Saturday 20th August 2016.
Nolens Volens may sound like a hip new Belgian signing warming a Premiership subs bench but actually it’s only a bit of Latin which means ‘whether one wants to or not’. My weekly curry crusades seem to be taking on a certain nolens volens aspect, you could say. One fears for Skippy and her increasingly butter chickenish flush; never mind my dawnlight tribulations -tramping and trumping in purblind lurches toward the porcelain white glow of sweet salvation. Tripping over a chattering cat, waking the house.
Bertie always seems to have a lot on his mind when he’s hungry – a lot to express. Perhaps offering a preference for tuna or cod or such like. Remonstrating about the latest Felix ‘As Good As It Gets’ range. Demanding more robust seasoning. Or maybe: what is that delicate, appetising, secondhand aroma? Why don’t I ever get any of that? Who knows the complexity of feline cognition, or the depth of untapped meaning transmitted in that mysterious, squeaky tongue.
It was Mr Bojangles who tipped us off about Urban Choola’s imminent relocation over to Ecclesall Road – a sort of trendy King’s Road, Chelsea for South Yorkshire. So we thought we’d grab a last gasp blast on the original before they swank up the toilets and hike the price menu. London Road mercifully subdued (Blades away at Millwall), we braced the rainy summer afternoon, sparing a moment at Airy Fairy to browse their ‘sage smudging wand’ range and unicorn tarot sets.
It’s not the prettiest restaurant. Large glazed windows preside over the Sharrow Lane junction; a few cartoonish prints of street-eating scenes. Otherwise it’s scruffily basic. Not much in the way of background music either, just amplified chatter reverberating off wooden floorboards.
The usual gutbuster order began with stiff popodums and a half-hearted, unorthodox pickle threesome: a sweet tamarindy one; minty coriander; runny mild red chilli. Not a chopped onion or lime rind to shake your wand at… Next, the potato and onion bhaji – jaggedy, bite-sized combos pinging with chilli hits. The mini chicken wings daubed in a tamarind sauce also failed to disappoint. Try one of the lassis (between gulps of your bring your own); the plain sweet one, hint of cardamon – unalloyed lusciousness.
None of which quite prepared us for the mouth-watering sensation of thali time! I went for the lamb chettinadh; just dang delicious. A rich, flavoursome madras strength dish accompanied by delightful sides of melty chickpeas, black gram – smoothie style, and a sweetly tumericy potato and peas. A dose of raita to dampen the incendiaries. Not that we were reaching for the fire blankets – on the contrary, we were wet t-shirting ourselves in the street corner hydrant spray of sheer curry-eating hedonism.
Judge ‘Gonzo’ Pickles
Fred ‘Skippy’ Pickles