So what would you rather hear first: how to make this tantalizing recipe for Vegetable Balti, or the story of the day I was stood up by Britain’s curry king?
Okay, well, I know it’s the Balti you want, but I’d rather tell you the other one. Early in my career, while still working in India, I won a scholarship to work at The Daily Telegraph in London. To a green-behind-the-ears reporter, it was an exciting time. I had a huge house to myself on the Eastside, right on the river Thames. Every morning I’d walk down a mile or so to the tall, cone-roofed glass building in Canary Wharf where the offices of The Telegraph were, and tackle assignments that ranged from a fire at Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber’s stables to writing about a runaway teen who was always being found by police in foreign countries to zipping around the Thames at a press conference on a boat trying to interview Maurice Saatchi.
In the middle of all this, my editor at the newspaper I worked for back home in India dropped what seemed a fun assignment in my lap: she wanted me to write the story of Gulam Noon, the man almost synonymous with Indian cuisine in Britain.
Noon, called Britain’s curry king, is known for his packaged curries sold in supermarkets all over the country, and for his Bombay Brasserie restaurant in upscale Kensington. He is originally from Bombay, my home city, and I was rather looking forward to meeting him.