Last Chance To Vote For Your Favourite Glasgow Curryhouse Therefore Buttressing The City's Bid For Curry Capital 2011

GLASGOW! IS! CURRY CAPITAL! 2010! But not for much longer. And like a spicy space shuttle launch, the newly resurgent Curry Capital 2011 competition happens in stages. The first bit involves each competing city choosing a four-strong team of restaurants that will represent it – Glasgow's successful squad last year comprised of Balbir's, Koolba, Mother India and Mr Singh's India. As you probably know, Glasgow has done astonishingly well in the stop-start history of the UK-wide competition, winning the Curry Capital crown a record four times (for a reminder of teams past and how they did, check this old TATTGOC post). In fact, you could say – as we often do when updating our CV – that Glasgow has poppadominated.

So selecting the right squad is an important part of the gameplan, and the closing date for voting for your favourite Glasgow curryhouse is tomorrow, Friday August 26. As an added incentive to include your particulars, there's a nationwide prize draw to win a year's supply of lager and curry (or at least, the modular parts of a curry provided by Patak's). So get on over to the official Glasgow Council Curry Capital 2011 webpage to make your voice heard, assuming they're not too busy craning their necks out the window trying to catch a glimpse of Brad Pitt.

After the votes are worked out, the teams representing each city are scheduled to be announced on Monday September 5, and then there's some other business, including National Curry Week running October 9-15, before the overall winner is announced on November 1. That might make it sound like the Curry Capital of 2011 only has a single calendar month to revel in their tastebud-exploding glory, but we're assured that whoever claims the crown will still be the official Curry Capital during the Olympics 2012. So there's that.

If you haven't participated already, the temptation might be to vote tactically, like in Eurovision (Purivision?). But while it's always tempting to nominate the big beasts of Glasgow's curry realm – yer Mother Indias, yer Balbir's, yer Ashokas, fantastic places all – we would like to gently suggest voting with your heart.

Since day one and the impromptu creation of a mildly perverse mission statement, TATTGOC has been about bustin' out of the curry comfort zone and hunting down some unsung places. So what better way to illustrate the breadth of curry culture in Glasgow than to draw attention to the incredible variety of neighbourhood curryhouses that exist? Let's hear it for the Anarkali, or Cafe Salma, or the original Punjabi, or some other awesome place that we haven't even been to yet. Some place just waiting, out there, cooking up the perfect combination of heat and spice to create the ultimate Glasgow curry. Tucked away yet aching to be found ... calling to TATTGOC with some siren saffron song: inviting, inscrutable, intoxicating ...

(That said, floating voters could do worse than put an "X" next to Shish Mahal.)

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Vow Wow Wow: Raisin' A Glass To TATTGOC's Happy Couple(s)!

What a month it's been for TATTGOC-affiliated weddings! First up, Rogan Josh Homme wed his blushing bride after a self-described "whirlwind romance" of 13 years. That's right, Rogan Josh Homme, the man who once modelled as "Naan Solo" in What's The Plural Of Adonis?: The Gentlemen Of Curry Club 18-Month Charity Calendar, is now extremely non-solo. Sorry ladies! The poor-quality cameraphone shot from Trampy, below, can only convey a tiny flavour of the awesomeness of the day, from ceremony to proper Highland hoolie. No curry, sure, but also no shortage of cupcakes ... such delicious cupcakes ...

Then, just this past weekend, there was the long-awaited marriage of The Tramp himself: a two-day outdoors Nuptiapalooza that had been over a year in the planning. Even though the weather threatened to be uncooperative, it all worked out fine on this most special of days. The guestlist was packed with TATTGOC luminaries, including Lime Pickle – who arguably started this whole Curry-Club-members-marrying trend after his own spicy and incredible wedding day. Plus, there was a surprising appearance from Rumpole Of The Balti!

Actually, scratch that, it was an Elvis impersonator ... cuz the original plan was for The Tramp and Mumbai Me A Pony to wed in Vegas. And while there was no actual curry on the menu, the step-father of the bride brought tears to the eyes of both Tramps by mentioning this very blog in his official speech, which was above and beyond the call of duty. Talking of speeches, here's a pic of blushing bride Mumbai Me A Pony listening to her new husband's chat ...

