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The origins of the curry lie in the exciting, colourful and vibrant countries of India and Pakistan — adding a selection of spices to a dish to give it flavour and zest is a centuries old tradition in that part of the world and a popular way to liven up meat or vegetables.  However, it’s not just east of Blighty that the curry has taken hold, as the UK has long been a nation of curry lovers.

Whilst the first ever curry house opened in the UK in the 1800s it wasn’t really until the 1960s and 70s that all the kormas, tikka masalas, bhunas and vindaloos (many of which were customised dishes unique to the UK that didn’t exist in their home countries) started to take hold in the British psyche.  Since then we have been literally lapping them up and a trip to the curry house is still something most of us do regularly, whether after a few pints, as a family meal, or for a take away.

Whilst you might have thought that Curry Capital of Britain was London, or Bradford with its ‘Curry Mile,’ north of the border there is an equally strong spice obsession.  Although Bradford does currently hold the title, Glasgow has won the Curry Capital of Britain award an impressive four times, in 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2010, and is in the running again this year. The four local restaurants representing the city in the competition are KoolBa, Mister Singh’s, Mother India and Neelim, which out of the 91 restaurants located in Glasgow received the largest number of public votes.  Glasgow’s Lord Provost Sadie Docherty is keen for the city to regain the title and was quoted in an article on the BBC website as saying:

«This city has many, many wonderful Indian restaurants and the public have made an excellent choice nominating KoolBa, Mister Singh’s India, Mother India and Neelim to go forward and represent us in the competition.  Thanks to their support we have four fantastic restaurants, each with their own unique style and quality — not to mention enthusiasm — to help Glasgow win.»

Whilst these four establishments might be challenging for the title on behalf of Glasgow, they are not the only curry houses in the city that draw the locals, as there are a whole range of restaurants where you can dig into a spicy palak, or some delicious, crisp onion pakoras to tantalise your tastebunds. 

The Dhabba (www.thedhabba.com) serves authentic north Indian cuisine with a contemporary twist, right in the heart of Merchant City, whilst The Koh-I-Noor Restaurant (www.koh-i-noor-glasgow.co.uk) receives rave reviews from customers, particularly for its tikka masala.

Green Chilli Café (www.greenchillicafe.com) is a unique Indian tapas style restaurant with a menu that includes exciting dishes such as poori, Goan fish curry and even haggis fritters with a tangy sauce! For those watching their weight a curry doesn’t have to be out of the question — Cafe India (cafeindiaglasgow.com) serves up Indian haute cuisine with freshly sourced ingredients and dishes that don’t use ‘ghee’ to avoid being too high fat, whilst still having lashings of taste.

The four restaurants representing the city in the Curry Capital of Britain award have an excellent chance of taking home the gong for Glasgow, and on behalf of all the other curry establishments in the area. The winner of Curry Capital of the Year 2012 will be announced on 29 October 2012. So check back then through Glasgow City Council’s (www.glasgow.gov.uk) to find out if Glasgow has been successful. May the best masala win…

This post was written by John, a UK travel writer working with National car hire Glasgow. He favours a fish Bhuna in his local curry house!

Image: A view of Hutcheson’s Hall looking up Hutcheson Street (Glasgow, Scotland) by Flickr user House of Hall

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