As you can see from the picture, it is clear that summer has finished, at least for now. Even though my Veganism is in its second month, I have Meat Day once a week, and as I’ve always had a soft spot for this spur of the District line, cutting as it does a swathe of Victorian brickwork through the leafy suburbs of south west London from Earl’s court down to Wimbledon, your intrepid curry tasting analysis team set off for Parson’s Green. As you pull out from underneath the great glass canopy of Earl’s Court, you notice that London has changed- although it’s the usual parade of terraced houses and their back gardens, the details are different- all the window frames are in good order, all the roofs are straight and there is generally a well maintained affluent air about things. In the gardens, evidence of breeding runs to the occasional trampoline in fashionable battleship grey, but absolutely no primary coloured plastic home playground stuff, inflatable paddling pools or small pink inverted tricycles from Toys’r’Us to be seen anywhere near the real African hardwood decking with muslin sunshade or on the perfectly manicured tiny lawns. If it does exist at all, it’s probably safely under lock and key in the bijou green painted garden mini-pavilion, or shed, along with Nanny. Getting nosier still, a quick peer into the kitchens on the slower bits of the run reveals magnificent modern interiors, all concealed lighting, granite tops and real wood floors imported from nearby Knightsbridge, to better help Giles and Pandora as they laugh long into the night with friends, kicking back and taking precious time off from the stress of modern urban life. It’s posh here folks. It wouldn’t be that much dearer to live here if the trees, and there are many, sprouted fivers instead of leaves. Skipping forward in the narrative a bit, we found in a local estate agent’s window an advert for a four-bedroomed penthouse apartment, of achingly trendy modern design which looked a bit like loading bay C at the NIA in Birmingham. Six and a Half Grand a week they wanted. Laugh long into the night thinking about that.
This bit of the line was built around 1880. Parsons Green station is a modest affair, and I sense that it was all done with a bit of an eye on the clock, as it has a more functional air that the archaic glazed grandeur of the eastern end of the Met line from a little earlier. It also appears that the station has been modified over the years in the same clock-watchy way to adapt to changing needs. In this view down the stairs from the southbound platform we are treated to a nice 1930’s aluminium framed window on the right, an original Victorian arch overhead and a very strange brick-tardis-like structure with an unfinished roof which has a decidedly 1940’s whiff to it. For something which is to all intents and purposes a portakabin plonked in the middle of the ticket hall, it seems strange that the standard of the bricklaying, with its attractive darker vertical trim, has been executed with such care. Even architectural desecration was better in the old days.
If we have a look at a period photo of the booking hall, we can see that Churchill’s war-tardises are quite absent, but we do see the fine Victorian glazing above the doorway-
Which thankfully is still present today, painted in attractive dark green-
Moving outside, the Victoriana is rather less impeded- in this rather nice crepuscular shot I feel that the arch windows with their warm glow and illuminated underground logo are balanced rather nicely by one of the Fiver Trees mentioned earlier. Even on this small scale, there is a degree of spectacle and awe as the brickwork rises up around to demonstrate Victorian Man’s control over the elements, which for me is where the real fun in the pre-art deco Old Testament Tube lies.
To get to the curry house, you turn left out of the exit, walk a short way to the top of the road, left again on the Fulham road, and it’s up there on the right. I know I should be just dealing with Tubes and Ruby, but there is a too much of a huge treat in on the way to be ignored. Once you turn the corner onto the Fulham Road, you will walk past the shop front of The Aetherius Society. These chaps believe, and I’m lifting this from their website-
“Advanced extraterrestrial civilizations exist on other planets in this solar system. Science as we know it has not detected this life because it exists at higher frequencies of vibration on these planets. In The Aetherius Society these beings are sometimes termed “Cosmic Masters”, or even “Gods”, in deference to their high state of spiritual evolution.”
Callum found this hard to resist, and as they were still open for business, rushed inside to offer them folding money in return for the paperback they were selling. Graciously, the high priest behind the till sold him all the hidden secrets of the universe for a mere £9.50, and here he is with his trophy, shortly after dashing out of the front door before the High Priest could persuade him to fill out the self-fulfillment and direct debit forms, issue him with his gold cape and assign him a room in the commune Somewhere In Wiltshire.
