From Our Foreign Curryspondent: Tikka MaBaws Picks A Fight With "The World's Most Dangerous Vindaloo"

(The TATTGOC brotherhood extends around the globe, and we welcome reports of curry expeditions beyond Glasgow – in this bulletin, chief Foreign Curryspondent Tikka MaBaws files yet another spicy dispatch from his globetrotting journey with the adorable Phall From Grace, as he takes on the world's highest and hottest curry in La Paz. Follow their ongoing adventures at the life-enriching travel/photo blog I Done A Holiday)

"The World's Most Dangerous Vindaloo" – La Paz, Bolivia

Greetings, TATTGOC faithful.

Tikka MaBaws here ...

Physics, or geography, or maybe even the weather, dictates that the higher you climb, the colder the climate becomes. Therefore, despite its relatively tropical latitude, at almost 4000m above sea level, La Paz (which as any semi-competent pub-quizzer will tell you is the world's highest capital) is pretty nippy all year round. It's particularly chanking at night time and Bolivians, or at least spendthrift hostel owners, don't seem to have cottoned-on to the benefits of central heating. And so, on our first night in the city, Phall From Grace and I spent most of the evening in our pre-matrimonial bed in a loveless tug of war to avoid hypothermia.

(Click here to read on ...)

Thankfully/unfortunately, providing it is fed the right fuel, the human body is capable of feeling quite warm, regardless of the elements. And as I later found out, if that fuel happens to be Bolivian Carajo chillies, then it's possible to feel positively roasting in any conditions.
Phall From Grace, Tikka MaBaws, Roberto Bhajio and Signorita Sam O'Sa
Because of the lofty geography, it's possible to do many things in La Paz that can be regarded as “the world's highest ...” Buy the world's highest dried llama foetus at the Witches Market, walk up a flight of stairs and have the world's highest asthma attack and – yes – eat the world's highest curry. But the British owners of The Star Of India aren't content with simply serving the world's highest Indian dish – no, they also claim to serve "the world's most dangerous vindaloo".

With such irresistible bait (not to mention the distinct lack of decent curry we'd found so far in South America) on our second night in La Paz I deputised two fellow travellers as honorary Curry Club members, and headed into The Star.

Having lightly starved ourselves all day, Phall From Grace opted for some vegetable samosas to start, while myself and our new friends Roberto Bhajio and Signorita Sam O'Sa ordered two portions of llama meat kebab. With no Kingfisher available, we followed that with two local Pacena beers for me and Bhajio, and a couple of mango lassies for the, well, lassies. None of what we arrived was as expected. The samosas were enormous, dough-heavy pies, with scarcely a sliver of goo inside. Meanwhile, the meat kebabs came as three wholly unappetising, depressed balls that tasted faintly of watery haggis with the texture of Play Doh. I ate one of the samosas and three of the llama balls anyway – for research, likes.

Then it came to ordering the mains. Roberto Bhajio, something of a curry expert, went for a chicken jalfrezi which he described as his “base choice”, an indicator selection to judge the worth of the curryhouse. Partner Sam O'Sa went for the llama tikka masala, mostly because it was a chance to eat more llama. And Phall From Grace, fan of subtle flavours, stuck with her standard order of a chicken korma. Having swithered about it all day, I decided to kiss my imaginary Curry Club badge, wilfully ignore the fact that I was about to suffer, and go for the infamous vindaloo, even though the disclaimer could not have been more clear about what lay ahead.

Before the beast had arrived, I was already sweating. The local Bolivians may not be a fan of central heating, but those in charge of The Star had no such reservations – that or they simply lined the walls with those evil chillies. Either way, one tap was already aff before the grinning waiter arrived to dump the mound of firey food in front of me. Even in the gloom of the poorly-lit restaurant I could tell that this was a massive amount of scran, but it wasn't until we turned the flash on that I briefly got a glimpse of the hellish road that lay ahead ...

Look at it! Look at the size! The inordinate number of chilli flakes! Hell's teeth – I don't even like spicy food! The first few mouthfuls weren't actually too bad, although I confess I may have forced some down, barely chewing to avoid it spending too long in the vicinity of my tongue. But then a chilli flake hit my uvula like Ivan Drago and I was gasping for my watery Pacena, praying for Rocky to throw in the towel.

However, after the first 15 minutes or so, the spiciness had embedded itself into a deep tissue burn – I had done irreversible damage to myself and that was fine. I was the T-1000, sliding into the molten steel, my dying thumb creaking skywards.

This, though, was just the beginning of my problems as it it soon became apparent that the battle wasn't simply to overcome the spice, nor to salvage my long-lost dignity, but rather a duel of My Gluttony vs The Physical Size Of My Stomach. Why had I eaten the samosa? Why the foul llama balls? Why?

Before long it was like stuffing hay into a bursting scarecrow – each mouthful seemed to fill an organ: goodbye lungs, hello chillies; farewell liver, greetings inferno. With my brow awash with sweat and my nose running like Usain Bolt, the paper napkins on the table were beginning to run low as I tried to mop up after myself.

As I passed the hour mark, with my dinner-mates long finished, my hearing began to tune out. Every part of my being was telling me that this was a terrible idea. Shambling off to the toilet, I knew defeat was close. Unfortunately, despite the preposterous amount of food inside me, I had no desire to relieve myself. Instead I looked into the mirror, which quickly steamed-up with my Smaugian breath. Clearing the condensation, I looked at my pink, weeping eyes: here was the abyss, here was capitulation.

But then I turned from that image.

I turned and I dragged that pink-eyed bastard back to the table. There was more than one fire burning inside me – I picked up the fork and started anew, letting the bodily fluids run freely from my massive red heid.

Almost two hours later it was all over. I sat on the brink of vomiting, holding my new T-shirt in a trembling hand, Phall From Grace somewhere at my side, shaking her head. Two decent folk sat across from me, bamboozled by what had taken place. I apologised for the spectacle, to which Signorita Sam O'Sa sincerely responded: “Oh no no, it was amusing.”

I stumbled home, frequently stopping to indulge The Boak, but just about managing to hold onto my demonic dinner. Phall From Grace, speaking loudly to overcome my temporary deafness, explained that her korma had been “one of the worst curries” she'd ever had; Sam O'Sa had found the llama tough; and Bhajio had damned with the faint praise that it had been “a nice change” from the regular traveller fare.

For me, it was undoubtedly the most physically devastating meal I've ever eaten.

When we finally got home, I collapsed onto the bed, feeling as though I'd somehow given reverse-birth to a space hopper. The heat refused to subside, and I lay there too hot for covers – too hot even for my new T-shirt.

The next day I would discover that the only thing more devastating than eating a novelty-hot curry is the morning that follows eating a novelty-hot curry. But as my vision left me, I swear I could smell something ... Perhaps it was the charred ruins of my innards ...

No: it was VICTORY.

The bill: For the four of us it was almost 400 bolivianos (around £36), which by Bolivian standards is horrendously overpriced, especially for such mediocre fare. The “World's Hottest Vindaloo” was around £4.10 – my heroism ensured the T-shirt was free.

Tikka MaBaws, out.

Dateline: Buenos Aires!
Dateline: Birmingham Backlash!
Dateline: Kerala!
Dateline: Cambodia!


Jane said...

That was hilarious!

Rob said...

Great writing, "Stuffing hay into a bursting scarecrow" and "Giving reverse birth to a Spacehopper". :)

Did it here too, I feel your pain brother.

order food online said...

I’m impressed, I must say. Really rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. Your idea is outstanding; the issue is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I stumbled across this in my search for something relating to this.