CURRYBOND #4 Mirch Masala + Thunderball

The Curry Leg

As I walked down the corridor of curry that is Tooting High St I see a vision...a Spectre. A vision of a future CURRYBOND. A man in a bow tie, a brutish man with dead eyes, muscles rippling beneath his ivory white, what I can only assume, chefs jacket...He stares through my soul. He knows how much more Bond there is to come until he is called for to sate thebloodthirsty want of the noughties cinema go-er. Until then it seems I'll settle for a raised eyebrow, a cruise in a jet pack and slap on the bum of the nearest blonde...

Once I've shaken off this foretelling of a meat headed chef destined to raise the Bond franchise out of oblivion with the force of his pecks alone, I arrive at our next venue.

Mirch Masala, one of a hand full of curry restaurants that non-Tooting residents aka the curry deprived masses, might have heard of. It's ideally suited half way between Tooting Broadway and Bec slap bang in the middle of Tooting curry Mecca. Adorned with some distinctive red neon signage and only 1/11 letters failing to illuminate, not bad for your average tooting neon display.

I'm duly welcomed by an all new CURRYBONDer not just on time, but slightly early. This is a pleasing trend with all attendees present and correct by 7.15pm, omens were good for a full CURRYBOND before the inevitable descent into the curry coma. This 4th chapter also saw new heights to CURRYBOND attendance, the news is out, word was spreading, and at this rate CURRYBOND will end up investing £2,234.7 into the curry economy of Tooting!

So, the venue. Once inside the missing neon L is perhaps a symptom of a slightly neglected interior...missing light fittings, dodgy looking cabling and "hold it 'till you get home" toilets. Unfortunately none of this escapes the now seasoned CURRYBONDers who give Mirch Masala a venue score of 5.1/10.

But, as we know a curry experience is so much more than decor. After the CURRYBONDers settle in with a variety of beers courtesy of the BYOB policy, the food kicks off with the obligatory popadoms. But there's a problem, no mango chutney! So far unheard of on CURRYBOND, the 'doms come with a mint raita and a chilli sauce, but generally a little disappointing. Jobbers, a keen purveyor of the 'dom, takes this lack of quality as a personal affront and only crunches through one and a half crispy circles.

The bhaji's are up next, and things are looking up. We are presented with two mounds of the crustacean version of the onion bhaji, previously seen in CURRYBOND #2.

The comparison is inevitable, some say better some say worse, overall the conclusion is pretty good, and these bhaji's are rewarded with a 7/10.

Curry time! With the largest CURRYBOND crowd so far the variety we were able to sample was significant. Lamb Tikka Masala, Methi Chicken, Ginger Chicken, Chicken Keema, the obligatory Chicken Tikka Masala and a variety of naan. The menu variety on offer was excellent. Most of the curries come in a Karahi, while these particular metal dishes slightly resemble a dog bowl the contents certainly did not. The food was very good, the reference Chicken Tikka Masala in particular may be the best example so far. Positive murmurings all round, good portions, lovely thick spicy sauces. The chicken did go a little dry and the naans were perhaps on the thick side, but in general a satisfying curry spread. The heat was generally medium/low though the waiter offered to match any requests to beef the heat.

CURRYBONDers give the Mirch a food score of 7.1/10.

The common site of curry remains litter the table, the value assessment therefore is going well, along with the BYOB surely high scores are promised. The bill comes to £68.60 that's an impressive £9.80/CURRYBONDer! The first time we've dipped below £10/person a new benchmark in curry value.

Mirch Masala gets a CURRYBOND value score of 8.5/10.

So putting aside the venue, which to be honest is not why one comes to Tooting for curry, Mirch Masala scores well on food and value. An excellent bargain curry experience at the centre of Tooting.

Mirch Masala gets a CURRYBOND approved score of 7.1/10.

The Bond leg

With a horde of CURRYBONDers in tow it was back to HQ for a serious test of capacity...alternatives may be necessary.

We're now four Bonds in to the Connery run and I feel like we're old friends. Thunderball also welcomes none other than Welsh crooner Tommy Jones accompanying some writhing watery women in the latest Bond intro. Water, it seems, may feature in this film...

