Intrepid food bloggers Graeme Virtue and Chris Cameron have been covering Glasgow’s curry scene for five flavoursome years.
On their weekly blog – called Trampy and The Tramp’s Glasgow of Curry (TATTGOC) – they report on curry and curry culture while also filing reports from restaurants all over their home city and sometimes even further afield thanks to their squad of “foreign curryspondents”.
Despite their love of groan-worthy puns, the TATTGOC blog won Curry Lover of the Year title at the Scottish Curry Awards in 2010.
We spoke to Graeme and Chris earlier this year on the STV website, but as they are celebrating their fifth anniversary this month, we asked them if they would share some of the offbeat curry knowledge they have accrued over the years.
“We’re happy to do it,” said Graeme (Trampy). “But we should probably point out that these are personal recommendations, so are very subjective.”
“That’s right,” agreed Chris (The Tramp). “Our favourite curry house is probably the Shish Mahal on Park Road, which is a Glasgow institution, but the point of the TATTGOC blog is to get out of our comfort zone and try new things. Hopefully it might inspire others to do the same.”
Trampy: “Sometimes samosas can look like sad little things, especially the ones you see in supermarkets: floppy pastry envelopes wilting in a chill cabinet.
For the real deal, I recommend the samosas at Café Reeshah on the southside of Glasgow. Whether you prefer mince or vegetable, they are both exceptionally spicy, amazingly tasty and won’t break the bank. I find it almost impossible to walk past without popping in for a bite and a chat.”
Visit Café Reeshah at 455 Shields Road, G41 1NP.
Best late-night curry:
The Tramp: “It’s traditionally seen as an English thing, going for a curry once the pub has closed so you can have another pint. In Scotland, the pubs are open later, but then so is the Spice Garden.
"Tucked away just over the river under the main bridge out of Central Station, this long-standing curry joint is open until 4am at the weekends and 3.30am the rest of the week – perfect for a post-club midnight feast.
"The staff are real pros so it’s well worth a visit, not only for the curry but also for a spot of people-watching.”
Trampy: “Talking of service, I think the general level in Glasgow curry houses is exceptionally high.
"You’ll get a fantastic welcome in established places like Mother India, Balbir’s, KoolBa or the Shish Mahal. But I’ve always been extremely impressed by the service in Charcoals, a city centre curryhouse, where the staff push the boat out to make every meal feel special, with little tasters of this and samples of that.
"This one isn’t really a secret, though, since Ali from Charcoals won Maitre D’ of the Year at the Scottish Curry Awards 2013.”
Most authentic curry
The Tramp: “Glasgow will always be home to soupy curries like the famous Chicken Tikka Masala but it does feel like more people want to try authentic, on-the-bone curries, and Yadgar on Calder Street in Govanhill is one of the best places we’ve tried.
"With a wide range of desi ‘home-style’ curries, and a fine line in authentic desserts (check out the delicious halwa) it has to be on any serious curry fan’s hitlist. It’s often bustling though so be prepared to wait for a seat.”
Yadgar, 148 Calder Street, G42 7QP
Most impressive naan
Trampy: “In five years, we’ve seen a lot of impressive stuff, but nothing quite prepared our Curry Club for the enormous family naans from Akbar’s.
"These flatbreads are so big and pillowy, they come served on their own upright frame. Not bad for a chain based in northern England making a brave foray north of the border."
Best Egg Curry
The Tramp: “First, a little bit of background. All the guys who join us on our curry outings like to push the boat out and try new things.
"But for one of our Curry Clubbers, there is an unbreakable rule: he doesn’t want egg anywhere near his curry.
"There have been a few close calls over the years. I wish I could convince him to try the Egg Kofti Karahi from Café Serena - it’s just a fantastic curry that happens to have an egg cracked into it.
"It’s almost like a nasi-goreng style dish, with delicious lamb meatballs cooked in a karahi sauce topped with a runny-yolked poached egg. Trust me on this one - it’s the bomb.”
Café Serena, 328 Maxwell Road, G41 1PJ
Favourite hidden dish
Trampy: “Our dream on the TATTGOC blog is to go to a Glasgow curryhouse we’ve never been to before and to suddenly discover some incredible, mythical dish.
"The closest I’ve personally come to that feeling is when another member of the TATTGOC Curry Club, a guy called the KingFisher King, recommended we try out Rishi’s Indian Aroma, a recent Glasgow extension of an established Aberdeen curryhouse.
"It features lots of delicious dishes, with an emphasis on southern Indian cooking, but tucked away in the Indian Breads section of the menu are the Kothu Parottas, shredded breads stir-fried with ginger and onions, plus chicken, lamb or even egg. It’s a meal in itself and well worth seeking out.”
The Trampy and The Tramp’s Glasgow of Curry blog updates every Thursday.