REVIEW: I Yad A Dream

Yadgar, Govanhill

The Time: January 19, 8pm

Booking Name: Unrequired!

The Pub Aforehand: The Pandora, Victoria Road

In Attendance: Trampy, The Tramp, The Bulldosa, Rogan Josh Homme, Ravi Peshari, Chasni Hawkes and the triumphant return of The Birmingham Wan.

Decor: A no-nonsense diner and takeaway, Yadgar is bright and bustling, but with decent crockery and cutlery your ma wouldn’t turn her nose up at.

Expectations: Possibly absurdly high, because so many people TATTGOC respect have recommended it with great enthusiasm.

The Experience:

Legends. They are only definitively born in their perpetual retelling, which is perhaps why they can seem to pillow and bulge in the process. For who, in their heart of hearts, wants to recount a simply boilerplate tale? Better to add a curlicue here, a grace note there. And in cruel, unsmiling January – that dryest, drabbest of months, especially for those in the Curry Club who vow to forgo the evils of alcohol in the pursuit of some imaginary reboot of themselves – the prospect of becoming swept up in a greater narrative becomes ever more appealing. Call it surrender; casting oneself into a spicy riptide, tugged down into an inky blackness, only to emerge – mewling and reborn – into the light. Just go. Go with the flow ...

(Not had enough of this? Click here to, uh, “cast oneself” ...)

Of course, Glasgow has its fair share of celebrated curryhouses – the Shish, Mother India, the Koh-i-Noor – but there is another strata that truly earns the mark of “legend”. These are the places whispered (or sometimes shouted) about by those in search of the most authentic experience. And among that rare breed that identify themselves as true curryphiles, there is one name whispered (or shouted) above all others:


It’s the curryhouse of choice for Curry Lover of the Year 2008 Mr Snax. And it’s a second home to Curry Lover of the Year 2011 nominee Hector, of Hector’s Curry-Heute. On-the-bone, off-the-bone, curry by the kilo ... for those in search of an authentic spicy fix that doesn’t rely on fixtures and fittings, Yadgar is, according to the lore, Avalon, Shangri-La and Costco, all rolled into one. So after way too long, the Tramps agreed to make it the first outing of 2012 – for what better time to sample the licence-free Yadgar than the one single month that TATTGOC could go booze-free without causing a riot among the membership?

And if this were truly to be an outing for legends, what better way to mark it than with the return of wandering hero The Birmingham Wan? Forever acknowledged in TATTGOC history as “the man who loved Shalimar”, TBW had been AWOL in Leeds for the best part of two years. So as the six-strong January corps of Curry Club assembled in The Pandora for a quick snifter before the scheduled chowdown, it caused a spontaneous round of applause and shouts of “huzzah!” when the Wan returned, just like Gawan the Green Knight of Arthurian legend. For his part, The Birmingham Wan had tales of Leeds curry, but they are perhaps better kept for another time.

Legendary or not, the seating area of Yadgar is not all-encompassing, so a Curry Cadre of seven was most agreeable; upon trekking the hundred yards or so up Calder Street to their destination, the assembled Clubbers arranged themselves around a few tables apparently just in time. For no sooner had they parked their posteriors than the formerly reasonably busy dining area became absolutely jam-packed, with every pew and stall suddenly in demand. Perhaps there is such a thing as the “8pm rush”. There have been many times that TATTGOC’s currynauts were the only explorers in the place. In Yadgar, it felt like the exact opposite.

With no time to lose, the Tramps placed a pre-emptive starter order, rustling up a couple of portions of mixed pakora and a double portion of lamb chops, to ensure that all seven currynauts received at least one each. With no licence, the drinking was restricted to mango lassi, so two jugs were ordered. And in the spirit of telling stories, many tales were spun about TATTGOC’s legendary visit to the Village where, despite having at least a viking longboat’s worth of crew, they struggled to finish the feast simply because every member’s eye had been turned by a nice lassi. When it came to ordering the main courses, the Tramps were initially apprehensive when the youthful waiter didn’t appear to require a notepad or pencil, despite the imminent prospect of seven main dishes and a hastily worked-out rice/naan equation. Especially when the order covered all aspects of the menu, from the daily specials to the grill and the much-praised karahi dishes ...