Bond's first foray, a funeral...not the typical event for some spy on spy action but this is James Bond. It's not long before Bond is smacking a woman in the face...but wait, this time it's not one of those jumped up "women" trying to justify their time outside of a bedroom. It's a transvestite mourner, determined to re-use that black dress at 007's wake! Who needs a Danish Girl when you've got Bond breaking the mould for trans henchman everywhere.

We're then treated to our first iconic Bond moment with a jet pack escape! That's right, Q branch has finally pulled its finger out and given Bond some real toys.

Soon enough we're introduced to our villain, Jimmy eye-patch or some such and his host of henchman, Barry polo-neck and Frank wide-neck...so the bad guys aren't particularly notable. We are however still in Spectre territory, which means some good (spoiler alert) Blofeld action, with cat in hand and minions presenting their achievements. Unfortunately for American minion he chose the electric chair and tonight is fried minion night on the Spectre menu...

The dastardly plot has a bit more threat than previous outings. Now we've got nukes! The classic, "pay us or else" approach seems fine until inflation kind of dulls the threat with a ransom of £100million...

Next up on the unlikely action venue is health spa. There's our hero, minding his own business forcing his way in to the pants of his physio when he's left alone on the spine stretching machine...not sure why these never made it to your local Fitness First. But look out, henchman alert, with Bond literally tied up at his mercy surely bullet in the head? Nah, let's just give him a REALLY long spine and turn this bad boy up to 11!

The Bond girls, it seems always come in threes. In this case they are somewhat interchangeable. Bond obviously has his way with all of them which doesn't help distinguish which ones are trying to help him or kill him...

But the real star of Thunderball is surely the shorts...many many short shorts. They really steal the show from their host, Sir Sean, who is shown fully clothed in approximately 2% of screen time. The reason for this explosion of swimwear is that Thunderball pretty much spends the whole time, in water, next to water or dreaming of being in water. Clearly having spent a fortune on a giant swimming pool the producers were determined to get their monies worth. We've got planes landing in the sea, divers in all shapes and sizes with special diving buggies, shark tanks, SCUBA, snorkels and more harpoons than aCaptain Ahab themed whaling convention.

All this diving action does produce some pretty impressive set pieces with stabby, hapooney underwater fight scenes en mass.

Though this final scene gets pretty indulgent once it ticks past 15 minutes!

Inevitably Bond disposes of the bad guys, gets the bombs back and ends up floating in the CIA provided sex float with Bond girl number 3, but what's that weird plane flying over? Rather than have a relaxing cruise home, Bond plumps for the mid-air-plane-catch-a-wire with girl attached method...smooth.

Overall an enjoyable watery romp. CURRYBONDers score Thunderball.

Girls n gadgets - 7.0/10

Cheese - 5.7/10

Action - 7.2/10

Overall - 6.5/10

Which gives CURRYBOND #4 a score of 6.8/10, our best combined experience so far!

 

CURRYBOND will return in Dosa N Chutney + You Only Live Twice

CURRYBOND #3 Radha Krishna Bhavan + Goldfinger

The Curry Leg

CURRYBOND is clearly hitting its stride. Arriving at the start time, 7pm, to not just one CURRYBONDer but two! Clearly public shaming is the way to go to encourage punctuality. That being said The Banker was still tardy, however only 15 mins late is a minor miracle. So by 7.15pm we had a full complement, including the latest addition to the CURRYBOND family, George's Legacy, our first eponymous CURRYBONDer.

So to our latest curry venue, Radha Krishna Bhavan (RKB). It's an established Tooting classic. One of the many advantages of exploring curry restaurants in Tooting is they have helpfully located themselves in a geographically accurate configuration...sort of. This venue features South Indian cuisine and is located south of Tooting Broadway with many of it's other South Indian compatriots (see future CURRYBONDs Dosa N Chutney and Onam).

