Rogan Gosh! It's National Curry Week 2010!


We know, we know ... every week is curry week here at TATTGOC. But once a year, the rest of the country gets as excited about the spicy stuff as we do, and that's what they call National Curry Week, which runs November 21-27. What does it mean? It means we'll find out who is the winner of Curry Capital 2010. It means a lot of money raised for The Curry Tree Charitable Fund, a very worthy cause. (It means you won't read about our second anniversary curry until next Thursday.) And it means a whole range of upbeat, curry-related stories in the media. So, once again, it's time to phall your boots at the curry news buffet. Around this time last year, Trampy memorably managed to alienate the founder of National Curry Week by describing their website as "a bit low-rent" – so which person or organisation will be carelessly slighted this year? Place your bets ...


Brits Spend Money On Curry – OFFICIAL

You cannae beat a good poll, and one such handy survey recently revealed that UK citizens spend around £500 on curry each year, covering takeaways, visits to restaurants and ingredients for making meals at home. Over a third of those sampled said they had experienced physical cravings for curry while 23% confessed to getting ''cranky'' if they weren't allowed to chow down on some spicy fare. One in five polled claimed to eat out for a curry at least once a fortnight, with men three times more likely to head for the curryhouse than women. This highly scientific poll also revealed that Lamb Rogan Josh was moving up the league table of Britain's favourite curries – and there was some chat about this on Tuesday's episode of Radio Scotland's MacAulay & Co, with insight from the manager of The Dhabba in Merchant City (the item starts about 40 minutes in). Check it out here, until next Tuesday at least.

You Can Be Sure Of Shell

The big news about National Curry Week 2010 is that it helped revive the Curry Capital competition, a story we've covered previously with our usual churnalistic rigour. The result will be announced on December 8, but there are plenty of other special events taking place across the country for restaurants to have a go at, including the return of the World Poppadom Tower Record Attempt and the Samosa Speed Challenge. When we were checking out the full list of 2009 winners here, one particular result caught our attention. If you've ever heard tell of Rumpole Of The Balti's infamous journey to the farthest reaches of mixology when the stars aligned and the oceans rolled back to herald the birth of his unforgettable Hot Prawn Tsunami, you might appreciate the 2009 runner-up in the Best Signature Dish (Innovative) category, courtesy of Ashwani Kumar of the Mango Lounge in Windsor. It's the rice-crusted King Prawn martini. Rumpole, the scampi is in your court ...


2-For-1 Curry ... If You Hurry

A lager brand that isn't our friends Kingfisher are offering a 2-for-1 offer for the duration of National Curry Week, so long as you buy a bottle of their brew. As far as we can gather, the nearest curryhouses taking part in Glasgow are Papa Gill's in Partick and Bombay Blues down near Central Station. This entire item is probably redundant, however, as it looks as if the offer runs out tonight. Full details here, in any case. But if you have a real hankering for 2-for-1 curry in association with a commercial brand, you could always hitch your wagon to McCoy's, whose vaguely similar offer runs until January 2011 or something.

Meet Some Splicey Lovers


To launch National Curry Week, ten of Britain's most popular regional dishes were given a piquant spin, with some pretty impressive results judging from this promo video. Certainly, the massive Yorkshire Chilli Pepper Pudding looks amazing, and they even tried their hand at puddings, including the Bombay Bakewell Tart, replacing the traditional jam filling with ginger preserve and almonds. If you're interested, here's the recipe for Ha-ghee-s, a pun worthy of TATTGOC itself.

Fancy A Rubi? We've Got The Recipe

While we're open to pretty much any sort of curry-related product for Tastin' With The Tramps, it was a little bit surprising when a representative from Rubicon phoned up to tell us about National Curry Week. Turns out the exotic juice brand – recently acquired by oor ain Barr's – is massive in India, and they'd come up with a Rubicon-related curry recipe to mark the occasion, which we are delighted to reprint in full. Would it be possible to create a curry using Irn-Bru? Perhaps a classic Lamb Bru-na?