A three-strong braintrust of currynauts coalesced one idea, an amazing idea: to order the same, traditionally desi-cooked karahi dish. Chasni Hawkes opted for the chicken bhuna. The Birmingham Wan and Trampy took the TATTGOC bit between their teeth and ordered, essentially at random, from the daily specials list, making their selections without even the crutch of descriptive text. And the Tramp, like Odin himself, ordered a tandoori mixed platter to maintain his determined meat intake. For the rice/naan equation, the Tramps went full-bore, perhaps in the absence of booze. Three rice were ordered, as well as three naans: garlic, peshwari and – a new one on the Curry Club – an onion and green chilli variant. Due to the debating-chamber atmosphere, and since the naan order was coming from the far end of the table, there was some harrumphing and menu-waving as it was logged. But nothing to worry about.

As the seven-strong crew devoured the two plates of excellent mixed pakora, and gnawed on the delectable lamb chops, talk turned, inevitably, to the usual TATTGOC topic: movies. Of course, that meant all that Oscar bait was skewered as if to be stuck in a tandoor. Elsewhere, the place was jumping, with necessary rearrangement of the furniture that all the sit-in customers were suitably distributed. To the untrained eye, it looked little more than a melee. Surely that meant the service would be equally chaotic? The Tramps lingered over their mango lassi with foreboding, expecting half-assed results.

O ye of little faith! Within a relatively short time period, every single dish arrived as ordered. Clearly, the young waiter knew his job. There were also such copious amounts of rice and naan that some hasty rearrangement of the group table was required. Each dish is traditionally received with awed silence, but a special gasp was exhaled when the tandoori mixed grill for the Tramp descended, in all its Close Encounters of the Third Kind glory. For Trampy and The Birmingham Wan, their attempt to court Lady Luck had resulted in piquant dishes that were satisfying ... but paled slightly in comparison with the mighty karahi enjoyed by almost half of the assembled Club. But for anyone who felt like their dish wasn’t all it could have been, The Tramp was very generous, dishing out succulent tandoori meat to anyone with a quivering lip. Among the chaos of the order, as hungry diners were barging their way in, an extra plain naan had arrived, but it was immediately welcomed as everyone attempted to scoop up some morsel of the famed karahi or the nihari and haleem dishes.

Yadgar is not a place to stand on ceremony. So despite the fact that TATTGOC was about to experience an epochal shift – with ever-antagonistic lieutenant The Bulldosa relocating to London for at least two years – there was no post-feast descent into sentimentality or melodrama. As the meal, eventually, drew toward its natural conclusion, with every bone nibbled and the best part of four naans munched on, the currynauts still found themselves among a bustling constituency of sit-in diners and patient carry-outers. That is not the correct situation to stand upon a chair and start tinking a glass with your unused spoon. Instead, the six currynauts raised their essentially empty lassi glasses and mouthed a tribute to The Bulldosa, a TATTGOC fixture in so many unavoidable ways. With the return of The Birmingham Wan, it could seem simply like the rawplugging of a new component, swapping like for like. But in a month unexpectedly teeming with stories for the Dreamtime, it was a rare privilege to be present and punch the ticket on the continuing journey of a true legend: The Bulldosa. It almost seems impossible to imagine Curry Club without him ... but we know he will carry it on in his heart. Down in London. Helltown. Purgatory. Etc.

Range Of Drinks: Various lassis and softs, and Kashmiri tea.

Highlights: Impressive service, mighty curries ... this was one legend that lived up to billing.

Lowlights: There was an odd naan out, but who’s complaining?

The Verdict: A legendary experience!

The Damage: £97.50 (tip £14.50)

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Hector said...

Hector congratulates you on your wise choice of venue, hate to say it, but....I told you so!

Anonymous said...

What a great place! It felt authentic, no frills, just great food and a fine lassi too. Can't wait to go back.


Anonymous said...

I went here and thought it was terrible. Seriously, how anyone can compare it to the likes Mother India, Balbirs and The Dhabba ?