A few days before the recent Curry Awards for which Hector was nominated in the category of Curry Lover of The Year, Mr Waseem Ahmed of the Shimla Cottage (109 Sunnyside Rd, Coatbridge, ML5 3HR) extended an invitation to eat at his premises. This was a first for the Curry-Heute website, and hopefully not the last.
In further communications with Waseem he raised the point that Coatbridge is well off the beaten track for Curry explorers such as me. The last time Marg and Hector were in Coatbridge was more than five years ago, the final day of Hector’s ice-skating career. Fifteen seconds at The Time Capsule and I knew that this was it; the fear of heights has become extreme to the point of ridiculous.
We arrived at 17.30 as arranged, Waseem was there to greet us, I felt as if I was recognized, second time in a week. We were settled in a very spacious room at the window. For once, we were not alone. Indeed many families arrived shortly after, taking good advantage of the two-for-one offer which extends from Sunday to Thursday.
The Popadoms and excellent Onion Chutney arrived with the presentation of the menu. Waseem told us that the Special today was Karahi Gosht. The mind was made up, though we did spend time looking through the extensive menu. The Cast Iron Garam Masala may have been picked on another day. There were some interesting Vegetarian Starters, but as we were determined to do the Curry justice we kept to our normal dining pattern and stuck to the Mains. One Mushroom Rice and two Tandoori Roti were the accompaniments.
We had a pleasant chat with Waseem whilst we waited for the meal. He has been in situ for some ten years. There is quite a bit of competition in the town, we passed two en route. The location adjacent to Sunnyside Station means there is ample car parking space, a distinct advantage given the double yellow lines through the town centre.
Was it coincidence that this was the day’s special? This is the Curry most favoured by Hector. The dishes arrived, two ample portions of Lamb in a very thick and rich looking Masala. The Roti was dipped in, this is impressive, I thought. It was only after spooning the Curry on to the Rice we realised that the Lamb was on-the-bone, superb. This does make a huge difference to the flavour of a Curry.
The Curry was hotter than Marg would have preferred, it was ideal for me; a good kick but not excessive. There was a distinct Clove and Green Cardamom presence; pieces of Cinnamon Bark were added to the bone debris on the plates as we ate. No Capsicum! The key ingredients were there. The volume was perfection. This was a thoroughly enjoyable Curry.
Hector: ‘Do you have a bill for me?’ It was polite to ask.
Waseem: ‘ No, that’s ok.’
That the good people of Coatbridge have access to this quality of Curry on their doorstep is something that should be appreciated.
The coffee served afterwards deserves a special mention (Bei Nannini). This was easily the best coffee I have ever been served in a Curry House – fresh and very hot.
The day was not over – Damo Suzuki is in town!
Hector’s favourite band of all time – Can – have not toured in over thirty years. Damo Suzuki, the vocalist on four albums from the early 1970s has been touring endlessly for years. He tends to arrive, meet up with a group of local musicians, they play, he sings. As was the style of Can at their best, this is improvisation taken to extreme.
Driving along half the route of the 62 bus which links Coatbridge with Clydebank, we arrived at Stereo (Renfield Lane, Glasgow) in good time. The doors opened at 19.00. Damo was not due on stage until 22.00. There was two support bands.
I phoned Robin instigator of the Bad Boys Club, so called because we professionals do not go to the pub on a Sunday except under extraordinary circumstances. Tonight was extraordinary. They were heading imminently to the Bon Accord having been summoned by Russell the Cellarman. An orgasmic Bier was available: Infinity by Blue Monkey. It wisnae shabby.
Meanwhile back at the gig
We arrived to see Mandog who have been touring of late with Damo. On hearing the last five minutes of their set I was blown away. This was intense, almost Space Rock. Mandog are a trio of guitar, bass and drums. The guitarist was amazing and the drummer was playing in more of a jazz style than rock.
Shortly after 22.00 Mandog, another guitar and bass player took the stage along with Damo. Bang!
A forty minute cacophony then ensued. Damo eyes shut, wailing into the mike, coming up for air every so often. The band were tight, clearly they have been playing together for some time.
That was it, the full Damo experience – love it or loathe it, there is nothing else like it.