TATTGOC's Founders Get A Grilling From hungryhouse.co.uk


As any TATTGOC fan will know, Trampy and The Tramp are no strangers to the dark arts of self-promotion – why else would their names feature so prominently in the blog title, ahead of both “Glasgow” and “curry”? But even our burly champions were a little surprised when hungryhouse.co.uk, main sponsors of the Scottish Curry Awards, approached them to take part in a Q-and-A interview for their excellent blog, that could also be a weekly post on TATTGOC itself. Self-indulgent? Sure. Unprecendented? Of course. Entertaining? Hopefully. So here's what happened when Annika from Hungry House got Trampy and The Tramp talking about their favourite topic: themselves. (And, of course, Indian food.)

First off, for those who don't already know, who are the main TATTGOC contributors?

TRAMPY: Well, The Tramp and I pride ourselves on hand-crafting pretty much everything on the blog, but over the past few years we’ve been lucky enough to receive contributions from a range of foreign curryspondents who’ve tirelessly filed curry reports for us from around the world.

THE TRAMP: That’s right, but I’d also like to think that everyone in our Curry Club who comes out on our monthly excursions contributes to the experience, even if it’s just through their general banter. 

What came first the curry or the comradery? Did you meet because you had curry in common, or are you friends from way back?

THE TRAMP: The comradery definitely came first, although we’d both been big curry fans since before we actually met. We’d been good friends for almost a decade before the idea for the blog came about in October 2008. And the ragtag band of merry men that make up the rest of the TATTGOC squad? All good friends of ours who just happen to love curry too.

TRAMPY: They didn’t all know each other in the first place, though. So I think some friendships have come about due to the Curry Club. There have also been a few babies born – Curry Cubs – among the membership during the lifetime of TATTGOC but I suppose that’s unrelated. We can’t really take credit for that.

The Tramp's curry confession
Aside from the monthly reviews, do you have a favourite TATTGOC blog post?

TRAMPY: I like to think our Keep Calm And Curry On podcast is pretty entertaining. But I’ve always enjoyed our first TATTGOC April fool.

THE TRAMP: I must confess, it’s my curry confession.

Do you remember your first curry experience?

TRAMPY: I’m sure I must have had the infamous British curry growing up, the one made with mild curry powder, chicken, sultanas and bananas, but I never really took to it ... I think I’ve determined that my first proper curry restaurant experience was at the King’s Balti in Edinburgh, back in the 1990s when balti was a hot foodie trend new to Scotland. What about you, Tramp?

THE TRAMP: I don’t quite remember it but my first curry experience was in the Shish Mahal at the tender age of two, apparently. My folks are big curry fans and my Dad in particular had been a regular at the Shish since the late 1960s. This is when the restaurant was in its original location round on Gibson Street (now the site of the new Hillhead Primary School). Although I don’t remember the actual first curry, some of my earliest memories in life are of eating there as a nipper.

If you could only eat one curry dish for the rest of your life, which would it be?

THE TRAMP: This might sound controversial but I’d have to go for the Lamb Korma from the Shish Mahal. Before anyone scoffs and pegs me down as an imposter I’d say you simply have to try it – theirs is no ordinary, bog-standard mild and creamy korma. It’s incredibly rich, amazingly spiced and – here’s the kicker – it’s actually quite hot. Quite simply amazing.

TRAMPY: Hmmm. That’s a difficult question, but at one stage in my life I was essentially subsisting on the South Indian Chilli Garlic Chicken from The Wee Curry Shop in Cowcaddens and it didn’t seem to do me any harm.

Some people refuse to date smokers, would you turn someone down if they told you they didn't like curry?

TRAMPY: I think any potential partner would have to accept that curry is already a big part of my life. So they’d probably have to get on board with it.

THE TRAMP: I’m an ex-smoker and my wife was a smoker when I met her but I wasn’t bothered about that. If she hadn’t liked curry it might have been a different story though.

How have you seen the curry culture change/evolve over the years?

TRAMPY: We’re absolutely fascinated with the history of curry, especially in Glasgow where Gibson Street used to be the epicentre of curry culture in the 1960s and 1970s. But I think we’re probably luckier to be living at a time when curry is essentially our national dish, with everything from informal curry cafes serving authentic regional cooking to Indian restaurants pushing for Michelin stars.

THE TRAMP: Trampy is absolutely right there, we’re certainly living in an era where curry is, quite rightly, king. I think that, in Glasgow and Edinburgh at the very least, we’ve seen curryhouses evolve from tamely catering to the old, less adventurous, British tastebuds to now pushing much more authentic and creative dishes. They’ve helped public taste move on from bland korma and tikka masalas. Thankfully, the days of the drunken vindaloo-and-chips mob seem to be behind us.

Who is the most influential curry lover you've met?

