Bangalore Express

Regular readers of this blog will know that I suffer from a shameless weakness for anglo-asian dishes. Done properly, curried cauliflower cheese, masala-ed up mousakka, tandoori fried chicken– all of the above are pretty much guaranteed to make me come over ever so slightly herbal essences. So when Richard Vines, his adorable aunt and sister in law suggested trying out the City branch of Bangalore Express one blustery evening I was in.

As we descended into what can only be described as a visual migraine, the huge geometric black, red and white designs ensconced us like the wet nightmare of some coke addled 80’s interior designer.A gaggle of staff sweated anxiously into the bowl of papadoms placed before us – I was deeply impressed. Garlic is my MSG and this was the one and only highlight for me. The combination of a home made pickled garlic dip, all seductive smoky sauce and crisp greaseless papads was champion.

When we were kids my mum would try to recreate those picture perfect dishes of Christmas lunch that she would see on the telly, in between the ad breaks for In Sickness and In Health or Mind Your Language. She would optimistically deep fry whole raw potatoes and sprinkle them with curry powder before putting them in the oven with the chicken (she always found turkeys crude – why on earth would anyone want to eat that much meat?). She’d beamingly serve them to us as if to say “Ha! Piece of pakora”. Being a precocious little brat I declared them to be quite inedible and more importantly, nothing like the stuff I knew my best friend Louise down the road was tucking into. (I still can’t believe I used to sometimes turn my nose up at her efforts in favour of Findus Crispy pancakes). For all things Bengali her cooking was faultless, but her forays into English food were culinary pile ups.

I’m afraid to say that Bangalore Express took me right back to those rank tatties. I’ve blocked most of what we ate from memory as it was so many hues of wrong. Masala fish and chips, was grease-ridden curried batter cloaking flaccid, putrid grey flesh. An Indian calzone came next. I mean really. If ever there were two words that ought to be legally segregated…Think thick, stodgy coriander flecked pastry shamefully concealing an insipid scraping of tomato puree and the sort of mozzarella that makes Saino’s basics pizza cheese look like La Fromagerie’s finest. Then a smelly crab dish that delicately combined essences of mud and stale Patak’s and not very much else. Some miraculous dhal was apologetically placed before us. Miraculous because I have no idea how it’s possible to render this dish so completely and utterly tasteless. We passed on dessert.

As I fled home to Whitechapel and breathed in the heavenly scent of Tayyabs wafting down my street I very nearly kissed the ground.


  1. I wasn’t over-enamoured with this place when I went before Xmas. Thankfully we didn’t go for any fusion-y mains but the “tapas” we had to start were truly shocking! Chicken tikka masala cocktail sausages were the lowlight!

  2. Oh dear. Masala fish and chips sounds like it could be quite nice, but Indian calzone is a hundred types of wrong. Your post has reminded me of my folks cooking ‘English’ food for dinner too- quite often frozen mini pizzas with oven chips and peas!

  3. Oh deary me! Well, thanks for suffering so we don’t have to, that’s the only positive thing I can think of anyway. ‘A smelly crab dish’ Gross. Just gross. I am in agreement about the ‘Indian calzone’ – that’s the very definition of confusion right there. It could never be good. Ever ever.

  4. Mr Teaspoon

    Sounds truly shocking.

    I had a bash at Urban Turban (Vineet Bhatia’s street food gaff) and decided to order some portions of “pizaan”, which actually went down pretty well with my guests. By the time I tried one (chicken tikka, I think it was), I was several bottles of Cobra to the good, but I recall enjoying it. I think the key might have been that while it resembled a pizza, the ingredients were all Indian – so paneer instead of mozzarella and so on.

    If you ever go to Urban Turban, the tandoori salmon smoked with honey and mustard is definitely worth trying. It has been on most of Vineet Bhatia’s menus over the years and I just can’t get enough of it. Sadly, my attempts to recreate it at home have never quite succeeded – probably due to the lack of a tandoor!

  5. Dan

    Aha – Fantastic… last, somewhere truly awful. Somewhere you can sink your teeth into and vent your spleen about.
    I almost long to eat somewhere so trulyu abysmal that I can, with clear conscience tear them a new one on my blog.

    Good work Rej. I really enjoyed reading this.

  6. gastrogeek

    Mr Noodles – those sausages sound rank!
    TFI-mini pizza eh? Do our parents know each other?!
    Helen- Oh it truly was thunderously vile, “the horror the horror” as they say…
    Mr Teaspoon – this sounds like the perfect antidote, that tandoori salmon in particular, thanks for the tip off!
    Dan – thanks! You’re right, i really enjoyed getting this out of my system 0 it was probably the only good thing about it. That and hanging out with Richard’s rellies who are quite lovely.

  7. Sharon

    I went to the one near Waterloo last week, the night before you published this post. I went for one of the ‘big plates of curry and rice’ (tiger prawn rogan josh), and it truly was awful, like a microwave meal. Weirdly my friends thought it was pretty good and were going to go back – I won’t be!

    I also just wanted to say I love your blog – you are a fantastic writer.

  8. Sweet mother of god, that looks rank. Poor you!

  9. Jeez, this sounds pretty vile.

    I can definitely relate to the Indian gussying up of English dishes though. My mum always did this, bless her, whilst I petulantly moaned about not getting mini chicken kievs. I was a fool.

    I’m still not sure how she manages to make any non-Indian dish taste slightly Indian though.

  10. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew!

  11. i loved the story about your mum, Rej. it’s sweet and heartwarming. (and i can relate!) x shayma

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