On to the dinner now. Dalcha advertises itself as Hyderabad restaurant, taking its name from an Indian stew made from mutton, Channa Dal and Tamarind popular in the district of Hyderabad. Decor-wise, it stands somewhere in between a contemporary poncy place and a more traditional flock- wallpaper joint. I would imagine that this is because it was once a traditional flock-wallpaper joint which someone has decided to ponce-up a bit. It also smells nice when you go in. Spotless, the plain white walls, wood floor and modern dark wood chairs with cream upholstery are clearly designed to appeal to all the many Giles’es and Pandora’s who live locally. I say this because, as far as I could see from pressing my nose against the D-stock train window earlier, it looks pretty much like the insides of their dining rooms. The nod in the direction of the Flock past comes with a nice painted glass screen by the door with an Indian lady thereupon. Obviously too expensive (and to be fair, too pretty) to rip out during the Big Makeover, she stands as a timely reminder of a cosy curry house past, where Omelette and Chips could be purchased alongside the Vindaloo, all washed down with a nice pint of Dortmunder Union. Odd music was playing over the speakers- I would reckon it’s off a CD available only to the Asian catering trade called “World Moods” or something and consisted mainly of light techno droning with the occasional appearance of a bamboo flute or some non-specific ethnic twanging. Bring back the sitar playing “I Just Called To Say I Love You”, that’s what I say.
A nice chap guided us to our table. It had been belting it down with rain all day, and so it was very quiet in there that night. In fact, by the time the first round of Cora and Poppadoms had turned up, it was just Callum, me, him and the chef in there. The Poppadoms came with what were advertised on the menu as a trio of home made chutneys. One of these was clearly based on HP sauce, and another seemed to be mainly honey. As well as a wise smattering of Flock Favourites, the menu itself had quite a lot of references to its Hyderabadi roots, and also had some extraordinary choices of meat – I’ve never seen Kangaroo or Rabbit on a curry list before, and so the ordering commenced.
As it was an imaginative menu, we ordered imaginatively. For his starter, Callum had the Dalcha Seared Scallops, which were highly spiced and marinated scallop and king prawn kebabs, cooked in the tandoor. The good news was that Chef wasn’t afraid of the salt pot, and these tasted great- a nice burst of seafood and tandoor on every bite. I had Ajwani Paneer, which was essentially the same, but with Paneer cheese and slices of green pepper on the skewers. Our initial fears with the emptiness of the place and then HP Sauce with the popp’s was receding.
Here’s a fuzzy picture of the main course. I’m sorry it’s a bit fuzzy, it’s a new camera and an old git. The lager didn’t help, either.
I had to have the Kangaroo. It’s that dark coloured stuff towards the bottom left. Essentially, it was Kangaroo Tikka, and was lovely, like a gooier and more savoury version of Lamb Tikka. At fourteen-odd quid it was a bit steep, but I got a good generous portion of it, along with a little garnish of tandoori veg, so I felt that I got decent value for money. Callum went for the Lamb Dalcha and was rewarded with medium sized bits of slow cooked lamb in a nice thick sauce-tasty enough, but it lacked a bit of zing when compared to the Kangaroo. For our veg we had an Aloo Gobi Mater, or cauliflower, spuds and peas, which were cooked very well in a nice light sauce, and would be an excellent side dish to a hotter curry. The mushroom rice was, well, rice with mushrooms, but had a pleasing nutty crunch to it which offset the thickness of the veg very well. The Keema Naans were outstanding, thin and crispy, and drenched with butter. I was really pushing the envelope on meat day with these, but these were so nice that we ordered another portion.
In terms of carrying one dish forward to the regional finals of The Ultimate Fantasy Curry, I’d say that the Kangaroo would have to be the one. Should you find yourself peckish in Parson’s Green, err towards the Tandoor-based dishes in the Dalcha. Smoky and salty with good texture, these really deliver. Steer clear of the poppadoms and trio of home made things though- we were surprised to be charged nine quid for them and their HP sauce. That’s only 50p less than for the hidden secrets of the universe on sale over the road!
Curry available at-
636 Fulham Road, Fulham, London, SW6 5RT
Phone: 020 7731 6066
website : dalcha.co.uk
Answers to life available at-
The Aetherius Society
757 Fulham Road
London, SW6 5UU
Phone : 020 7736 4187