TRAMPY: That’s an interesting one. In 2010, we ran a series of Pilau Talk: The Legends Q-and-As with people we considered to be very influential curry lovers, and they were all very interesting. But last year I had the pleasure of interviewing Monir Mohammed, the man behind Mother India, and while we were actually talking about Bollywood movies rather than curry specifically, he was a fascinating fellow. I always think back to that encounter fondly.

THE TRAMP: I’d have to say Monir Mohammed as well. We both enjoyed his company in Mother India one evening and he really is a top guy.

The TATTGOC squad head for Caledonian Brewery
What are the most interesting places your curry adventures have taken you?

THE TRAMP: Unbelievably, and to my great shame, I’ve never actually made it to India or Pakistan to try out the real deal but whenever I do travel abroad I always make sure I sniff out a local curryhouse. In recent years I’ve eaten great curries in Brisbane, Prague, Hamburg and even South Korea.

TRAMPY: I think my absolute, everlasting love of curry was cemented when floating down a river in Kerala, feasting on a fish curry with using ingredients that had just been caught. That was pretty special.

Where's the ultimate place you aim to get to one day in the name of curry?

TRAMPY: Back to India, I think, but travelling together in a proper TATTGOC capacity. The Tramp has a dream about a tuk-tuk ...

THE TRAMP: Definitely India, with the full TATTGOC squad. The rest of the team can meet us there – Trampy and I will be travelling overland from Scotland, by tuk-tuk, sampling what curry is available in every country on the way. Might take a while.

Bradford was crowned UK Curry Capital 2011 with help from a great big bhaji – what could you do to make sure Glasgow wins back the title this year?

TRAMPY: That bhaji was a beast, but I wouldn’t discount the Wolverhampton campaign, which very cleverly used a rejigged Katy Perry pop hit to make their case. I think Glasgow, a famously musical city, could maybe take a leaf out of their book.

THE TRAMP: Trampy is right, I think that a curry-themed hit could go down a storm in the Glasgow campaign ... but who would record it?

Will you campaign next year to regain your title of the Scottish Curry Lover(s) of the Year?

TRAMPY: We were honoured and delighted to win back in 2010 but I think we’ll discreetly retire from any future awards. Curry-loving is a young man’s game ...

THE TRAMP: It certainly is. There are plenty of other worthy candidates out there and we wish them all the best of luck.

Why do you think you are/were worthy of the title?

TRAMPY: The criteria is a little fuzzy, but while I’d never say we were curry experts, I think our long-running, often ridiculous blog demonstrates we have endless enthusiasm. And that we don’t take ourselves too seriously.

THE TRAMP: As Trampy said, we were really honoured, and genuinely surprised, to win the title back in 2010 but we do love curry and I think that comes across fairly strongly on our blog every Thursday. If we succeed in entertaining even one reader with our daft curry banter then it’s worth it.

That’s it. The story of the real men behind the beards. But after being interviewed by Annika, the Tramps couldn’t let her away without asking a couple of curry-related questions in return:

Annika kindly sent this pic. See, she's real!
Thanks for listening to our chat, Annika. If you had to recommend one restaurant to a curry lover who was passing through your London manor, where would you recommend and why?

ANNIKA: I must admit, I feel like giving curry tips to you two is like giving jokes to Billy Connolly, but considering I have the London hometown advantage here, I feel confident recommending Kathmandu Valley, in Wandsworth.

Everyone has their favourite curryhouses, and I'd love to try them all in London, but that would be massive challenge! Also when you find a good one, you tend to stick with it. Kathmandu Valley consistently put 100% into every dish, they're food is always fresh and non-greasy. My personal favourite is the Dhansak – I've not had a better Dhansak anywhere.

Plenty of people all over the UK order curry through Hungry House – do you have any data on which city orders the most?

ANNIKA: London orders by far the most curry in the UK, but then London is also by far the biggest city ... I'd have to spend a bit more time to work out some kind of per-person measure, but I'm 95% sure London takeaway would come out on top out of the BIG cities.

And London has a much higher percentage of under 45s than most of the other cities in the UK, and it's the 18-45s that tend to order Indian takeaways the most often.

And finally, where do you stand on that all-important question: the rice/naan equation? Which do you prefer and how do you make sure you get enough when ordering in a group?

ANNIKA: I am your ultimate condiment queen! If there's any kind of sauce that accompanies a dish, or makes up a dish, I want to consume as much of it as possible. That's half the reason I love Indian food – all that saucy satisfaction. So, for this reason I must go with rice, mainly because I get too full too quickly from naan, and either naan or rice is essential for soaking up all those tasty sauces, if that makes sense.

Also it's easier to keep the peace in a group with rice. You may get people fighting over the last naan, but nobody fights over the last grain of rice! When it comes to rice, everyone gets their own portion, if they run out then they're responsible for getting their bowl topped up.

Sensible words, there, from our interlocuter. Thanks to Annika and Hungry House for getting in touch!


Unknown said...

Keep up the great work lads!

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