The venue itself is probably summed up in one word, "homely", which may come back to bite it when it comes to the food. There's a rather nice exotic palm tree theme to the decor with various authentic looking objet d'art adorning the walls. Some of which Jobbers described as "lovely brass balls"...The restaurant started filling up from 7.30pm which provided a nice hum of atmosphere to go along with the scenery. All of this adds up to a strong start with an average venue score from the CURRYBONDers of 7.8/10.

With our curries ordered we eagerly awaited the next chapter of the Bhaji Bible. The variety on offer looked good with a number of South Indian curries not seen on CURRYBOND as yet. As with many South Indian offerings there's an excellent selection of veggie dishes, most seem to be side dish size, but all seem like good value.

RKB take the ball approach to the bhaji, with 5 balls for one serving, good stuff. In general, bhaji's are tasty and crunchy-ish, overall not bad but not quite reaching the heights from CURRYBOND #1, these little fellas get a 7/10.

Important to note that this is our first CURRYBOND without bringing our trusty supply of Cobra beer. RKB is not BYOB but offers alcohol on the menu, unfortunately the promised Kingfisher is scribbled off but Tikka Gold and the ever faithful Cobra is on offer for £3.95/per 660ml bottle. Pretty good value and predictably the CURRYBONDers rack up the Cobra's in preparation for the curry bananza awaiting them.

The curry arrives, on the menu this evening, old faithfuls chicken jalfrezi and lamb bhuna, some veggie sides beetroot thoran and brinjal, and some newbies including chicken malabar. No naan on offer, so parathas were the bread of choice. Not forgetting the reference...but wait...no chicken tikka masala. Our first compromise to the control experiment, we dropped the tikka and plumped for chicken masala.

Overall there is a definite lack of heat, which I'm sure goes with the South Indian style, so if you're after a mild experience it's a plus, for these CURRYBONDers they like to come away with a slightly fizzing tastebud. The reference dish was frankly a little disappointing, the dominant flavour was tomato with a lack of spicy depth. Unfortunately this is where "homely" comes in again which was the dominant impression of the food, more home cooked than restaurant extravaganza...This all culminates in a food score for RKB of 5.4/10.

The bill comes in at a total of £79.50 that's £15.90/CURRYBONDer, so not cheap. There is however a Tastecard offer of 2-4-1 if you mention when booking on the phone. This took off the bhajis and the chicken masala from the bill which was good news. Overall the value suffers from a lack of a BYOB policy and results in An average value score of 5.6/10.

 

So as the CURRYBONDers line up for the official photo we add up the scores to average out to a CURRYBOND approved rating of 6.3/10.

 

The Bond Leg

Unfortunately we lose our newest CURRYBONDer for the Bond leg, George's legacy has clearly spotted her namesake's award and sticking with an attendance record of half a CURRYBOND.

So Bond #3, Goldfinger, the first of many gold themed Bonds. One can only imagine that after a finger, a gun and an eye, maybe Bond will one day meet his ultimate golden villain with a fully golden anatomy.

First off this Bond outing has a much slicker feel, proper Bond music, girls in golden pants writhing around, rampant misogyny and a dose of mild female abuse. So classic Bond all round.

We're introduced to the villain Goldfinger pretty much straight away and Bond proceeds to follow him around the globe in a masterclass of spying by introducing himself as a spy, getting locked up, escaping then coming back to say "hi remember me" and getting locked up again.

On the plus side he makes up for his spy skills with a host of excellent gadgets mostly in the rather nice Austin Martin which makes it's first outing with 007. Including the very first ejector seat! So gadgets, tick. How about henchman? SWOOSH! That's right, the sound of a steel rimmed bowler hat coming to decapitate you! It's Oddjob! Perhaps the greatest Bond henchman and obviously the best character in N64 Goldeneye multiplayer. He has little to say, but with hat action like that who needs a script. Henchman, tick.

Bond girl? None other than feisty stunt pilot Pussy Galore..."I must be dreaming..." Never before has a film, not found exclusively on restricted websites, used the word pussy with a straight face more times than Goldfinger. Impressive.

The dastardly plot involves gold, unsurprisingly, not stealing it but making it radioactive so the remaining gold in the market rises in value due to a restricted supply....that's right, a dastardly plot mainly appreciated by economists...pretty dull. When do we get a villain with a giant space laser!

