From Our Foreign Curryspondent ... Dateline: Edinburgh!


(The TATTGOC brotherhood extends around the globe, and we welcome reports of curry expeditions beyond Glasgow – so when we embarked on our month of Edinburgh coverage, it made sense to start with a missive from this most foreign of lands. And so Trampy teamed up with veteran curryspondents Lord Of The Dansak and Thali Ho for this special report ...)

Khushi's, Edinburgh

This main pic is borrowed from The List, but in fairness they owe me £35

While TATTGOC has forever been focused on Glasgow, there has always been an internationalist flavour to the blog. From the early days of bhuna baby-steps, various Curry Clubbers have downed tools, upped sticks and headed off around the world, dutifully filed detailed culinary reports from where they've ended up. Thus we've featured Foreign Curryspondent reports from all over the globe, from Japan to Bolivia and lots of places inbetween. (The collected curryspondence is tabulated in the menu bar on the right.) We've all enjoyed hearing how curry – or at least our very particular, undoubtedly preconceived idea of curry as it is served in Glasgow – is presented around the world.

Lord Of The Dansak and Rockney-obsessed pal

So when it came to kicking off our month-long examination of Edinburgh curry, it seemed natural to treat it for what it was, philosophically: a foreign country. And when you're a stranger in a strange land, it's a good idea to try and hook up with some people who are even stranger. And so it was that I, Trampy, recruited veteran curryspondents Lord Of The Dansak and Thali Ho – who have already filed from Bath and Barcelona in the past – to help gather my thoughts for this first stab at curryspondence from the wrong end of the M8.

When it came to choosing a fairly representative establishment for Scotland's capital, Khushi's had a lot to recommend it. The restaurant can trace its roots back to 1947, arguably earlier than any Glasgow equivalent, and it has a rich and storied history that includes a couple of hopscotching premises moves and a flippin' massive fire on Victoria Street. Having re-opened, phoenix-like, near the top of Leith Walk (more accurately, at 10 Antigua Street) in the last six months, it also represents a very modern concept of Edinburgh curry, presumably attuned to the demands of the current market.


It must be working too, since the spontaneous decision to pop in for a late-afternoon feed on a Saturday afternoon was met with the apologetic request that we make it quick – the place was fully booked from the next hour onwards. Perhaps it's the restaurant's fine name and reputation, or the generous BYOB with no corkage, or some combination of both, but it seems to be going great guns.

Inside, the decor is a mix of traditional and modern, bright but not too shouty, and the service, while obviously anxious to get our order in early doors, was discreet and pretty hands-off. Dining within such a window means a few sacrifices – not that we would ever dream of forgoing poppadoms – but sometimes it's nice to have to focus your mind on the task at hand, and the waiters were kind enough to bring an ice bucket for our wine while the menu was pored over.


Thali Ho found her interest piqued by the lamb seekh kebab, while Lord Of The Dansak was all about the stuffed tandoori mushrooms. I was tempted by the prospect of crispy chilli squid. When ordering in big groups like the traditional Curry Club, it's always a good idea to get some pakora to share around the table but in the relative calmness of just three people, we felt comfortable ordering our own starters. Not that there wasn't sharing ... I enjoyed the generously spiced kebab, and while my own squid wasn't quite the crispiest, it was tasty and there was plenty of it, certainly enough to share with Thali Ho. The silence from Lord Of The Dansak suggested that the mushrooms were good too.


For the mains, I really pushed out into the realm of the experimental and contemplated the vegetarian options, a first in my official TATTGOC career (perhaps I was influenced by the last curry I had with Thali Ho and Lord Of The Dansak in a vegetarian restaurant in Euston, from which I had nothing but fond memories of ladyfingers). I opted for a brinjal masala of aubergine, while the others went for meatier options. We adopted a man-to-man marking system in terms of sundries, by ordering a garlic naan, a portion of rice and a side dish of tarka dal. If we were on the clock, it felt like we were still comfortably in our time allocation, although the restaurant was certainly filling up. In our section of the dining area, a large group had arrived with corks a-popping, and another table of more than eight had managed to squeeze in between us and the floor-to-ceiling window. Inevitably, it created a convivial atmosphere, and a bit of subtle earwigging indicated that at least a few of the punters were regulars.


