Big apologies to this eatery for my germ assault. I coughed on the glass counter, while mooning over their choice of curries.
I choked beside the specials, then had bronchial spasms after sitting on a red plastic stool at one of the three small tables that constitute the sit-in aspect of this small and slightly draughty (as it says on the blackboard, “It may be nippy, but it’s better than a chippy”) all-day take away and restaurant.
Let’s go for a curry, we’d thought, because that’s what you do when you have a cold. It’s like when you’re 11 months up-the-duff. The virus/baby or both is guaranteed to be propelled out of your body by an explosive combination of chilli and turmeric.
The menu at this place – which is owned by Rachna Dheer and Gail Finlayson, who started out serving their grub at farmers’ markets (they still do that) – is rather bitty, with food lists pinned up all over the place.
You imagine that, after the first visit, you get into the swing of things. Most of the people who arrived after us knew what they’d come for.
The breakfasts, including a spicy scrambled egg bhurji pau (£3.50) sound ridiculously tempting, but it was post-noon so we kicked off with bhel puri (£3.50), which was served in a paper cone.
This couldn’t be described as the prettiest of snacks, with bits of chopped lentil vermicelli, potato and savoury puffed rice flakes (which resembled un-hatched chrysalises), but it’s amazing that so much beige could produce a tombola of flavour, with lime, coriander, chaat masala, tamarind, chilli and garlic, all of which remained distinct.
The beetroot patties (£3.50) were similarly multi-layered. The earthy sweetness of the grated beetroot, packed into two fat pucks, each of which boasted a crisp and caramelised epidermis, was pimped up by loads of zingy sinus-clearing ginger and chilli.
For my main, I went for the meaty curry of the day – butter chicken (£5.50), which comes with rice or a Glaswegian buttered and toasted Morton’s roll as well as a side dish (choices include Bombay slaw or cucumber raita).
My one complaint is that this option was served lukewarm. Still, there was loads of burly matchbox-sized chunks of chicken in a nutty, cumin-spiced and turmeric-coloured sauce.
The basmati rice had been teased to its full fluffy potential, like a back-combed beehive in a John Waters film, while a helping of grated tamarind carrot helped to temper the extreme heat (to a wimp like me) of this dish.
“This is going to be messy,” said the waitress, when it came to the Frankie Goes to Bollywood (£5.20). You choose a daily curry to go inside this option, which consists of an egg-dipped filled chapati, and my dining partner had unwittingly gone for the gloopiest, blobbiest, runniest option of keema pau. To save the front of his tux, he ate with a knife and fork, all fancy.
It was such a good comfort food dish – spicy lamb mince with peas and a chilli vinegar dressing, swaddled in a chapati, with bits of crispy egg on its outside. As Frankie says… welcome to the pleasure dome.
Puddings aren’t a big deal here, though they do serve mango lassi (£2) and chai tea (£2.50).
We bailed in order to visit a new cafe – Riverhill Coffee (24 Gordon Street, Glasgow, 0141-204 4762) – as I’d heard good things about their cakes.
Sadly, other people have too, as the treats were a bit thin on the ground by the time we got there. From the remains, as well as two decent flat whites using grinds from Glasgow’s Dear Green Coffee roasters (£2.20 each), we went for a Snickerdoodle (£2) and a Twix cake (£2), both of which were top notch, even if they weren’t even pretending to be high brow.
Anyway, I’m not ashamed. I’m ill, thus everything I eat is medicinal, and naughty cakes and a visit to Babu Bombay Street Kitchen are just what the food doctor ordered.
Lunch for two, excluding drinks,
186 West Regent Street, Glasgow (0141-204 4042, www.babu-kitchen.co.uk)