Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dundee, the legend of The Gunga Din, and chicken livers at The Malabar



To Dundee, home of some of the greatest pubs in the universe - this time, The Speedwell, universally known as Mennie's, and The Phoenix, universally known as Bannerman's. And to the magnificent Malabar on Perth Road, home of Goanese and Keralan cooking.

For those of a certain age, Jacob, who owns the Malabar, will be remembered as proprietor of the legendary Gunga Din, also in Perth Road. In the late 60s and 70s, this was lauded by the cognoscenti as the best place to eat 'Indian' food in Scotland. A favourite of rock stars (and especially Billy Connolly), at a time when Pakistani and Bangladeshi restaurateurs were setting the tone for 'the Scottish curry', the Gunga Din was always different. And the Malabar still is.

It's unpretentious. Formica tables, basic decor. It's not dear. (Bottle of Montepulciano, very good, £10.99). And the food is astonishing. I had chicken livers in chili sauce to start, followed by marinated trout fillets served with daal, boiled rice, salad and a nan bread unlike any other. Everything here is different. The Saag Gosht is intense in a way it never is in the 'common pot' school of Asian cookery; even the spiced onions are dark and much more like a real chutney than chilli-powdered red-raw slices.

The trout (can't remember its Goan name)is similar to the salmon dish served at Balbir's in Glasgow, and there are similarities to some of the Mother India and experimental Wee Curry Shop recipes to be found on he menu.

But the Malabar truly is the motherlode.

7 comments:

Norrie said...

Oh - and I thought my homemedae lentil soup was nice. Suddenly I am very very hungry!

jim stewart said...

sounds as if it is better than The Raj in Old Sneddon Street in Paisley...but then again most places are...

jim stewart said...

anybody remember The Green Gates I think it was near the Uni in Glasgow?...had my first real curry there in 1974 gone now .....

Anonymous said...

see you in phoenix. hope you enjoyed your whisky

Anonymous said...

seen you in phoenix. hope you enjoyed your whisky.

russ.

Fiona said...

Ooh, you're taking me back. We spent many happy nights in the Gunga Din - that was where I acquired my liking for curry. My father liked Mennie's (old Mrs Mennie shouting last orders!) and the Tay Bridge Bar as we had a shop on the Perth Rd years ago and lived nearby. We frequented the student haunts of the Perth Rd and Hawkhill - The Tav, Willie Frew's (old-style pub - no ladies toilets!), the Scout, the Phoenix, etc and many great nights in Laing's. (Art College Union)

Anonymous said...

Anyone would think this was a restaurant blog...now there's a thought?