... presumably not the last time she'll have to pretend to laugh at her husband's jokes in a social setting. But still: what an amazing occasion, and the beginning of an exciting new chapter for them both! So even if you're reading this while sitting at your human resources workstation dillydallying over the new departmental spreadsheet, or just apathetically Googling "delicious cupcakes" to take best advantage of Citylink's free wifi on a tedious bus journey, we would ask – NAY, DEMAND – that you should be upstanding RIGHT NOW ... *scrape of chairs, adjustment of comportment* ... for the traditional toast.

To the bride(s) and groom(s)!

... to the bride(s) and groom(s)!

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From Our Foreign Curryspondent ... Dateline: Barcelona!

(The TATTGOC brotherhood extends around the globe, and we welcome reports of curry expeditions beyond Glasgow – in this bulletin, Lord Of The Dansak experiences some of the magic of Bollywood in Barcelona ... it turns out to be a tale of two naans, but is it worth making a song-and-dance over it?)

Restaurante Bollywood by Lord Of The Dansak
The Time: June 13, 1pm

Booking Name: Booking would have required more Spanish than the party could muster. Also more forethought. So let's just pretend it was something vaguely appropriate, like Javier Bardem. Yes, that'll do.

The Pub Aforehand:
For the name alone it was nearly Gran Beer on Gran Via, but in the end there wasn't enough time for a drink before lunch.

In Attendance:
Thali Ho, Lord Of The Dansak.

Expectations: Muted but hopeful. The internet was broadly positive about it.

The Experience:

It is a truism that the Brit abroad, whether he loves the local cuisine or sees it all as funny foreign muck, soon craves traditional British food – and not haggis, fish and chips nor roast beef, but curry. Whether this arises from our much-vaunted love of irony or simply the addictive endorphin release triggered by ingested capsaicin is unclear. But it is also true that curry outposts can be found in the farthest flung of places (see Foreign Curryspondences passim) and large, cosmopolitan cities are almost guaranteed to offer a choice of several.

So the Brit pining for a curry may not need to wait until returning home, and thus it was that – less than 24 hours before their repatriation to Blighty – the Thali Ho could take it no longer and dragged the Lord Of The Dansak to Restaurante Bollywood in Barcelona.

(This, incidentally, was less extreme than the occasion on a previous holiday when she had sought out a curry barely 24 hours after leaving the UK. That was in Lisbon and the resulting curry was fantastic. Thanks to their long history with Goa – and, perhaps, their national cuisine based on salt cod not putting up much of a fight in the flavour stakes – the availability of curry in Portugal is second only to Britain in Europe. There's a top tip you won't get on the Holiday programme.)

After a week of negotiating Spanish menus and taking pot luck with unidentifiable pinchos in bars, everything at Bollywood looked reassuringly familiar. You don't need to dig out the Spanish phrasebook to know what you're getting with channa masala or muttar paneer. Starters included pakoras and samosas, mains included vindaloos and biryanis, and there were thali options. The Lord Of The Dansak was sold.

Inside, the decor is faux-Moghul, there are pictures of "traditional" Indian scenes on the walls and Indian music plays constantly – so reassuringly curryhouse-ish. The tweaks for the Bollywood theme are that the walls are also adorned with posters of Bollywood stars (presumably), and the music comes from TVs showing a loop of Bollywood greatest hits. The parade of colourful, kinetic dance routines was instantly distracting and a frequent conversation-stopper, although it also started a few, trying to answer questions like: "What are they doing on the back of that motorbike?"; "Are those bagpipes I can hear?"; and "Why is she driving a tractor?"

The main giveaway that the restaurant is Spanish not British is the presence of a large rack of red wines and a large chiller cabinet of white wines. Beers are also available, including Cobra and Kingfisher, although the default cerveza is the local Estrella Damm.

Given that the young waiter's first language didn't appear to be Spanish and his English was excellent – and that we were in any case ordering Indian food in Catalonia – it would probably have been appropriate and acceptable just to stick to English. However, a chaotic garble of Spanglish was understood just fine.