So a good Bond experience, plenty of classic moments, the Bond crotch laser scene, "no Mr. Bond I expect you to die!" Which begs the question why he doesn't shoot him in the face...

The CURRYBONDers score Goldfinger

Girls n Gadgets - 6.8/10

Cheese - 6.5/10

Action - 6/10

and gets an overall CURRYBOND rating of 6.5/10

 

So CURRYBOND #3 gets and overall score of 6.4/10

 

CURRYBOND will return in Mirch Masala + Thunderball

CURRYBOND #2 Rayyan's + From Russia with Love

With CURRYBOND #1 a mere lost memory in the ether of time...a.k.a last Tuesday the stage was set for CURRYBOND #2.

A clear illustration of the success of CURRYBOND #1, this instalment saw a 20% increase in the number of CURRYBONDers. Forecasting out to CURRYBOND #24 we surely can expect a veritable hoard of 331 CURRYBONDers invading the streets of Tooting at Christmas, Sadiq, you've been warned! So with our new participant lined up we welcomed the second curry leg.

Curry leg

The venue, Rayyan's, a slight deviation from the curry Mecca of Tooting High St veering East along Mitcham Rd to this relatively recent (2013) addition to the Tooting curry scene. On arrival it's clearly spacious, more than capable of coping with the explosion in CURRYBOND participation. There's a glitter wall, always a plus and would certainly be on the list of requirements for the perfect CURRYBOND venue. Comfy seats, some music, and yes Shethers, they will be marked down for playing at least three Bieber songs in short succession. Overall a decent venue however scores dampened somewhat by the lack of other patrons...

 

Venue score 5/10

The second chapter gives us a chance to evaluate the future pitfalls of CURRYBOND, punctuality. Punctuality is clearly an issue...and with the Chairman spending his week mired in the depths of PRINCE2 this is surely an amber risk with a high likelihood. It's going straight into the CURRYBOND risk register. Having said that, one CURRYBONDer continues to buck the trend of creative time keeping and clocks in bang on time, official beer in hand.

 

The prompt CURRYBONDers get down to some curry action and kick things off with the reference starter, that's right, it's bhaji time! Probably the polar opposite of CURRYBOND #1's bhaji, Rayyan's have appeared to go for the mutated crustacean look to their curry starter staple.

Despite the appearance of the love child of a king crab and a Nik Nak, the flavour is good, texture is crunchy and portion is giant! So another good addition to the bhaji bible. It gets an impressive 8/10.

Now with a full complement of CURRYBONDers, the serious work of the curry can commence. On the menu is Lamb Madras, Chicken Jalfrezi, Chicken Karahi, Chicken Madras a special Afgan Lamb Karahi and of course the reference Chicken Tikka Masala. With a vague attempt to actually finish the meal only two rice were ordered but plenty of naan.

The curries look good, smell good and taste good. The Afgan lamb certainly goes down well with a nice level of background heat. The reference however is advertised with 0/3 chillis on the menu but seems to have been cooked in the same pot where a thousand chillis have been ground into oblivion to impart their spiritual fire to whatever curry comes near...in other words, it was surprisingly hot, but not unpleasantly so. The Madras' also gave a hefty kick. On average Rayyan's is getting a bog roll in the fridge rating of hotness, not quite reaching the blast chiller levels.

The CURRYBONDers score in the 'Good' range with 6s and 7s all round, therefore Rayyan's gets a CURRYBOND food score of 6.6/10.

There's certainly curry left in the pots and even rice in the bowls, so good portions all round and with another BYOB policy signs are good for the value scores. The total bill comes to63 exc. Tip making an average cost of10.50/CURRYBONDer a bargain without doubt. High value scores all round CURRYBOND value score of 8/10.

So with Bond number two beckoning we round off the second curry with a feeling of satisfaction, heavy wallets and well spiced taste buds. Food was good but again left room for improvement and the venue could have done with an injection of fellow curry crusaders, and certainly less Bieber.

