“ INDIAN. 2/3 St Patricks Sq. Tel: +44 (0)131 667 9890. „
The comment "WOW" was what one of my 'confirmed carnivore' friends said after his second mouthful of the vegetarian fare that he had loaded onto his plate one lunchtime at this fine restaurant (grumbling a little before that exclamation). One of the delightful aspects of DooYoo is to gain a 'circle of friends'. This is a two-way system – you can add names to your ‘circle of friends’ and others will add you to their own ‘circle of friends’. As your time goes on with dooyoo, the number of your friends increases BUT, if yoo upset any sector of the DooYoo community, then you most definitely ‘lose friends’ (just like in real life – or is it just me?). It has happened twice with me in DooYoo, by telling the truth, as I usually do in what can be termed a ‘full-frontal’ manner - ‘letting it all hang out’, so to speak. The first of these occasions was when I told my true feelings about the Monarchy in a commentary, and the second was where I ‘nailed my colours to the mast’ in a manner that would generally 'offend' sensitive vegetarians, again in a commentary. On these occasions, when I logged on a day or two later, I realised that the number of people who had included me in their Circle of friends had decreased, by 5 and 3 respectively. There is no way that I can redeem myself as regards the Monarchy position, but I shall attempt to doo it as regards vegetarians by writing about a vegetarian restaurant. Now here is a confession for a confirmed carnivore - one of my favourite restaurants in Edinburgh is, in fact, a vegetarian Restaurant. ‘Kalpna’ is on St Patrick Square. Its location is easily described. The main road south, from the East End of Princes Street, goes over North Bridge (with Waverley Station below) crossing the Royal Mile just to the east of the Tron Kirk, along th
e thoroughfare known as South Bridge (which goes over the Cowgate), past the old University Buildings into Nicholson Street and hence to South Clerk Street. It is at this junction that the main road forms the eastern side of St Patrick Square. Thus, Kalpna is not in a Square as such, but on the left, on the main road out of Edinburgh, approximately 1 mile from Princes Street and just before the Odeon Cinema on the right. My first visit to Kalpna was in 1984, when a potential client suggested that we should have a ‘working lunch’. The local authority Laboratory where I worked at the time was situated just off the Royal Mile and, after a brief discussion, he asked if I liked Indian Food. When I confirmed that I did indeed enjoy a good curry he suggested that we should meet at the Kalpna Restaurant, and gave me directions. Was I in for a shock, when I discovered it was vegetarian ! I didn’t complain. I thought – well, it’s only lunch, but was I in for a treat ! The Kalpna Restaurant specialises in Gujarati cuisine and is entirely vegetarian. I believe (from the flavour of some of their products) that they will use butter-Ghee in their cooking which may rule it out for some varieties of vegetarian. If so, my recommendation to them is to turn a Nelson eye to such considerations. Believe me, you won’t regret it. I have lunched here frequently since and it is a favourite ‘stand-by’. Parking is available on near-by meters, e.g. in Buccleuch Place to the West of the Square (20p for 12 minutes). The ‘bomb-site’ car park at Potterow is often full. Lunch takes place between 12 and 2 and is a self-serve buffet. You cannot book tables – just turn up. It is very popular at lunchtime, so you may have to wait for a table. I always try and get there ‘on the dot’ at 12, for the best table and best selection. Cost - £5 a head - no tokens, no require
ment to have wine or beer (they are always delighted to provide jugs of iced water). There are always at least 4 choices of main course (usually 6) and rice. I always have a pathia bread or Naan (which is extra, but I never check the prices, I just give £15 cash for 2, at lunch, which would include a reasonable tip). The main feature of the buffet lunch is that you can really ‘pig out’ and keep going back. The choices are always based on lentils (and similar dhal dishes), potato and egg plant with different flavourings. Okra is occasionally present. Always a good selection – I always try a small plate of the ‘selections’ first before boring into my favourites. I always wear my extendable belt when I go there, and never, ever a subsequent attack of the Karachis (although there is a certain ‘je ne sait qoi’ odour about in the bathroom for a day or so after a lunch). The service is excellent and cheerful, and there are usually a good supply of local characters who eat there regularly and ‘enjoy’ themselves with witticisms with the owners and the waiters. I have eaten here in the evening, and it is my ‘treat’ for friends who I know love curries. Most of them are most definitely carnivores, so like me would not have considered such an establishment in the normal course of things. Prices, of course are not as reasonable as the lunchtime buffet, and the quality of the lunchtime fare cannot be improved upon. One of the problems with most of the ‘run-of-the mill’ curry houses throughout the UK is the quality of the meat that they use. Surely you realise that the ‘so-tender’ chicken that you find in those yellow and red ‘curry sauces’ are not ‘tender chunks’ of chicken breast – they are what Public Analysts refer to as ‘reformed meat’ *. *Now a quick food chemistry lesson. The egg-laying flocks of
chickens, once they have ‘squwarked their last’ tend to be ‘tough old boilers’ (go on, Lord Percy, tell me that those are the ‘birds’ you prefer). They cannot be sold for roasting, so it would seem that two possible ‘fates’ await them. KFC certainly used to use chicken portions for this source for its ‘cuisine’ The portions were boiled first, chilled or frozen, and then coated and fried. Now however, I believe that most is well-cooked at factories, stripped from the bone as a slurry and then ‘reformed’ (with the aid of phosphates and other water-retaining chemicals into ‘likely-looking‘ chunks. It is these ‘chunks’ that appear in most curry-house curries, and that is why they seem so tender ... Sorry to destroy the illusion, folks. I understand that Kalpna regularly wins prizes from veggie reviews of eating places, and I am not surprised. Go there and enjoy. Indeed make it a 'must go' event when you visit Edinburgh. If you are there for two lunches, and want to stay close to the centre, also try Craigs Restaurant or Annapurna (if you are a confirmed veggie) - opinions to follow.