A bit of a curry on: Our Curry Capital TATTGOC Interview
We’re entering the final stretch of this year’s Curry Capital of Britain competition so we thought it was about time that we checked in with those enigmatic Scottish ‘currynauts’ over at the Trampy and the Tramp’s Glasgow of Curry (TATTGOC) blog to hear their thoughts on this year’s campaign and to hear what they’ve been up to (curry-wise) since we last spoke.
But first of all, we asked them to profile the four restaurants that make up Glasgow’s Curry Capital 2013 team. The Tramps asked us to point out that they do not have any official involvement with the city’s bid – they are merely burly, beardy cheerleaders for Glasgow.
This year’s Glasgow line-up:
KoolBa, 109 Candleriggs, Glasgow, G1 1NP
TRAMPY: Our slightly vague TATTGOC rules mean that we generally seek out new or tucked-away curryhouses, so we don’t tend to head to Glasgow restaurants that are long-established, and KoolBa in the Merchant City definitely falls into that category. The Tramp and I did get to go there recently as part of the judging process of the Scottish Curry Awards 2013 though, and it was very impressive. Lots of craft beers!
THE TRAMP: KoolBa is a popular restaurant with a good atmosphere, and it feels like the sort of place where there are a lot of regulars. The food was also really good. I have to say, the manager Mr Haddad is a total evangelist when it came to the Curry Capital competition, he knows that winning back the title would be a real boon for Glasgow, and he and the staff are totally committed to doing whatever they can. It’s great to have KoolBa on the team.
Mister Singh’s India, 149 Elderslie Street, Glasgow, G3 7JR
THE TRAMP: Now this is a place that we have actually been, officially, as part of the TATTGOC blog, because we were looking for somewhere we knew would be great for our most recent Christmas outing. Mister Singh’s is the home of haggis pakora and a special chicken curry pie sold at Scottish football stadiums – they’re experimental, in a fun way, and as well as serving up amazing food they also do a lot of charitable work.
TRAMPY: The Tramp and I were back at Mister Singh’s recently to experience their pakora masterclass and the place was looking great after being recently refurbished. The staff wear kilts, which gives tourists a bit of a thrill, and the cooking and service are of a very high standard. No wonder it’s seen as a Glasgow mainstay.
Mother India, 28 Westminster Terrace, Glasgow, G3 7RU
TRAMPY: I’ve had some memorable nights in Mother India, particularly for people who are leaving. It almost seems cruel that one of their last meals in Glasgow should be at on the very best curryhouses. I’ve also seen Highlander star James Cosmo in there a lot – I think he’s a regular. I haven’t plucked up the courage to say “there can be only naan!” to him yet though.
THE TRAMP: Mother India owner Monir Mohammed is a legend in Glasgow, and Mother India is a huge part of the city’s curry scene. Remember the slow-cooked lamb raan we had there? I think if the Curry Capital judges tried that dish, that would pretty much seal the deal.
Ashoka Southside, 268 Clarkston Road, Glasgow, G44 3EA
TRAMPY: I haven’t made it as far as the Ashoka Southside but my buddies south of the Clyde tell me it’s a solid, pretty traditional curryhouse. I’ve certainly enjoyed some good meals in other outlets that are part of the Glasgow Ashoka family of restaurants.
THE TRAMP: Ashoka Southside is an interesting addition to the team – Ashoka is a very popular Glasgow chain but I’ve not been to the one on the Southside one although I understand it’s been successful there for 20 years. It shows the geographical range in Glasgow. In some cities, all the best curryhouses are concentrated in one area. In Glasgow, there are all over the place.
So guys, we’re close to the public voting deadline and cities across the UK are putting the final touches to their competition dossiers, but what’s YOUR take on the strength of this year’s competing cities?
TRAMPY: Because we cover curry news each week in our blog, we keep quite a close eye on what other cities are up to. I think Bradford seem to have another solid bid this year, but it’s Wolverhampton – again – who are really going for it in terms of pushing it on social media and drumming up votes.
THE TRAMP: We know that we’re top but we always need to keep an eye on Wolverhampton. They are slippery underdogs and they are hungry for it. They are literally hungry like the wolf.
This week we saw Mushtaqs make the news for creating 50 new jobs at their restaurant in Hamilton. How vital do you think therefore the Indian food industry is to the British economy?
TRAMPY: It’s a huge part of our culture and a huge part of the economy. I can’t imagine Scotland, or the UK, without curryhouses. Cynically, you can tell how important it is to the economy by how many politicians turn up at the various awards ceremonies, and it seems like a lot.
THE TRAMP: It’s absolutely vital.
Do you think Glasgow has what it takes to win back the Curry Capital crown from Bradford and take the title for a record 5th time?
THE TRAMP: Of course we have what it takes! That’s almost an offensive question! I’ve no doubt that the competition will be close, but the standard of Indian food in Glasgow is phenomenal, and Glaswegians are among the most generous donators to charity in the UK.
TRAMPY: There can be only one.
So far 2013 has been a busy year for you guys, what was it like judging the ‘Best of Glasgow’ category at this year’s Scottish Curry Awards?
TRAMPY: It meant visiting 10 great curryhouses in a fairly short space of time. A tough job but we were delighted to do it. And I think it speaks to the high quality of Indian food in Glasgow – the rest of the region-specific awards only had shortlists of five. They needed to double it for Glasgow to be properly represented.
THE TRAMP: It was a real honour.
The TATTGOC blog will turn five this November, did you ever imagine when you started out that you would become so well-known and influential within the industry?
TRAMPY: The past five years do seem to have flown past, and it’s not like we’re not running out of places to visit. We’re planning to do something quite special in November, which might even involve breaking some of our own self-imposed rules. The greatest fifth anniversary gift, of course, would be Glasgow winning Curry Capital 2013 …
THE TRAMP: To be honest, I don’t think that really we’re influential, or that well-known, but it’s been great fun sharing our passion for Glasgow curry, and hopefully we’ve got other people excited too. Or at least entertained them with our tales.
Thanks to the TATTGOC guys for their great insight into this year’s Glasgow’s representative restaurants, if you’re mad about curry then make sure to check out their TATTGOC blog, which updates every Thursday.
hungryhouse are of course neutral and wish all competing cities the best of luck in this year’s Curry Capital awards, but remember, there’s still time for you to register your vote and be entered into the draw for a £300 hungryhouse voucher!
by David Sumner | hungryhouse.co.uk