It has been a busy few months for Glaswegian Satty Singh and his family who own Mr Singh’s India. Not only have they opened Tapas at Singh’s restaurant at Braehead, but they have also secured a deal with Costco which sees Mr Singh’s World Famous Chicken Bhoona being sold as a ready meal and it will soon be followed by his famous Curry Pie.
Sales of the Costco Chicken Bhoona and Pie will also benefit Mary’s Meals, following a decision to link up with charity and support a Mary’s Meals project in Bihar where the charity serves up dahl and rice in classrooms and to street kids living on railway platforms.
The restaurant group is also donating cash from every main course tapas and a la carte dish sold in their restaurants to Mary’s Meals. Satty Singh told DRAM, “It really is a phenomenal charity. It only costs 6p to feed a child and £12.20 to feed them for a year.
Now we will have tent cards on every table in our restaurants which say “enjoy your meal and by doing so you will feed a child.” When I caught up with him at the new Tapas at Singh’s restaurant for lunch, he was quick to say that although, he is the one sitting down with me, it is a real family business, with everyone having a say in how the business is run today.
The purpose of our lunch was to introduce me to the families most recent concept Tapas at Singh’s. He told me, “This is for the grand weans.” It is run by my son Mark and my nephew Ryan, and their partner in Tapas is Kieran. Not only that but Head Chef Barry has moved over to Tapas at Singh’s from Mr Singh’s.” Says Mark, “We have taken the favourite dishes from Mr Singh’s India and are serving them at Tapas at Singh’s. He explains, “When my dad opened Mr Singh’s in 1994 we did fusion.
Fusion at the time was a unique selling point. Fusion came in because of our mix of cultures. He wanted to bring Indian food and Scottish produce together and Haggis Pakora came out of that as did our Curry pie, (there is also Haggis Chasni and Mince & Tatties Curry) and now tapas takes us to a different level.
People may have two wee tapas which will fill them up, or they can opt for one of our curries.” Next year there are plans for a Mr Singh Cookbook. They have already seen a publisher and the idea is to put Mr Singh’s recipes in this book and sell it with at least £12.20 going to Mary’s Meals.
It will include recipes for what kids eat around the world, but it may not include the recipe for the famous Singh’s Ambala Curry which is a closely guarded secret. Says Satty, “There’s a good story around this. In 1990 when we were running the Colonial India in High Street the printers who were doing our menu were jokers – and since myself and one of the partners were Rangers supporters, and the chef was a Celtic fan, they changed the description of our Jaipuri dish – instead of reading from the pink city… they changed it to read from the ‘orange city’.
We didn’t spot it and they forgot to tell us, and we ended up with hundreds of menus and carry out menus with this on it. Roll on a few months and lo and behold I was in a restaurant in Hamilton and there was Jaipuri on the menu – with our ‘orange’ description.
They had obviously copied us (even the printer’s joke). So we decided we had to have something unique on our menu. So I said to my dad what was the first curry you ever made when you came to Scotland? He told us he was living in Aberdeen and used to travel five hours to Glasgow to buy his spices and in the 1950’s his Ambala curry was the dish of the day – so we put this on our menu as our signature dish.
The reason we call it Ambala is because that’s the city my grandad and grandma moved to after the partition in 1947 from Lahore, and is where my dad , uncles and Aunties were bought up.”
Mr Singh’s India remains one of the most popular and famous curry restaurants in Glasgow and no doubt Tapas at Singh’s will be just as popular. Satty concludes, “As a family we are always trying to be creative. After all life is like riding a bike, you can ride fast and you can go slow, you can go downhill, but if you stop peddling you stop and fall.”