Maany Haappy Returns To Chaat! Magazine: The Curry Lover's Friend, And Proofreader's Accursed Nemesis
Newspaper naysayers may cry "print is dead!" but even in the touchscreen-smearing world of always-online, there's still a voracious appetite for glossy magazines. And many first issues arrive in a blaze of publicity. At the turn of the millennium, Trampy his own bad self can remember attending the glitzy launch bash of an optimistic Scottish rival to Hello! – called, inevitably, Hiya! – that had some of the best free champagne and canapes he ever had the pleasure to pilfer, as well as a disproportionate number of glamorous attendees wearing glittery cowboy hats. Yet after just one issue, Hiya! went bye-ah! But has that got to do with curry? Come with us, into the Reader Zone ...
(Click here to read on, reader ... )
Considering the volatile magazine market, it gives TATTGOC a warm, fuzzy feeling to report that Chaat! – the only UK magazine devoted entirely to curry – is this month celebrating a year in print. It's a notable milestone for the bi-monthly mag, and to mark the occasion Chaat! is taking things to the next level by moving from a subscription model to being right there on the shelves of WH Smith's (Trampy picked up his copy from the Sauchiehall Street branch, and received a bewildering amount of vouchers and money-off receipts at the end of the £3.25 transaction).
Chaat! is published by the British Curry Club, an organisation that offers money off curry at selected curryhouses if you cough up their annual joining fee. The magazine has a much broader remit, though, with a varied selection of interviews, recipes, advice, special offers and a pretty in-depth travel section. Issue 7, the first to be in the proper shops, has an in-depth feature on National Vegetarian Week with seven days of spicy veggie recipes from notable contributors, while the cover star is Shelina Permalloo, recent Masterchef champion with the coiled-spring trophy to prove it. There's also the first of an intriguing three-part series about how to set about establishing your very own curryhouse.
If Chaat! had shut up shop after just one issue, it wouldn't have been a complete disaster as – full disclosure – Trampy and The Tramp's Glasgow of Curry featured in the the first (possibly only) Blogwaatch column. Amazingly, TATTGOC wasn't the most pun-heavy content in that debut issue; there was also a Q&A with curry-loving jokomotive Tim Vine. One design element that has survived since the very start is the unmissable typographical affectation of adding an extra "a" to every headline and subhead wherever possible, tying in with the pretty witty title of the mag. It certainly gives Chaat! a distinct personality, but we can't help but feel for the poor proofreader who has to ignore every synapse in their brain screaming "CRITICAL SPELLING ERROR!" as they're looking over the pages before the presses run.
Chaat! scored some widespread publicity when it announced last July that, according to its exclusive poll, Jalfrezi was the UK's favourite curry dish rather than Tikka Masala, a news story that circled the globe. Their reader-voted "Top Of The Poppadoms" chart still updates with every issue, and Jalfrezi is still sitting pretty at number one. (Dhansak is the highest new entry at three, while poor Tikka Masala has slipped to eighth.) The new distribution deal means the magazine will reach around 20,000 readers, so perhaps there will be some upheaval in the charts in coming months.
But that's all in the future. Right now, the magazine should have a chance to enjoy its cake and candle. As is traditional, TATTGOC would like to salute Chaat!, particularly Dave Jenkins, the incredibly hard-working but extremely affable editor. Here's to maany more yeaars!
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