Rayyan's gets a CURRYBOND approved rating of 6.6/10

 

The Bond leg

So with our extra CURRYBONDer this was an early test for the capacity of CURRYBOND HQ. So far no complaints, though if this growth in participation increases a new venue for the Bond leg may be necessary...

As we settle down for Sir Sean's second outing the signs are good. Classic Bond intro, classic Bond music which seems to have been the only music written for the film and used for everything from car chases to wandering around a hotel room unscrewing light bulbs...Before we know it Bond is wandering around a rather nice maze until Bam! Razor wire and James is dead. Right, film over CURRYBOND cancelled...no wait. It's one of those pesky Russian's who's nicked a rubber face making kit from Mission Impossible 2! So all is good, it's just Bond's latest Lungren-esque adversary getting in some choking practice for the annual CCCP choke off.

Back to Blighty where spies spend THEIR time throwing their hats on hat stands! Bond is soon off on his latest adventure to Istanbul, something to do with a hot Russian girl and code breaking...the important thing is he gets to pose with said sexy Russian on windswept shots of the Blue Mosque from the Bosphorus, lovely!

He meets up with local Turkish voyeur Kerim Bey who has decided that spying in Istanbul should have a certain maritime flavour and installed a periscope beneath the Russian embassy, that's right, mirror, pipe, spying.

After some excellent Bond girl seduction, in this case coming home to your hotel and finding a naked Russian in your bed, damn he's good, there's some explosions, some shooting, a gypsy carnival and he's on a train. He's got his girl, he's got his special case with the special thing he was meant to pick up, all is good...not sure why he doesn't fly home...but hey, who doesn't like a good train ride from Istanbul to London! Until Russian Dolph Lundgren turns up and he's brought his chokey wire! But first, dinner with Bond, obviously! What's the point in just killing him!

So they sit down to dinner, fish on the menu...wine Mr Lundgren? "I'll have a glass of red" ...Shit! He missed the sommelier week at Russian henchman school! That combined with one of the worst English accents this side of Dick Van Dyke, Bond's on to him! Couple of punch ups later and he's away, done deal.

But there's still one more iconic Bond moment to fit in when that short strangely Russian sounding hotel maid suddenly turns evil! That's right it's Rosa Klebb and she's got spikey shoes!

So down to the scores. Overall a much more satisfying Bond experience than Dr.No, the story bobbed along nicely with spots of action and a liberal spreading of Bond girls. We even get our first introduction to Q branch who provides a briefcase with gold sovereigns hidden inside, one can only assume to prepare James for his upcoming Captain Pugwash cross-over film.

The CURRYBONDers score From Russia with Love Girls n Gadgets - 7.2/10 Cheese - 5.8/10 Action - 5.2/10 Overall - 6.6/10 Giving CURRYBOND #2 and overall score of 6.6/10


CURRYBOND will return in Radha Krishna Bhavan + Goldfinger

CURRYBOND #1 Masaledar + Dr. No


The CURRY leg It was time. CURRYBOND was go! Five brave CURRYBONDers arrived at the first curry restaurant on this spicy odyssey, Masaledar. Perched nicely between Tooting Bec and Broadway it has been a long time favourite of these particular CURRYBONDers.
Jobbers, first to arrive. He’s clearly got his eyes on the Sean Connery award for best CURRYBOND attendance. Turnout is good, with The Banker third to arrive and only 15 mins late, we’ll keep an eye on that throughout CURRYBOND.

 


So to the venue, it’s glitzy sparkle fits in perfectly with the CURRYBOND aesthetic, comfy leather chairs, warm lighting and limited fluorescents will surely see Masaledar fire high on the venue score. Bathrooms are clean, adequately stocked with squeezy soap and received a thumbs up from Shethers, chief CURRYBOND bathroom reviewer. The gents hand drier however resembled an old man slowly exhaling his last breath on your hands. After collating the CURRYBONDers scores Masaledar gets a 8.1/10 for venue, the phaal is strong with this one…


Service was prompt, friendly and without incident.