Rubicon King Prawn Mango Curry

Serves: 4
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

For the curry
15g butter
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3cm piece root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 Alphonso mango, peeled, pitted and chopped
2 green cardamom pods, crushed
1 cinnamon stick
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp medium chilli powder
500g raw king prawns, thawed if frozen
200ml Rubicon Mango Drink
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

For the cumin-spiced rice
300g basmati rice
25g butter
1 tsp cumin seeds
6 cloves
2 bay leaves, torn into pieces

Method
– Put the rice on to cook in plenty of lightly salted boiling water. It will take about 12 minutes.
– Meanwhile, start the curry. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion for 4-5 minutes, until soft and golden.
– Add the garlic, ginger, mango, cardamom and cinnamon stick and cook gently for another 2-3 minutes. Stir in the turmeric and chilli powder, then add the prawns and Rubicon Mango Drink. Heat until simmering and cook for 5 minutes.
– When the rice is almost cooked, melt the butter in a large frying pan and add the cumin seeds, cloves and bay leaves. Fry gently for 2-3 minutes. Drain the rice thoroughly and add it to the frying pan, stirring to coat in the spice mixture.
– Season the prawns with a little salt and stir in the coriander. Serve with the rice.

Cook’s tip: You can also make the curry with 300g chopped paneer instead of prawns

SOME OTHER RECENT TATTGOC NEWS POSTS
Could Glasgow Be Curry Capital Of Britain ... Again?
Hey! A Message From First Minister Alex Salmond!
And The Award Goes To ...

From Our Foreign Curryspondent ... Dateline: Docklands!

(The TATTGOC brotherhood extends around the globe, and we welcome reports of curry expeditions beyond Glasgow – one Curry Clubber has already reported from Big London, but now Trampy weighs in with his account of an eventful night near Docklands ...)

Rajboy on Commercial Road, London

Your Foreign Curryspondent: Trampy

The Pub Aforehand: The Railway Tavern, Commercial Road

In Attendance: Trampy, The Tramp, Karahi ... CHOP!, Poppadom Preach, Ken Forghee and Ra Lassi

Expectations: With a name like Rajboy, violence seemed assured ... but ended up coming from an unexpected source.


The Experience: Although the rest of the country obviously despises London and everything it stands for, it must be acknowledged that the UK’s soon-to-be-Olympic-tastic capital has a few things going for it. The British Library, for one – genuinely the best place in the city for free wi-fi and meeting-cute with dusky exchange students. It’s also the place that itinerant Curry Clubber Karahi ... CHOP! calls home, when he’s not flying commercial aircraft around Europe. And it’s got the O2 – that benign mutation of the Millennium Dome that boasts the logistical capacity to satisfy the bulging showbiz needs of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.


It was the siren song of the UFC that drew Trampy and The Tramp to Big London last month – you might not think it to look at them, but they know a thing or two about mixed martial arts (watching it, at least). The indefatigable Karahi ... CHOP! and his fragrant bidie-in Poppadom Preach – stars of the very first TATTGOC Foreign Curryspondence all those months ago, if you remember – kindly offered to put a roof over the Tramps’ head, and also insisted on taking them out to a nearby curryhouse whose name evoked a certain Glasgow incorrigibility: the Rajboy. To round out this impromptu TATTGOC meet-up, The Tramp called upon an old pal who had spent many happy years in Glasgow (at one point even sharing a flat with Trampy and yet another Foreign Curryspondent, Martin Jalfrezi, a time characterised by cackling glee when playing underhanded Tekken 3). But would this exile answer the call?


As the Tramps, Karahi and Preach made their way to the Rajboy, the question remained unanswered. What could have happened to the newly-christened Ken Forghee – a nod to Romero, there – and his partner Ra Lassi? Just as our doughty quartet arrived at the restaurant, The Tramp received word of what was holding up his former comrade-in-arms: he’d only gone and been knocked down by a bloody jeep while on his bike, guvnor! This shocking piece of news was followed by an even more astonishing epistle: he was still planning on coming for the curry, if the assembled quartet could just wait a bit! How banged up was his bike? See below for pictorial evidence.


