In one of the curry capitals of Britain, Mother India’s Café puts a little inventive extra twist on one of the world’s most popular – and too often unimaginatively done – cuisines. That twist is curry served tapas-style, borrowing the Spanish tradition of serving lots small dishes (around 40 on the à la carte menu alone) rather than a few large ones, giving diners near limitless options for mixing, matching and sharing.
It’s proven an irresistible formula since Mother India’s Café opened in 2004, immediately across the road from Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. It was the first expansion of a chain which, besides the main restaurant a few minutes’ walk away on Sauchiehall Street, now additionally comprises several other smaller outlets (deli/bistro Dining In is immediately next door, and there’s another branch of the café in Edinburgh). The feel is atmospheric, with a nod to colonial-era Indian restaurants in the retro smart furnishings and décor, and the various black and white photos hung on the walls.
Everything is cooked with the finesse and imagination you’d expect of the venerable Mother India brand, be it standards such as fish and potato fritters, vegetable pakora, chicken on the bone with spinach, lamb karahi or aloo gobi with green beans, or daily changing specials ranging from roast duck to haddock and lentils. £5 per dish is about average, and portions are of a sufficiently good size that just three or four plus a couple of sundries (you can’t eat a curry without the sundries) should sate the appetite of an average pair of diners. If not, you can always add more as you go. It’s a small frustration that you can’t pre-book, so be prepared to queue for quite some time during peak hours. But it all adds to the enjoyable sense of informality and out-of-the-ordinariness that makes Mother India’s Café such a unique and enduringly popular proposition.