The 2-8 October marked National Curry Week - one of many, many food and drink weeks, or often days - and a perfect excuse to enjoy a meal or takeaway from your local curry restaurant. It’s one a few that I am happy to partake in, so I decided to book Rickshaw and Co., which opened in Glasgow’s west end in 2022. Glasgow isn’t short of Indian restaurants and is the apparent birthplace of chicken tikka masala.
Chef Ali Ahmed Aslam, who sadly passed away in late 2022, came up with the iconic dish in the 1970s when a customer reportedly asked if there was a way to make the classic chicken tikka dish ‘less dry’.
Aslam added creamy tomato sauce to the dish and created what we know as the chicken tikka masala curry. In some versions of the story he actually added a can of tomato soup.
Along with iconic dishes, Glasgow is also home to some well loved Indian restaurants such as the long standing Mother India and Mother India’s Cafe as well as Ashoka, Chaakoo Bombay Cafe and Swadish. Rickshaw and Co.is one of the newest to join the line-up and is located in the former Hyde cocktail bar in Partick.
Set over two floors, the restaurant and bar serves up a menu inspired by street food from the bustling food markets of India and Bangladesh. Taking inspiration from their childhood and travels, co-owners Tushar Ahmed and Gulshan Soni wanted to bring the amazing flavours, colours and culture of India to create a new casual dining experience for Glasgow.
We went along for dinner on a dreich Saturday night in early October, and found the restaurant thanks to its bright red neon sign which gave off a warm glow in the rainy gloom.
Inside, past the reception area, with a rickshaw in the corner, the restaurant has a large square bar in the centre, booth and table seating, bicycle wheels with pendant lights adorn the ceiling that’s covered in Bollywood film posters.
Bright wallpaper, brick walls and rickshaw canopies give the room a vibrant, modern feel. There’s a mezzanine level and terrace upstairs, overlooked by a Rickshaw and Co. mural on the adjacent wall. The cocktail menu reflects the interior - bright and modern and, for me, too full of fizzy juice and sugary drinks for such an autumnal night, so we both went for fruity mocktails - a pineapple cobbler £4.50 and me and a mango maza mule £4.95 for my boyfriend.
After asking about the menu and how many small plates we should order, we decided to choose three starters, two curries and a rice and bread to share.
Quick off the mark were our starters - grilled bhutta (£3.95), fish pakora (£4.95) and bhel puri/jahl muri (£4.50).
The grilled bhutta, Chowpatty style beach style grilled corn ribs tempered with butter, chilli and lime were two small corn on the cobs (anyone who has been to Ka Pao and tried their corn ribs may have been expecting slimmer, rib style servings) which were charred and dusted with chilli powder.
Neither the chilli, butter or lime were overly evident though the chargrilled style brought out the corn sweetness. A bit of a disappointment.
The standout dish was the bhel puri/jahl muri, which is billed as a ‘mouthwatering savoury snack’ made with crispy puffed rice, seasoned potatoes, crushed crispy pastry coated in tamarind chutney. This apparent carb fest was a delight of textures and complementary flavours - zingy hits of heat, sweetness from the tamarind and crunch from the puffed rice.
It’s not something I’d ever seen or heard of before, but glad we tried it. Something anyone in Scotland will recognise is pakora. A light night staple for many, it’s a must try and at Rickshaw and Co. they had chicken, veg and fish.
Our fish ones - four pieces served with a side salad and lemon wedge - had a light if slightly greasy batter and were perfectly fine, if a bit bland due to underseasoning. The accompanying sauces, in particular the tamarind, helped bring them to life a bit.
We then moved on to the curries - a Bengali king prawn curry (£8.95) and a Goan fish curry (£8.95) and sides of coconut rice (£3.25) and a roghani naan (£3.25).
The Goan fish curry consisted of chargrilled chunks of salmon in a coconut curry sauce with spices, curry leaves and dried chilli.
The grilled salmon had a smoky taste due to the chargrill, which gave an added element to this relatively mild dish. The Bengali prawn curry was rich and creamy with enough heat not to put anyone who isn’t a spicy food fan off. The prawns weren’t overcooked and the whole dish went well with the subtle coconut rice, which was punctuated with mustard seeds and desiccated coconut.
The naan, which also had desiccated coconut as well as cherries, nuts and sultanas was really sweet, with the cherry a bit overpowering, but it complemented these curries due to their coconut base. For dessert, we shared the sweet and sticky traditional gulab jamun (£4.50) which was a small enough portion to not be too much.
Rickshaw and Co. is undoubtedly a fun and funky restaurant but some of the dishes don’t live up to standard and the service was a bit slow, despite it being a quiet night. But the best dishes were not the usual classics.
As there’s no longer the excuse of National Curry Week, I’m still on the fence as to whether I’d choose it over somewhere like Mother India but may need to head back once the weather is better to try some more street food (they have good lunch specials) and possibly a cocktail on the terrace.