Website: The Dhabba
Menu: The Dhabba
For a non-Glaswegian (sacrilege), Glasgow is like a maze. It’s a spiralling, London-lite metropolis that’s second to none for its inhabitants but a rat run for newbies.
If you’re lucky to have a seasoned Edinburgh migrant to give you a tour, you’re in good fortune: you can simply name an appetite and be given the names of great establishments in quick succession. In this case, ‘Indian’ was met with ‘Dhabba’ and a prompt march on to an evening of most enjoyable dining.
The Dhabba is well known locally as a premium destination for authentic North Indian cuisine. The prices match its reputation, and while not cheap, the menu is worth every penny if you select well and daringly.
I have a preference for mild foods and have never understood why people enjoy food that erupts the taste buds and reduces you to tears. From an impressive à la carte menu, the Gosht Kali Mirch ka Shorba or lamb shank soup seemed to be a safe bet for a starter. Combining a beautifully tender shredded lamb with a textured flavour, the soup had a great spicy kick. It induced a sweat and made me pace myself, but the taste left me undeterred and was one of the most delightful entrées I’ve ever had.
My friend’s Murg ke Golay or spiced minced chicken balls with a cheese centre was delicious but tame by comparison. I stand by the hot food convert’s choice but compliment the selection: this is Indian food, intricate, well prepared and enriched by spices that will, to indulge a cliché, knock your socks off.
For a main, and heeding the lesson of my starter, I deliberately found something non-explosive to the palette and went for the bland-sounding Murg Palakdaar (pieces of chicken in a smooth spinach and butter sauce). I played it too safe, and in comparison to the textured zing of my friend’s Dhabba Murg Khasiat (chicken tikka pieces in a tomato, ginger and garlic sauce) I found my choice a bit flavourless.
Despite ogling my friend’s dish, in both instances, the chicken was cooked to tender perfection and melted in the mouth. Our accompanying Basmati rice and Peshwari naan were excellent, beautifully soft and well prepared and served us both well. A Magners, from an excellent drinks menu, put out the fire.
My regret with this experience was that I played it too safe by going for something mild. Like different clothes sizes across the world, mild and or hot mean different things to different people. In this case, I was off; smooth means bland and rich or a good medium range punch of delight.
The surroundings are charming but not intimate: this is not a cosy or warmly lit venue and is ideally suited for those looking for a soirée with a large party. If it’s an intimate dining experience you’re after, this might not be the best choice despite the food being just that. The staff is charming and attentive, and indulge admirable albeit atrocious attempt at menu pronunciation.
Indian food will always be the most clichéd. It is both the most recognisable but also the most challenging food to judge. In this instance both are clear, and Dhabba offers an authentic blend of flavours and a spicy kick for a taste that lingers.