Glasgow has enjoyed a busy few weeks. At the end of last month it was host to some sporting event called the Commonwealth Games. You maybe read one or two stories in the press or caught a brief mention on the television news about it.
It was on a Tuesday evening during the Games that I visited Usha’s, a new Indian restaurant that specialises in vegetarian dishes.
It sits at Partick Cross, at the foot of Byres Road, a short distance from Kelvinhall subway station and Kelvingrove Museum.
Ordinarily, you would expect this part of town to be dead on a midweek evening. But the streets were still busy at 7.30 p.m. and there was a real buzz about the place. The restaurant was full of people wearing the distinctive red tracksuits worn by Games staff and volunteers. Judging by the variety of accents in the room, a fair number of the Australian and Canadian contingent were out as well.
Usha’s claims to be Glasgow’s first Indian vegetarian restaurant, and is fully vegan. This was a surprise, as there have been several excellent eateries of this sort in Edinburgh for years, and Scotland’s largest city likes to call itself the curry capital of the UK.
My partner and I started with matar kachori and paneer pakora. The green pea balls in pastry were a new one on me and very tasty, especially with rich chilli sauce. But the star of the starters was the pakora; soft, spiced Indian cheese in the lightest batter I’ve had — a far cry from the local takeaway.
We moved on to an impressive spread; paneer makhani, chana masala, house speciality dhokla and a beautifully fluffy garlic and coriander naan.
The curries were both excellent; the chickpeas sweet, sour and just the right amount of spice, the creamy cheese dish delivering a delayed kick of heat (although the second dish was more sauce than substance).
It’s a nice touch that Usha’s ask you how hot you like it (from mild to seriously hot). We chose desi, a middle ground — although I could be tempted to ramp it up a notch next time.
Braving new territory again, we tucked into the dhokla, made from fermented rice and chickpea batter. Spongey, full of savoury flavour and great with chilli and mint dips, it’s worth a try if you’re in the mood for something new.
It’s a menu packed with familiar favourites and not-so-familiar street food, and you could visit again and again and eat a different meal each time.
Usha’s Indian Vegetarian
2 Byres Road, Partick Cross, Glasgow
0844 884 9399