The mains arrived in good time, and if the first bite is with the eye, they were beautifully presented, and piping hot. The spooning began, and while there was no shortage of curry the default rice seemed a little small; no matter, because there was enough crisp garlic naan to help scoop everything up, including the wee tarka dal. A dedicated silence descended over our table as we each attended to our dish, only pausing after a few satisfying mouthfuls to offer the curry around. While not someone who would usually order a veggie dish, I was extremely impressed by my aubergine curry, which had a real kick to it. I also managed to sneak quite a lot of Lord Of The Dansak's lamb saag while he was otherwise engaged so it felt like the very best of both worlds.


Thali Ho was giving her chicken the thumbs-up as well, and despite the fact that we'd each had a starter to ourselves and should therefore be slowing down towards the end of our main dishes, the team powered through to an impressively clean-plated finish, that also came in well before our allocated time. This meant that despite the no-nonsense tempo of our meal, we could still linger a wee while and finish of our wine while discussing our tea. No proper TATTGOC Foreign Curryspondence would be complete without some on-the-ground reporting from our valued stringers, so I asked Thali Ho to sum up what she and Lord Of The Dansak made of this Edinburgh curry experience. She didn't disappoint:


With so many great restaurants in Edinburgh my experience of eating there is taking Trampy to whichever joint has recently been awarded a Michelin star. Over the 12 years I've been a regular visitor to the city I've had one meal at the Gurkha Brigade (just a few doors away from Khushi's) and the curry of the day at Tony Singh's Oloroso, so not a lot to compare to.

This doesn't mean that curry doesn't play a large part of my eating life: a recent get-together with Trampy was at Chutneys on London's premier curry lane, Drummond Street, and our local takeaway in Brighton worries if Lord Of The Dansak doesn't order our regular order on our regular day of the week at our regular time of day. 

Comments on Kushi's? It was the kind of curry I like: plenty of fresh tasting spices that obviously didn't come in a jar and the dishes were not swimming in ghee. There were some of the best pickles for poppadoms I've had. In the end, it was a shame it was a rush but great to see the place busy and I twill be booking a table for our next visit.

With Glagow's reputation as a curry capital, and Edinburgh's fab food scene, isn't it time for someone to open a Benares-style Michelin star-able venue? Based on how busy Kushi's was during our visit it would be sure to be a hit. From what Trampy tells me, the family behind Khushi's are attempting to raise the bar with their other restaurant Mithas. I'm sure he'll offer to take us there next time ...

And that was that. "We can't go without the money shot," added Thali Ho, which struck the rest of the table dumb ... at no point during almost four years of predominately male curry-chomping had any ribald member of the Curry Club ever suggested that the traditional pic of the bill stacked with dirty tenners – remember, the one adamantium rule of TATTGOC is "no credit cards" – had anyone suggested it be called "the money shot". Truly, we were breaking new ground. And it also gave us a chance to grab a pic of Thali Ho's amazing nails, which somehow appeared to match everything.


And how did the boys feel after their Khushi's experience?


A promising start to our ongoing Edinburgh adventure!

NEXT WEEK ON TATTGOC'S AUGUST EDINBURGH EXTRAVAGANZA: Notable faces and foodies recommend their favourite capital curryhouses ... join us August 9!

SOME PREVIOUS FOREIGN CURRYSPONDENCE
Dateline: Brisbane!
Dateline: Barcelona!
Dateline: Hong Kong!
Tikka MaBaws Versus "The World's Most Dangerous Vindaloo"
Dateline: Buenos Aires!
Dateline: Birmingham Backlash!
Dateline: Kerala!
Dateline: Cambodia!
Dateline: Colorado!
Dateline: Nepal!

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