The term Cold Turkey usually refers to something else, Hector has been forced to eat European food for too many days. As the overseer of the preparation of the xmas dinner for fourteen hungry souls I was not even permitted by the Dear Lady to put Pepper in the Soup lest it resemble something interesting.
That was then
The Sisters have gone out in Aberdeen for their annual dinner, this gave Hector the opperchancity to escape into town. Hector was on a mission, in fact two. A Curry-Heute and a visit to The Spice of Asia.
Since my conversation with Hari (see Punjabi, Charing Cross), I have had email communication with Ahmed, my Islamabad Correspondent, about Fresh Methi. The Spice of Asia (63 John St) is the only quality food outlet I know in Furry-Boots City. The fact that it is across the road from Aitkens the Bakers, and the source of Aberdeen’s finest Rowies, is a fine example of serendipity.
I vaguely knew what I was looking for but could only spot Coriander. If you don’t ask… so I asked the Chap and he disappeared to the back shop: ‘Will two bunches do?’ At £1.58 for the pair this seemed good value. I had a taste, nothing happened. It must be in the cooking. And so now I have to discover the secret of unlocking the magnificent bitterness of this wonderful Herb.
The Return of Hector Holmes
Metres from the above is El Andalus (222 George Street, Aberdeen, AB25 1ED). This is a Curry Cafe I spotted over a year ago but have never found open. Rishi’s is a couple of doors along and is obviously connected, to what extent I would endeavour to establish.
What was an open plan Takeaway and Cafe has now been re-designed. There is a small standing area to order Kebabs et al; a door leads to a much improved room off. Here people are also invited to sit whilst waiting for their Takeaways, I bet this annoys the diners.
Being lunchtime I was once again The Lone Diner. Mein Host discussed the menu. I was intent on procuring a dry dish, he sounded intent on giving me Soup. We compromised on the Lamb Bhuna, without Capsicum. The Mushroom Rice sounded the correct accompaniment. I declined all offers of Nan, Chapattis et al. No Sparkling Water was available and so a glass of Tap Water had to suffice.
Normally one hears kitchen noises, all Hector heard was the phone ring and Mein Host say ‘Lamb Bhuna with Mushroom Rice’. Where was this Curry coming from, surely not the kitchen of Rishi?
The Curry was beamed in
The Bhuna was in no way dry, at least the Masala was an interesting brown colour. The Rice looked impressive, topped with chopped Spring Onion. I was looking forward to the variety of texture. The ritual photos were completed, then the first intake of something that was not Turkey related; the wonderful aromatic flavour of Clove was superb. This was followed by Green Cardamom. I assume these came from the Curry and not the Rice. The Rice had minimal Mushroom, sliced Onion and two types of Capsicum. I decided to make my point and picked these all out and put them back in the metal bowl. Now Ahmed in Islamabad has told me in the last few days that Capsicum is only used in his household in Keema Curries, optionally. This squishy Vegetable basically is not used in Pakistan, so why does it prevail in Europe? I know this rant is repetitive, but as long as the Chefs and Curry Moguls insist on including it, I shall persist.
The Curry itself was nothing special. The Lamb appeared to have met the Masala on the plate, not an uncommon comment made by Hector. This was lunch, dinner is already booked with Marg for this evening.
£10.28. The Rice at £3.29 was a significant part of this.
I made a point of interrogating Mein Host about the association with Rishi’s. ‘Same kitchen?’ I asked. ‘Same Boss, different Staff.’ was the reply. The sound insulation at El Andalus is remarkable.
Update December 2015
El Andalus is no more. In its place is Mr. Kebab. The venue still sells Curry, whether it still magically appears may never be determined.