?Stan! and Hector at Café Salma (523 Sauchiehall Street Glasgow, G3 7PQ) on a Friday evening, this was almost a ritual for the best part of last year. We have not been since October, how could this have happened? Café Salma is one of Glasgow’s consistently best Curry Houses and not forgetting the Moroccan menu which is available too.
The reason of course is quite simple, competition. With the excellent Punjabi Charing Cross around the corner in North Street, and the discovery of the wonder that is the New Karahi Place across the river in Tradeston (near that other venerable curry House, The Village), the last thing Hassan needs is yet another potentially wonderful outlet on the same block as Café Salma. More on Akbar’s later, but with every Asian in Glasgow seemingly piled into his next door neighbour in the past week; Hassan has his work cut out.
To say the greeting was warm would be an understatement. ?Stan! shook hands, Hector went straight for the open arms approach. It took time for the male hug to become part of my armoury, but come on; it is the warmest of greetings.
The Café was busier than normal at our normal 18.00 rendezvous. We offered seats downstairs where a larger table would have been available, but we prefer to be in the thick of the Indian style cooking and took a small table in front of the Chefs. The Complementary Popadoms and Dips arrived immediately, so did a copy of the Daily Record. Hassan was proud to show us the review written by that Chap who is officially the Scottish Curry Lover of the Year, 2011. Not that Hector has any resentment, no… Mr Cowan had eaten what Hector considers to be Starters, he did not have a proper Curry. Fortunately his Lady had something excellent and so the review was very positive. Hassan is a proud man.
?Stan! could not resist the wonder that is Kofta Palak, the Vegetable Rice also proved to be foremost in the Big Man’s mind instead of our usual Chapattis. The Vegetable Rice at Café Salma is indeed irresistible and so I ordered some too with a single Chapatti which ?Stan! instantly put dibs on to share. Who is this man? This is not the Dr Stan of years gone by. The main course had to be the Lamb Lahori Karahi, the thought of this had me salivating all day.
With the nibbles and reading matter removed, the meals were brought to the seemingly shrinking table. The Veggie Rice looked a bit on the stodgy side this evening, very unusual, but the Rice was fine and the array of Vegetables is what makes it a compulsive eat. Spooning on some Lamb and the very light and almost sticky Masala I put myself in a dilemma: to dip the Chapatti in the Karahi or eat a spoonful of Lamb and Rice. The former ritual held and we were underway. The flavour from this Masala is truly wonderful, slightly sweet, but only very slightly. The Lamb pieces looked huge in comparison to where I have been eating of late, this is certainly not the Bradford style.
?Stan! tucked into his Kofta Palak which I still thinks works better without Rice. I was tempted to lean over and steel a bit but that would have been out of order. It may be Friday evening, Shabbat, but one does not eat that way in this city.
We both felt a bit shattered after the ordeal that is eating superb food. How to get an Ale or two on top of that at the Bon Accord?
£27.45. Wherever we eat in Glasgow these days we find a meal somewhere over the £13.50 mark each.
We explained our absence once more to Hassan and described the competition. He did not appear to be too aware of the Punjabi Charing Cross, Akbar’s however he dismissed instantly. Hassan says his regular customers have been and have returned. In effect we did the same this evening. However, tomorrow is A-Day – I have arranged a small rendezvous at the opening time of 16.00. This is in itself a minus mark, why so late in the day? People do eat Curry for Breakfast, especially in Bradford.