Hector was made aware earlier in the year of a new Curry House in Aberdeen that would have to be visited. Stories of meals being cooked at the table and a connection with the excellent Echt Tandoori sparked an interest. As experienced a couple of weeks ago at 7 Spices Balti (Sheffield), when the final presentation is completed at the table, the food is served as – Hot – as it can be.
Wild Ginger (367 Union St, Aberdeen AB11 6BT) lies on virtually the same block, same side of street, between the 8848 Restaurant and Cumin Tandoori. It is a basement venue and of considerable size. Arriving at 19.20, we were not sure if Sandy and Tracey had booked, it wasn’t a problem, we were led through the lines of tables to the far end of the room. I counted some twenty diners en route. We were relieved of our umbrellas which was quite sensible. When will it stop raining in Scotland?
Menus were provided which gave us a few minutes start. Having looked online, I had not seen many Dishes that were a huge departure from the – Mainstream. The Menu presented in house was extensive, perhaps artificially so, this many – Specials. If they are all really different how is this sustainable? Rajastani Lamb Chops (£10.95) tempted, also two versions of Lamb Kofta (£10.95), with and without Spinach. Lamb Khada Masala (£9.95) – Succulent chunks of lamb, simmered with chopped onion and whole spices in a thick sauce with a hint of ginger – ticked my boxes. The – Offending Vegetable – would be avoided, Green Peppers were specifically mentioned in too many Dishes for Hector’s liking. Actually, even – once – is too often. Still, so much choice, I could eat here every night.
Sandy and Tracey were escorted to our table, after the welcome hugs, time to start again. I had assumed the – Specials – stopped after a page or so, they went on, and on.
We were – offered – Poppadoms (£1.00). I decided to stay silent, I do not believe these should ever be charged for and refuse to have one when they are not Complimentary. Three Poppadoms were ordered. We had no Drinks Menu, a Large Bottle of Sparkling Water and a pint of Cobra/ Kingfisher (?) Shandy would satisfy the four. This would be supplemented later by another Sparkling Water and a half pint. Check the ice bucket for the Sparkling Water. Perhaps this is how Scottish Water should be treated? … not that we have a shortage of it.
Kalamgi Khyberi Venison (£10.95) – Fillet of venison, delicately spiced and oven roasted, served in an aromatic sauce made from star anise, roasted garam masala and fresh ginger – looked even better than my original choice. The Opperchancity to have a Venison Curry could not be passed over. The Khyber Pass: my appreciation of Afghani/Punjabi Cuisine is well recorded in these pages. Sandy was on board for this also despite having reservations about the – Star Anise. For Sandy an Onion and Cheese Nan ( £3.25), something new, for Hector – Garlic and Coriander Nan (£3.50).
The price of a Plain Naan here is £2.50. One Roti is £2.25! The Man from Bradford was in contact throughout the day expressing his disbelief at the price of Bread in Aberdeen, that makes two of us, at least.
Marg was considering Lamb Relish (£9.95), but as a – relish sauce – could have been anything, even from a jar, she then took my advice and went for Lamb Khada Masala, my original choice. Good girl. I was offering to share Lemon Chilli Fried Rice (£3.75) with Marg. Lemon Rice (£3.75) caught Marg’s eye – Lemon, cashew nut, chickpea and potato and spinach rice – the inclusion of Cashew Nuts was the attraction for Marg, the Aloo for Hector.
Tracey took her time: Bengal Exotica (£10.95) – This favourite Bangla dish is prepared in a rich, thick sauce with an exotic flavour – surprised Hector. Tracey typically goes for something more Soup-like, though she did stick to her usual – Chicken. Served – Medium hot – the Menu stated, Tracey would ask for this to be tempered with an emphasis on – Medium. A Coriander Nan (£2.50) would complete the Food Order.
The Ladies gave their respective requests. I asked for the Kalamgi Khyberi Venison, twice. Our Waiter shook his head, this was not available. We understood that this was not just a case of tonight, but not at all. I asked for another five minutes to start again.
The reliable LG was produced, the Curry-Heute Homepage was summoned, the basement locus slowed this down. Meanwhile Marg started to list – The Hector Curry Requirements: Lamb, Tender, not Tikka, Thick, Minimal Masala, Methi and no Capsicum. I could only access the Excellent Bhuna Gosht served at Ambal’s Restauarant (Aberdeen) two days previously.
This is what I am looking for – I said, showing the Bhuna Gosht on my phone.
The Waiter pointed to – Sizzling Masala Lamb (£10.95) – Tender chunks of lamb extensively prepared with green peppers, onions, cumin seeds, roasted garam masala in a chef’s special tandoori sauce.
I did not want Meat cooked in a Tandoor or Green Peppers. Sizzling – suggested Fried or Tandoori Meat. The Waiter assured me that the Green Peppers could be withheld and I would be having Tender Lamb. Why have Capsicum in the first place? Now for Sandy.
Darziling Korai Lamb (£10.95) – Barbecued meat cooked in a rich textured sauce with garlic and onions, sprinkled with fresh coriander – was the suggestion. Sorted.
Three Poppadoms arrived with the Chutney Tray, Hector took no part but was assured by Sandy that the Lime Pickle was a Standout. It had the appearance of being prepared – in house. With the second Large Bottle of Sparkling Water now placed in the ice bucket, we were ready for the Mains.
In the interim, Sandy marvelled at the copper pipes which ran up to the ceiling, the lack of varnish/paint to reveal how they had been installed. On his last visit here he had asked. I was told. This is not a Carpentry Blog. The décor here was reportedly conceived by the same peeps who designed Echt Tandoori.
Same Owner, Same Designer, Same Curry?
