri Lamb at the Rambagh Palace Hotel [named "Best Hotel in the World 2009" by Conde Nast Traveller Magazine], the preparation and cooking of which was described in great length and detail by the chef Jitendra. We also had a number of great delicious treats from Deep Mohan Singh Arneja, the executive chef of the Oberoi chain when we were at the Oberoi Vanyavilas hotel (pictured) in Ranthambhore National Park. He's worked in the UK many times and has been a guest on some of Jamie Oliver's television shows.

And your favourite curryhouse for a takeaway?
I filmed an episode of Life According To Fred in The Spice of Life in 1999 which Sanjay Mahju owned long before he bought the Harlequin group and they were our favoured deliverers for some years after that.

What’s your all-time favourite curry dish, the one to which you always return?
I'd love to think that I'll return to India one day and have a second helping of the lamb I mentioned earlier. If I have it twice, does that make it regular?

And if you had to choose just one accompaniment, would it be rice or naan?
Naan. And sorry to keep harping back to India, but we had one stuffed with a goat's cheese which was THE BEST. The goat was a bit miffed at having to do without its cheese ...

That's a joke.

Where’s the most exotic place you've had a curry?
See all previous answers. Most expensive was Tamarind in London where we've eaten three times on special occasions.

Can you actually make a decent curry yourself at home?
I did a very simple chicken curry with cous cous on Celebrity Masterchef which was criticised as being TOO simple. But the crew scoffed it in preference to the winning dish, so I was pretty pleased.

Can the TATTGOC brotherhood come round for our tea?
No.

If you could enjoy a curry dinner-for-two with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?
Doesn't matter. It's curry ... that'll get all the attention. Does it really matter who you say "Was yours good too?" to? (That could be a punctuation minefield right there ... too?"to? WOW. If that's right I'm claiming a B in Higher English.)

And finally, who are some of your comedy heroes – the spicier the better?
Heroes have been, roughly chronologically: Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, Rik Mayall, Billy Connolly. Currently I think the best stand-ups include Lee Mack and Jason Byrne. Phil Kay used to blow the roofs off venues time after time. Neil Delamere is an outstanding and largely unsung Irish comic. And I have huge respect for all my Scottish contemporaries with whom I've shared an amazing two decades in comedy.

PREVIOUSLY ON PILAU TALK: THE LEGENDS
Tom Shields

Hey! A Message From First Minister Alex Salmond!

If you don't know the story by now, we'll happily tell you again – Trampy and The Tramp (and, by extension, the entire TATTGOC brotherhood) were voted Curry Lover(s) of the Year at the recent Scottish Curry Awards 2010.

But do you remember who was the official Curry Lover of the Year 2009? It was First Minister Alex Salmond! So to mark the symbolic passing of the curry-lovin' torch, we reached out to the big man for a comment. And he very kindly got back to us!

Here's what First Minister Alex Salmond said:

“Congratulations on being recognised for your blog’s contribution to supporting Glasgow’s many and varied curry restaurants in this year’s Scottish Curry Awards.

“The Awards have again helped support
a very worthy charity and I congratulate all those individuals and restaurants who were winners and nominated in this year’s competition.”

First Minister, TATTGOC salutes you!

Some Pilau Talk With ... Tom Shields!

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 a 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. First up is Tom Shields, long-serving Herald diarist and columnist, celebrated bon vivant and, more recently, garlanded author of Fifty Ways To Leave Your Liver, a lush, intoxicating account of journalistic life in 1970s and 1980s Glasgow. Over to Tom ...

What are some of your favourite curryhouses, past or present?
These days it is usually one of the places in which Monir Mohammed is involved: Mother India, Mother India's Café, or one of the Wee Curry shops. My connection and friendship with Monir goes back 20 years to when he served fabulous food at small prices in what looked like a second-hand furniture shop but was actually Mother India in Argyle Street.

Also, any of Balbir Singh Sumal’s establishments. Balbir changed the face of sub-continental cooking when he ran the Ashoka in Elderslie Street back in the 1980s.

And your favourite curry takeaway?
Cabbage Fogath from Banana Leaf. With a lamb biryani and roti on the side

What’s your all-time favourite curry dish, the one to which you always return?
The full bhoona. Lamb.

And if you had to choose just one accompaniment, would it be rice or naan?
Neither. A thick rustic roti just like my granny would have made if she hadn’t been Scottish and cooked ham ribs and cabbage all the time.

Could we trouble you for an anecdote – a beloved curry-related memory?
How Johnny Taylor, doyen of Glasgow artists, invented the takeaway back in the 1960s in the Green Gate. Unable to consume the meal he had ordered due to over-consumption of packets of crisps in the pub beforehand, he asked if he could take his food home. The lamb curry went into an empty pineapple chunks tin, the rice and chapatis into paper bags.

My own favourite memory was going to the Shenaz in the early 1970s and eating an exotic dish they called Indescribables. Now known as pakora.

Where’s the most exotic place you've had a curry?
Mumbai; none of the meals as good as you get in Glasgow.
Paris, restaurant near La Bastille; chef should have been locked up it was so bad.
Barcelona; the chef was from Oldham.
Kuala Lumpur; breakfast or supper is a dish called roti canai. A big daud of flatbread like a chapati but lighter in texture. It comes on a tray (not unlike the TV dinner of yesteryear) with various dips and gravies, daal, coconut chutney and random chicken and fish curries.

Most exotic was as a teenager on a beach near Seamill in Ayrshire. The dish was made from a tin of corned beef, curry powder and raisins with Branston pickle and boil-in-the-bag rice. My repertoire has moved on a bit since then.

Can you actually make a decent curry yourself at home?
Yes, with the help of my friend Monir. He comes around occasionally to give me a cookery lesson. First, he condemns my out-of-date herbs and spices. But, really, I am too fond of curries to eat my own cooking when there is so much great stuff out there.

Can the TATTGOC brotherhood come round for our tea?
Of course. I’ll be dining out but help yourself to anything in the tin cupboard.

If you could enjoy a curry dinner-for-two with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?
Mahatma Gandhi. Because of his wisdom and inspirational teaching. Not because I would get to eat most of the food.

And finally, as a celebrated diarist, have you ever considered keeping a curry journal, the better to keep track of dishes past?
I usually keep a record of my curries down the front of my T-shirt.

Cheers Tom! Who'll be next in the Pilau Talk: The Legends hotseat? Tune in next Thursday to find out ...

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