Hector’s last Dundee Curry was at the legendary Gunga Din sometime in the second half of the 1970s, around the same times as the Balaka Indian Restaurant (115-117 Perth Road, Dundee, DD1 4JB) was established (1977). This was not the planned venue this evening, the Malabar just along the road was the the targeted Curry House. Alas, having waited in Aberdeen to have the drive south coincide with their 17.30 opening time, we found the Malabar to be on holiday until August 20. One day.
This left a choice of two nearby. The Dil Se looked to new and shiny for Hector’s liking, the Balaka looked more appealing, a Traditional Scottish Curry House. The Geese Logo inspired me to confirm a translation. Girls and Boys is what came out. Who speaks Urdu?
The Menu, posted in the window was almost off-putting. I have not seen such a Basic Menu since the 1970s. No Karahi here, very little in the way of House Specials, instead all the Standard Dishes which people have enjoyed over the years, and no Fish!
Balaka was staffed by two Mature Chaps who looked as if they could have been here since 1977. The welcome was warm and indeed we warmed to them as the evening progressed. Bombay Mix was set before us, a departure from the norm. Hector tends not to partake, I always have my suspicions about the hygiene levels. Is is straight out the Box, has someone else been there before? Marg concluded the latter as she found very few nuts. Her hunt continued.
Rogan Josh or even the great fall-back, Vindaloo were considered. Marg contemplated the Chicken Balti about the same time as I considered Lamb Balti. However, there was one stand-out Dish – Kofta Curry. I would take advice.
The Waiter was all set to explain what Kofta is, however a polite interruption took us to the chase. The Masala was promised to be Thick. There was no mention of Herbs. Normally the Masala accompanying Kofta would be overloaded with Spinach or better still, Methi. We shall see.
My switch to Kofta saw Marg now select the Lamb Balti. Three Chapattis (£1.10) would Accompany. No Rice? No!
Three other Couples made up the Dining Cohort. One Lady would tell us that she has been eating here since her teens. Hector found the Atmosphere to be relaxing, aided in part by the Aquarium. Hector had the best view of this much to Marg’s chagrin.
The wait for the Curry was appreciated. This was not a classic – Here you are – straight from the pot scenario.
The Balti is still to come
The Chap brought two Platters of Curry and the Chapattis. He then announced that more was coming. We were confused.
We didn’t order three portions.
The Balti came last, a Vegetable Curry had been sat beside the Kofta.
The Balti comes with a Side Vegetable Curry.
Two Green Chillis
The Waiter pointed to two Large Green Chillis sitting on top of the Balti.
I have to warn you that these are Hot.
They went straight on to my Plate. Indeed they were, and thanks for the Warning!
The Kofta had been covered with bits of Salad, strange I thought, but the limitation of this Dish is that one normally only gets Meat Balls and Sauce, no Interesting Vegetable. I now had access to Vegetables, exactly how I prefer to enjoy my Curry.
Marg once again knew she was defeated before she started and was happy for me to weigh in.
The Kofta, the Balti and the Vegetable Curry all had pretty much the same classic Vintage Curry Masala achieved by either cooking the Onions down for days, or as I would to achieve this texture – by Puréeing. The Colour Red was most apparent as was the high Oil content. It would be easy to criticise at this point, but who am I to criticise this well established Venue which has been Satisfying the Good People of Dundee for nearly Forty Years. Everything looked Traditional, in the Scottish Interpretation of the term.
The Vegetable Curry had a definite Kick which took Marg a bit by surprise. With Potatoes, Carrots, Cauliflower and Mushrooms, almost a Meal in itself.
Being permitted a sample of the Lamb from the Balti I found the first piece on the chewy side, the second was well Tender. Cinnamon was the Flavour which dominated, Pleasant.
Both Meat Dishes were Sufficient. One and a Half Chapattis was also the limit, well presented and good-sized. The Kofta Balls had clearly just been introduced to the Masala, they was no great Flavour emanating from them. One had to rely on the Onion-rich Masala to provide Diversity. The Vegetable-side also helped.
Overall, not an Outstanding Meal but as I have written before, I like to eat Curry and this was Curry!
Marg desired Coffee, somehow the order of One Coffee saw Two arrive. The second was pronounced to be Free. Cheers.
£28.30. Three Curry Portions and Coffee, very good value.
The Calling Card was received gracefully. Warm Farewells were exchanged. A very pleasant venue.