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The Shenaz

The Shenaz

17 Granville Street,

0141 221 8528

Price Rating: 2

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Curious curries

Review published on 21/01/2013 © Sunday Herald

It’s one of those Monday nights … when we turn up at our planned restaurant and it’s not serving food. We back out the door awkwardly. On to the cold, unwelcoming street. And into the car. Leo looks at me and I look back at him with the “oops” expression. So we drive around and around like headless chickens thinking “Where else can we go?” when, ping – a little light goes on in my head and then we’re behind Glasgow’s Mitchell Library, parking the car and walking into the Shenaz.

It is 50 years old this year, or so I was told only a few days ago when I popped into Sarti’s in town and one of my cousin Adrian’s pals was talking about coming here for 40 years. “It hasn’t changed,” he said. I filed that under “hmmm”. Then someone else mentioned something about the pakora being unique. Or was it weird?

Anyway, now we’re sitting and we’re scanning the menu and although the decor is clean, crisp and fairly modern, if a little bland, the dishes are like a timeline, stretching all the way back. Baltis and bhoonas, kormas and chasnis, and isn’t that a chicken Maryland tucked away in the European section?

But there are also a lot of dishes I’ve never seen before and soon myself and Leo are pondering just what exactly is a rashmii kebab. It’s burger-shaped, mildly spiced, lamb flavoured and seems to have been dipped in an egg wash that trails off it, yet adds a certain pleasant something to the aftertaste.

Then there’s lamb tikka orange. Not like any lamb tikka I’ve had before. Thin slices of super-tender lamb are marinated in orange and cooked in the tandoor. I did say tender, didn’t I? Because we both pause in surprise at how delicious this is.

Then – ta-raaa – there’s the vegetable pakora which the waiter promised us would be plentiful and different. How to describe this mountain of lightly coloured, crisp and fragrant rings before us? Instead of the usual bullets of pakora, this version seems to be made entirely of onions, dipped in gram flour and fried and served in very tasty, extremely light piles of loveliness. Did everyone make their pakora this way once upon a time? Who knows but the old Shenaz certainly still has pulling power – as we’ve been eating the place has become what would pass for busy on a Monday night.

OK, do dil cognac, shahi shabab, lalli and bahar mean anything to you? They’re all dishes Shenaz claims are house specialities and neither Leo nor I are familiar with them. But we’ve been drawn to dishes the Shenaz seems to claim were invented – or only available – here, such as the chicken royal darbar: all dark, rich with soy sauce, of all things, containing baby corn and softened peppers. It doesn’t sound that good on the menu, but it tastes great with deep, mellow flavours.

What about the lamb rogan josh, which the menu says is “different from any other place”, being raw lamb cooked in garlic and yogurt. It adds, alarmingly, that it is a favourite for the garlic lover. Perhaps that should have warned us off, for this is a flaming hot, unbelievably pungent concoction of garlic and chillies which is far too powerful for either of us and will, I can just tell, leave a lingering aroma of garlic on me for days. Ugh. Still, it’s the only hiccup in an eccentric and endearing meal.

So I suppose the question must be: is this an old-school Indian restaurant stuck in time and kept going by loyal followers? Or is it a survivor simply because it has adapted without changing too much and is still pretty good? I’m going with the second option.