And here's Karahi ... CHOP! checking it out on Ra Lassi's phone while a punch-drunk Ken Forghee clutches a chair to gain sweet relief from his injuries:


That, friends, is the TATTGOC ethos in a slightly dunderheided nutshell: no matter what the circumstances, make your way to the meet-up if at all possible. The Tramps had made jokes in the past about "blooding" new recruits, but this wasn’t quite what they had in mind. Karahi ... CHOP! smoothed things over with staff at the Rajboy, pushing the booking back by an hour or so, and our heroes retired to the nearby Railway Tavern – a characterful, if drafty boozer – to discuss road safety in London and the possible effects of concussion on working out the rice/naan equation.


Not much later, all six of our principals were cosied in at the Rajboy, enjoying oversized bottles of Cobra in Kingfisher glasses, and quizzing Ken Forghee about his brush with death, after which he looked in pretty good nick. For her part, Ra Lassi seemed relatively unfazed so perhaps this sort of thing happened quite a lot. The Rajboy itself was clean, uncluttered and a welcome oasis from the bustle of Commercial Road – the two later arrivals got first dibs on the mixed tandoori starters, possibly because the other four felt guilty for tanning all the poppadoms and delectable dips earlier.


There was a general thumbs-up for the main courses – including a notably tasty butter chicken – but it would not be overstating the fact, in this reporter’s humble estimation, that while everyone was tacitly acknowledging the obvious bravery of Ken Forghee, all eyes now turned to a real hero, Trampy, as he took ownership of his first ever vindaloo (lamb, as it happens). For the past two years of TATTGOC, the blog’s wise, handsome, virile co-founder had been patiently checking out menus all over Glasgow and noted that vindaloo has, for the most part, fallen out of favour – possibly due to connotations of dimwitted masculinity-testing and that awful record by Fat Les.


If there was some whimsical irony in the fact that it had taken a car journey hundreds of miles away from his beloved currytopia of Glasgow for Trampy to take his first step into vindaloo land, it wasn't mentioned. But, as he lifted the luscious, fiery chunks to his mouth with a Richard Gere-esque half-smile, wryly acknowledging some past piece of advice that must have seemed wildly off the mark at the time – (perhaps “never keep referring to yourself in the third person?”) – only to become unexpectedly relevant at this very moment, everything seemed right with the world. 'Twas tasty! And while in Glasgow, the word “radge” instinctively makes you brace yourself for a Sauchiehall St bampot to stick his heid through the fishtank within seconds, in London it appears to represent excellent curry at very reasonable prices. And branded mints!


An evening that had began with Casualty-esque drama had, over the course of a delicious meal, transformed into a convivial reunion. After the obligatory pics outside the Rajboy, Ken Forghee and Ra Lassi disappeared into the night, in search of justice from careless drivers. For their part, Karahi ... CHOP! and Poppadom Preach ushered the Tramps back to their Docklands lair for excellent chat and lemony liqueur. It left the sated, dazed Tramps wondering how UFC 120 could possibly measure up. But that, of course, is another story ...

SOME OTHER RECENT FOREIGN CURRYSPONDENCE
Dateline: Kerala!
Dateline: Cambodia!
Dateline: Colorado!

Tastin’ With The Tramps Crisps Special: McCoy's Vs Golden Wonder


Recently, TATTGOC has been putting a considerable amount of effort into sourcing free curry-related products. For who better to be a spicy focus group than the Curry Lovers Of The Year 2010? That's the thinking behind Tastin' With The Tramps, a taste test with a difference in that ... in that ... actually, it's pretty much what you would expect from a standard taste test. So what's on the menu this time? It's a three-way curry crisp-off, pitting ridged heavyweight McCoy’s against resurgent veteran Golden Wonder. Let's go tastin' with The Tramps (and friends)!

The Products: In the blue corner! McCoy’s Limited Edition Lamb Vindaloo and Chicken Jalfrezi flavours. In the red corner! Golden Wonder Limited Edition Chip Shop Curry (a possible relative to The Nation's Noodle Chip Shop Curry).



The Pitch: As any overstretched journalist constantly forced to write “bogus trend” pieces will tell you, three really is the magic number. If you can find a trio of new products, examples or just anecdotes, you can justify writing any old rubbish. Which brings us, neatly, to curry crisps. A reasonably high-profile McCoy’s 2-for-1 curry promotion has thrust two limited edition spicy flavour varieties onto the shelves of newsagents and garage forecourt shops nationwide, valuable retail space that had already been colonised by a limited edition spicy flavour variety of Golden Wonder, already six months into a major marketing push north of the border (apparently they are “Full-On Flavour Crisps”). The perfect time, then, for a crisp-related spicy smackdown, with a little help from some passing TATTGOC regulars.

