The story of how Glasgow’s Mother India grew

The story of the famous Glasgow curry house Mother India and its founder Monir Mohammed is mixed up with recipes in this innovative book.

Mother India at Home follows the format set out by celebrity chefs like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in telling a story about the chef rather than simply explaining how to cook dishes.

Mohammed has an interesting story, and it’s one that reflects the growth of Glasgow as a multi-cultural city. When he started out as a kitchen porter aged fourteen, most Scots were happy with a chicken korma. By the time he started his own restaurant, his own tastes and those of the city had developed.

Mohammed was lucky enough to spend some time with family in the Punjab, where he learned the ancient principles of Indian home cooking from scratch. He came home and mixed these with Scottish ingredients to create modern classics.

Legendary dishes such as ginger and green chilli fish pakora, seasoned Scottish haddock with Puy lentils, and Delhi-style Scottish lamb are all in the book.

Mohammed’s Eurocentric take on Indian cooking has been hugely popular. He started Mother India in Glasgow in 1990 before expanding to fi ve outlets, including tapas, take-aways and a Mother India Cafe in Edinburgh.

The book is a welcome opportunity to try some of the dishes at home. It is also a celebration of Glasgow, with gorgeous pictures by Martin Gray and innovative design. The personal story of Mohammed is one of hard work and survival against many setbacks, but throughout it all the food always shines through and reflects the experience of his own mixed heritage.

Mohammed’s recipes stand for playful simplicity. They are true to their Punjabi roots but combined with a fl air and audacity that reflect Mohammed’s genius for experimentation and fusion. Hajra Bibi’s Special Salmon, the first recipe in the book, is aptly named after his mother who introduced the dish.

Perhaps we should be thankful that the ‘cardboard frisbee’ or deep-fried pizza, another staple dish of Mohammed’s childhood in Glagow, was somehow missed from the menu.

Mother India at Home, by Monir Mohammed and Martin Gray, published by Preface, £25.

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