Having lived for a week on a diet comprised almost entirely of pig, the Lord Of The Dansak wanted as many vegetables as the restaurant could offer and went straight for the vegetable thali, or "Menu de degustacion vegetariano". The Thali Ho toyed with taking the thali option but couldn't resist the call of a chicken jalfraizi, supplemented by a starter of aloo tikki and a naan. Dishes were offered in "normal" and "spicy" variants, but the chance to find out what a non-spicy curry might taste of was brusquely declined.

The Ho's starter arrived accompanied by three sauces described as "mild" (raita), "spicy" (tamarind) and "hot" (not entirely sure, to be honest). Whatever this last one was, it saw much service as a condiment to add some punch to dishes that were, overall, rather less fiery than the British average. Before the addition of the hot stuff, the aloo tikki was pronounced "pleasant but rather bland".

The Lord's vegetarian thali ... tray chic!
A similar verdict greeted the chicken jalfraizi, which was disappointingly light on the whole chillies that can turn the dish into a spicy Russian roulette. A touch of the special sauce (actually more of a paste, to be honest ... and, come to think of it, rather more than a touch) made it more to her taste.

The vegetable thali received a warmer welcome from Lord Dansak. Although the vegetable biryani was an undistinguished mix of rice and veg, the dal makhni was a savoury delight and the palak paneer was pungently spiced and delicious. A little extra heat from the hot sauce did neither any harm, but they were almost as good unadulterated.

Pakoras were good; a samosa was decent but oddly enormous. And so we come to a tale of two naans: Thali Ho's à la carte naan huge, fluffy and chewable; the Lord Of The Dansak's thali portion thin, tough and rather oily. What does a kitchen do to produce two such different versions of the same order for the same table at the same time? On which naan should they be reviewed?

In the end it makes sense to review Restaurante Bollywood on both, as they reflect the rest of the meal. This is a restaurant capable of fairly good food and fairly average food. Nothing was bad but nothing stood out either. Every dish hovered around "okay".

There are hundreds of similarly mediocre curryhouses around the UK and they're not really worth a second visit. But it's always a pleasant surprise to get a decent curry on the continent, and two punters left Restaurante Bollywood reasonably satisfied.

Range Of Drinks: Lots of reasonably priced Spanish wine; Cobra, Kingfisher and domestic beers; also several whiskies and other spirits.

Highlights: Palak paneer; the special sauce; fascinating procession of big Bollywood numbers on the TVs.

Lowlights: Several dishes skimped on the chillies.

The Verdict:
It's not going to be taking over from El Bulli as Catalonia's foremost culinary attraction, but it still serves a decent curry.

The Damage: €30.55 plus tip for two. 

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Gluttonous Maximus: INDIAN EPIC MEAL TIME

If you haven't heard of Canadian food guerillas Epic Meal Time, imagine Mounties who like to deep-fry Bountys. These are guys who love bacon so much they shoehorn it into every meal, creating grotesquely oversized versions of common dishes with calorie counts in the upper thousands. It's like Delia meets Jackass, with aggressive, ludicrous narration from unsmiling EMT mastermind Harley Morenstein. And while the results are sometimes grotesque, it's difficult not to admire their Brobdingnagian ambition. After Epic Eggroll ("General Tao sauce ... the lovechild of sugary sweetness and fiery spice!") and Tequila Taco Night ("If you don't marinate your meat in a Ziploc bag, you think too highly of yourself!"), it was surely only a matter of time before they turned their attention to curry? Right? And so it was ...

The Tramps have been aware of this spicy edition of Epic Meal Time for a few months, but held off posting it since it begins with Morenstein barging into a Montreal curryhouse, pulling out a (fake) handgun and waving it in the proprietor's face. Even for a comedic video, that seems a bit much. But once things transition to the kitchen, it gets pretty amazing pretty quickly. Here's the VT:

For the record, that's an onion bhaji the size of a shotputt, some kind of weird triple-layer naan pizza creation with butter curry candy bacon, topped with tandoori meat, plus an equally over-stuffed samosa. And for dessert? Gulab jamun with Jack Daniel's syrup, washed down with bacon curry Jack Daniel's shots. Amazing or appalling? You decide.

But here's a final thought from the Tramps: would Epic Meal Time be willing to take on Ayr's notorious Buckfast Korma?

Take korma yourself ... and each other.

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