Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The best Indian Restaurant in the world?

Well, it is according to one of Scotland's most experienced Curryistas, editor of a national newspaper and a man who in his youth used to import spices from the Indian subcontinent to satisfy his desire to create the perfect bhuna.
And last night, in Dundee's Perth road, I had what I can only describe as the best curry I've ever had in Scotland. And that's in 35 years of curry consumption. In Wolverhampton, back in the early 80s, I had a truly wondrous tandoori, before the clay oven had assumed ubiquity; In Durban, South Africa, I had a superb lunch in what was then generally regarded as the best Asian restaurant in Africa.
But I've never been to Goa, and there's no question that The Malabar in Dundee is heavily influenced by Goanese styles. There is, for example, large amounts of fish on the menu. And, for the first time in my experience of Indian food, offal - the chilli chicken livers were astounding, and the lamb's kidneys with aubergine completely magnificent.
If any of this is sounding familiar, then it may be time to mention two magic words - they are 'Gunga' and 'Din'. Back in the 1970s, the Gunga Din, also in Perth Road, was regarded by many as Scotland's top Asian eatery - notably by Billy Connolly. The Malabar sees the triumphant return from retirement of Jacob, legendary proprietor of the Gunga Din, a man who trained as a chef in some of London's top hotels and was on fine form last night.
There are some interesting absences at The Malabar - roti, yes, but no nan bread - and it's not the place for those craving the familiar Vindaloo-pakora sandwich. But after last night's meal I was conscious of having experienced something very rare - a truly exciting, satisfying, inspring meal. It was, I have to say, almost spiritual and certainly emotional. Though that may have had something to do with the beer consumed earlier in the Phoenix and Mennie's.
It's not plush, it's starkly lit and the tables are formica topped. But it's the best in Scotland, no question whatsoever.


Unknown said...

I haven't been in the restaurant yet (I intend to), but my guess would be that Malabar is influenced more by the cuisine of Kerala rather than Goa.

Tom said...

Sampled the cusine once...and now returning! Simple and short menu but fantastic flavours and so friendly staff.