I drove down to Nicholson Street on a warm late summer evening, pulled a u-turn just past Our Lady Help of Christians church and stopped the car just south of the Barkly Street corner. We got out and left the car unlocked. No-one steals Volvos. It was parked right outside anyway. We went in.
The door is still awkwardly propped ajar each evening around 5 o'clock, the decor hasn't been touched since the place opened, and the traffic noise still roars in off Nicholson Street while you wait for your order. We ordered and waited.
From my place you have to pass six or seven perfectly good curry houses to get to Singh's, but it's a nostalgic journey. I first visited here in 1986, and that was the year it opened. I might have been their first customer. The curry nearly blew my head off. A friend and I used to have competitions to see who could withstand the hottest curry. A lot of cold beer was consumed in the process. William, Thomas and Alexandra's much older brother and sister ate their first curry from Singh's. Mild for them, of course.
These days I usually order a serve of mulligatawny and an aloo chap, which is a deep-fried ball of potato mash encasing curried peas. You cut the aloo chap in half and pour some mulligatawny over the semi-orb in a bowl; a kind of exotic mash and gravy. That's the starter. Singh's garlic naan is a meal in itself; tear it open and stuff it with some coriander chutney and you'll die happy, smelling of garlic. They don't hold back on the garlic.
Then it's on to the serious curry. These days I stray into the curried vegetables territory. Curried vegetables bring a flavour and textural experience meat curries cannot offer. For example, roasted pumpkin and chick peas simmered in a coconut sauce turbo-charged with selected spices. Or eggplant in a cashew-based sauce with yogurt, powered with garlic, ginger and dusted with torn coriander. Then there's my old favourite saag paneer and other variations on cheese and peas and potatoes and spinach. These dishes are enough to turn any meat eater vegetarian.
Get a grip, Kitchen Hand!
- I'll have a serve of beef vindaloo, as well, thank you. Extra hot.
These days the vindaloo is no longer as hot as a furnace. They turn up the volume on demand. While we waited an associate of Mr Singh brought out several pappadums and offered them to William and Thomas who accepted them graciously and then nibbled them, leaving shards of chickpea chip on the floor.
There's only thing one thing at Singh's that has changed since 1986. And that it is the colour of Mr Singh's beard. Must be the strain of running a small business.
Singh's Indian Takeaways
43 Nicholson Street, East Brunswick
Like a child in wild anticipation,
I long to hear that "All aboard!"
Seven ... that's the time we leave at seven.
I'll be waitin' up at heaven,
Countin' every mile of railroad
track, that takes me back.
Never thought my heart could be so yearny.
Why did I decide to roam?
Gotta take that sentimental journey,
Sentimental journey home.
Rhyming 'yearney' with 'journey' was a masterstroke. No online rhyming dictionaries in those days. You had to use your head.