The Packaging: For their double-act of super-spicy crisps, McCoy’s have gone for bright, eye-popping colours and fairly obvious cultural signifiers: the Taj Mahal and elephants feature in striking silhouette. A lot of packet real estate is also given over to promoting their “2 Curries For The Price Of 1” offer (there are around 25 participating restaurants in Glasgow, which makes it seem like a pretty good deal, even if the matey-ish tone of the website gets a little wearing).



The Golden Wonder pack is a bit more restrained, although there’s a nice flock wallpaper effect going on. Mysteriously, there's also an STV logo displayed prominently on the front of the pack – this flavour was apparently “voted for by fans of STV” but there’s no real explanation of how it all came about. (A quick Google search reveals that STV viewers were encouraged to vote for their favourite flavour back in March, with ex-Miss Scotland Lois Weatherup, pictured above, backing the winner.)

The Process: If the last Tastin’ With The Tramps was pretty straighforward – just add hot water and wait – this one was even simpler: simply open some crisp packets and put the contents in a few bowls. This did not stop The Tramp from creating some excellent labels so the additional taste test participants – Ravi Peshwari, Rumpole Of The Balti and The Bulldosa – would be able to easily tell which crisp was what. So, after some deliberation and cogitation, what did the assembled Curry Clubbers think?


Ravi Peshwari says: I would have to say the Golden Wonder is a bit of non-runner. I'm digging the McCoy's ridge cut attempt, though. It appears to have really captured the lamb-ishness. Too much McCoy's might be a bit sickly. Both McCoy's flavours are pretty solid but I would probably choose the lamb flavour. And these crisps widnae taste half as good if it wasn't for the Kingfisher ...



Rumpole Of The Balti says: The Golden Wonder flavour is just too bland – too flimsy and flyaway when compared to the McCoy's. The lamb is actually a bit too lamb-y for me. At first, I was like "mmmm". But now I'm like "hmmmm". I would like to know the industrial process that transfers the flavour of lambiness to the disc of potato. It would be quite good to get a thin flatbread, spread it with hummus and then put those lamb crisps on and fold it. But I think I'd rate the Chicken Jalfrezi as my favourite.


The Bulldosa says: For a start, we should be having these crisps with curry sauce. I want the record to show that. I also think the other guys are right, the Golden Wonder flavour is a bit bland but anecdotally I think that's true of most Golden Wonder crisps. Of the McCoy's, probably the lamb one is the best. The signs that The Tramp made are nice but it would be useful to see the packet as well so when I'm half-cut at half four in the morning I know what I should be lunging for in the shop.

Trampy says: I have actually tried the McCoys’ before on a recent long drive to London and I was impressed that they did really taste like curry – so if I was in the shop I’d choose them over the Golden Wonder crisps, although I’m intrigued by the STV endorsement. I would probably favour the Chicken Jalfrezi over the Lamb Vindaloo, as the lamb crisps taste a bit too convincingly lamb-like for my taste. I prefer fantasy curry flavours untethered by reality.


The Tramp says: I also have tried the McCoy's before on that same journey to London and I was very impressed by their exceptional curriness. I thing strong taste is definitely in its favour, so I would go for the lamb. The Golden Wonder seem thin and poorly flavoured in comparison.



The Verdict: The feeble Golden Wonder got a bit of a duffing-up by the hearty McCoy's, although the pungent quality of the lamb appeared to repel as many Curry Clubbers as it attracted – or at least almost as many, since three of the five judges favoured the vindaloo. So the winner, by TKO, is Lamb Vindaloo. Well done McCoy's! Now send us a box of 'em!

(Incidentally, these five grown men didn't assemble just to eat crisps – following the successful taste test, the first ever TATTGOC poker night got off to a tentative start. Who won? Ravi Peshwari, by some considerable margin.)

Do you have a curry-related foodstuff you're launching into the crowded modern marketplace where a recommendation from appropriate enthusiasts might help? If so, drop us an introductory line at trampyandthetramp@gmail.com and see YOUR product featured on ... Tastin' With The Tramps!