The reference starter was available and duly ordered. 6 onion bhaji balls arrived accompanied by a rather nice spicy dipping sauce. Bhaji’s were very tasty, nicely crunchy without being burned and had a texture as Gills put it “quite falafelly”. Overall a strong start to the bhaji bonanza awaiting us, straight in with a 9/10 for bhajis.


But, to the curry. A good selection from the menu, which was relatively limited for a curry place, 8-10 main dishes per meat/veg on offer. Up first in CURRYBOND #1 Chicken Korma, Chicken Tikka Jalfrezi, Saag Murgh, Methi Gosht, Lamb Masaledar and of course the CURRYBOND reference curry, Chicken Tikka Masala. The curry looked good. Generous portions, notable by how much was left over (though January diets from some of the CURRYBONDers might not have helped). Quality was high across the board, the Methi Gosht was a notable high as was the Tikka Masala. The eponymous Lamb Masaledar however got a damp reception with Jobbers preferring the Tikka Masala. Naans were good, anti-vampiric levels of garlic, not too bready and big. A contender for the Naan with the Golden Gun Award. So overall, the food is very good, but the CURRYBONDers had the feeling we weren’t quite hitting the ceiling of curry Valhalla. So awarded the Food 7.2/10.

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The final category for the curry leg of CURRYBOND, value. Straight off the bat Masaledar hits it off with a BYOB policy, which we took advantage of. A £1/person “corckage” is added to the bill though judging by the bottles of official Cobra beer on our table a “bottle capage” would have been more appropriate. The total bill £88.20 exc.tip, that’s £17.64/CURRYBONDer. Relatively high considering the BYOB, as a result Masaledar gets a score of 6.3/10 for value.


So to sum up Venue - 8.1 Food - 7.2 Value - 6.3 However, the CURRYBOND experience is so much more than specific categories, so for each locale an overall score is presented, and for Masaledar it get’s a


CURRYBOND approved rating of 7.2/10.


The BOND leg After having way too much curry fun the CURRYBONDers had to get a shifty on back to CURRYBOND HQ if the feat of a curry and a Bond film in one evening on a school night was possible. On the way an early contender for the Christmas Jones award for worst CURRYBOND moment slapped me in the face when one CURRYBONDer (you know who you are) suggested “this whole CURRYBOND thing is fun, maybe some weeks we could go somewhere else instead of curry…”. That’s one strike.


We settled down to our first instalment of the James Bond boxset. Martinis were poured, lights were dimmed, Bond was go!


…1 hour in….


Not much has happened…he got a new gun, went to Jamaica, read some geological reports (that’s a plus), played Baccarat (now we understand the rules, probably the most boring card game ever created). One of the CURRYBONDers was drifting in to the inevitable curry coma. But wait, Bond’s on an island, and wait there’s a dragon!


…Oh…it’s just a car with a lighter and a can of lynx…


Oh well, here comes Ursula Andress! Who perks things up a bit with her shells and knife action. Then ¾ of the way through, Dr. No. The least Chinese Chinese villain ever to hit mainstream cinema. But wait, he’s got special metal hands and an aquarium with a wonky window. It was all going fairly tamely until the dénouement.
Bond has found himself in the latest in radioactive protection fashion straight off the KKK designs rejection list, and he has infiltrated the rather sparsely populated lair of Dr. No who is intent on firing a missile at someone…


“Chang why are you standing there!” Isn’t is obvious Dr. No, he’s turning up the danger on your nuclear reactor, whilst not laughing at the inflated henchman going about his business! That’s top quality secret agenting! This was too much for some CURRYBONDers who broke down in hysterics. An early contender for the Oddjob’s Hat award for best CURRYBOND moment.
So overall a pretty slow start to the Bond experience but with some excellent costume based lair comedy towards the end. CURRYBONDers were asked to rate Dr. No on three categories and the scores were:

Gadgets n Girls - 4.6 (good classic Bond girl moment but zero gadgets)

Cheesiness - 5.8

Action - 5.3

Overall - 5.6

Therefore the total score for CURRYBOND #1 is 6.4/10


A good start to CURRYBOND but I feel there is more to come.


CURRYBOND will return in Rayyans + From Russia with Love