One tries to take the ritual photos as quickly as possible so as not to delay the commencement of the actual process of eating. As the Waiters tried to place our various plates on the table we were clearly struggling for space. Who ordered the third Naan? Hector had noted exactly who had ordered what.
The Four Dishes were all presented with differing garnishes, Ornate, or a waste of Vegetables? If that’s what people desire when they are out – To Dine – then so be it. The presentation of my Mushroom Rice last night at Lahore Karahi on the plate from which I would eat suited me fine. Two Dishes tonight were placed on the hot metal stand, two served on dining plates.
Three Naans, each served in quarters, why? They were also round, so on/in what had they been cooked? Naans cooked in a Tandoor tend to have the panhandle, my favourite part. The Naans were Soft and all three were – Peely Wally – and could have been fired for longer. The Garlic and Coriander Naan was warm, it might have been – Hot – once upon a time. More on this to come. Three quarters were left on the table at the end, so the overall size must have been more than adequate.
Quite subtle – was Sandy’s take on the Onion and Cheese Nan.
Marg took very little when she observed how small the portion was. Frequently I comment on portions which would feed three, especially in Europe where incidentally, Rice is usually inclusive in the price of a Main Dish. I took enough to give my plate a semblance of a – Rice Covering – and handed the rest back to Marg. A few Cashew Nuts, Chickpeas, a hint of Spinach, and Yellow Capsicum (!) stared back at me. No Potato! Who decided to substitute Aloo with Ballast? £3.75.
Sizzling Masala Lamb
Presented on an iron platter, there was no – Sizzle. The Dish did have the semblance of something I was going to enjoy: the Masala was indeed – Thick – as described, there did not appear to be an Excess. The Lamb looked plentiful, the pieces were – Large.
I decanted the majority and had counted well into double figures, indeed, plenty of Meat. I used a piece of Naan to mop up some Masala from the iron platter. Very little in the way of – Spice – and woefully Under-seasoned. There was a taste…
Concentrating on the Meat, I noted how Wonderfully Tender the Lamb was. Pieces were halved, the Quantity was impressing more with each passing moment. There was a taste…
There was an unwelcome sense of – Sweetness – coming from somewhere. I studied the Naan looking for Coconut, but saw none. I saw very little Garlic or Coriander either. There was a taste…
I do not know from where this – Alien Blend of Spice – came, but the combination of Flavours was not sitting well on – The Hector Palate. The Rice, the Naan, the Curry were far from – Hot – approaching – Tepid. I want my food served – Hot! What happened to the tale of – final preparation at the table? On Saturday after the monthly visit to Staggs (Musselburgh), I shall once again visit the Karahi Palace (Glasgow) where the food is served too hot to touch and nobody would consider putting Capsicum in any Dish.
I was probably last to finish, my facial expression no doubt giving away my displeasure. Having dined and then raved about the meals I have previously enjoyed at Echt Tandoori, what was this?
Darziling Korai Lamb
A work of art, the carved Vegetables set aside, and hopefully the needless Capsicum, Sandy too was left with a Thick Masala. The Echt Tandoori influence was evident, large strands of Onion though the Masala. Sandy managed about three quarters of his meal before calling a halt. Again, the Portion Size impressed.
I liked the dry texture, the flavour. It could have been slightly more spiced … as you say, a little more seasoning.
On the whole I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Nouvelle Cuisine, Indian-style? The plate was a hoot. Once more there was a welcomed – Thick Masala – with pieces of Chicken protruding. Tracey remarked almost immediately:
This is the driest I have ever had, Tandoori aside.
This was so unlike anything I had seen Tracey order before. Would she be converted to – Dry & Minimal? Time will tell, if she ever agrees to have Curry with me again. Is there a – Gillian – waiting in the wings?
Good flavour, on the hot side of medium for me.
Lamb Khada Masala
As with my choice, there was less garnish. Is this because both were going on the hot metal stand? Once the surface was broken, I noted that the Masala was considerably thinner than elsewhere on the table. This was approaching a – Mainstream Curry, however, here too was the telltale long strands of Onion. Marg insists she likes Onion when it is cooked, either way, she always ends up with – Dopiaza variants. Large Bay Leaves were left in the bowl after Marg decanted. That Marg was offering samples around the table latterly confirms that she too had a – Large Portion.
I dipped some Naan in the Masala. The Flavour was not as – full on – as my Dish. I couldn’t taste much at all, except…
Hector was clearly out on a limb this evening, Marg too was pleased with her choice:
I loved it, very tasty, tender meat, and the extra bits in the rice added to the flavour.
Marg and I had shared the Lemon Rice and the Garlic and Coriander Naan. I conclude therefore that it was the Curry that was not to my liking, but I did eat two Quarters of Naan to Marg’s one.
Now imagine I had been given – Kalamgi Khyberi Venison – as originally asked for.
£78.75. The first thing I noticed was that we had been charged for – Four – Poppadoms.
We’ll take £1.00 off the tip – I suggested. There was no charge for the Chutney (£0.00) was recorded.
£4.50 a pint, £2.75 a half pint. This is not how I divide by two. Then there was the Sparkling Water:
£5.50 per litre bottle. We had two bottles! To paraphrase – The Man from Bradford:
Dick Turpin would be proud.
The Calling Card was on the table, but I knew not to whom I should present it having sat with my back to the room all evening. I could tell by the volume of noise behind me (especially the screaming wean who was also hindering the attempted enjoyment of my meal) that Wild Ginger had become very busy. I now estimated double the crowd. As we took the long walk back towards the door, I gave my Calling Card to the most mature Chap on the staff. I mentioned I had been to Echt Tandoori and reviewed it (thrice). I was then invited to take more photos and was shown – The Grill – which was not in use this evening.
Back out in the pouring rain, we headed for a taxi. CuminTandoori was empty. What does that tell us?