PREVIOUSLY DEVOURED
The Nation's Noodle!
Mr Singh's Bangras!

Currypedia No 7: The Samosa

Aloha curry faithful, and welcome back to our now very occasional feature looking into the facts and figures of the curry world – yes, it's the one and only Currypedia.

Since the last edition, back in May of this year, the Tramps have been crowned Curry Lovers Of The Year, chinwagged with the stars in Pilau Talk: The Legends and kept up their heavy-duty curry exploration schedule ... in all the excitement, both Currypedia and The Tramp's Jukebox Puri have been tragically sidelined. The recent discovery that Currypedia No 6: Bhut Jolokia has become one of our most popular posts (probably more down to the hilarious video of an ageing chilli dealer battling the ferocious power of the Ghost Chilli and less to do with my writing skills) has inspired us to kickstart the feature and get it on the road again. And so this week we dive into the delicious world of the samosa.

The samosa is one of the most popular street snacks in India and Pakistan and has become incredibly popular here in the UK too. Most closely resembling a spicy version of the Cornish pasty or the Scottish bridie, the samosa "generally consists of a fried or baked triangular, semi-lunar or tetrahedral pastry shell with a savory filling". The most common filling is vegetarian, consisting of potatoes, peas, spices and sometimes onions. Other popular fillings include lamb mince and chicken and even sweet ingredients too. The tasty treats are traditionally served with any one of a multitude of chutneys, sauces and dips – the choice is yours.

Samosas don't often make an appearance amongst the starters at TATTGOC events, probably due to the difficulty in sharing them out, but while out picking up ingredients in one of the west end's many excellent Asian grocers (The Tramp's favourites being Woodlands Road classic KRK Stores and relative newcomer on the block Garden Fresh Exotics on Park Road) I always like to pick up a cheeky samosa for the walk home. Just the other day, following a homemade curry feast (attended by Trampy, Rumpole Of The Balti, Naanbread Mouskouri and Mumbai Me A Pony), I found myself faced with a large surplus of Aloo Gobi and put my mind to work on a different way of using it up. A quick spot of research quickly led me into the world of the samosa so I thought I'd brush up my pastry skills and see if I could make them myself. So in a Currypedia first, here's how the experiment panned out:

The Tramp's Tetrahedral Treats (makes six)

Pastry Ingredients:

(These are very rough measurements based on a recipe found in the archives of the Too Many Chefs blog – I took a looser approach to quantities based on what looked right.)

100g plain flour
3 tbsp plain yoghurt
1 tbsp oil
A pinch of salt


Method:

Sift the flour into a bowl, mix in the yoghurt, oil and salt and blend into a dough. Add more flour if the mixture is too wet, or a touch of water if it's too dry. Knead the dough on a floured board for five minutes or so then set aside for 20 minutes.

Take a ball of dough a bit bigger than a golf ball and round out in your palms. Squash it down on the floured board and roll out to about 7-8 inches across. According to a recipe over at Mamta's Kitchen the pastry should ideally be rolled to 2-3mm thick – mine was rolled too thinly. Cut the circle in half and you have two samosa templates just waiting to be filled. As mine were a bit thin the traditional folding into a cone then filling while in your hand method didn't work out for me so I worked it on the board. A few spoonfuls of filling – I used my leftover Aloo Gobi but almost any curry would work – were placed in the centre, the edges were then damped with some water and folded over to make the little triangular parcel.

The finished samosas were then deep fried for 2-3 minutes each before being drained and rested on kitchen roll to soak up excess oil.

How did they turn out? Well, aside from a few teething problems with rolling the pastry too thin, they looked like proper samosas. The filling was delicious but could maybe have done with a bit of extra spicing. To accompany them I knocked up a simple dipping sauce with some yoghurt, tomato puree, a pinch of cumin and chilli powder and thinned it down with a splash of water. All in all, very tasty, and very close to the samosas that you buy from the Indian grocers. Definitely worth the effort for a special treat – and next time I think I'll try making them with a more traditional filling.

PREVIOUSLY ON CURRYPEDIA
Currypedia No 6:  Bhut Jolokia ... The Ghost Pepper
Currypedia No 5: Lassi
Currypedia No 4: The Tandoor


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