Calabash African Restaurant


BY 7.30pm this is all starting to sound a little like a Craig David song. Ordered on a Tuesday evening, around about 5.30, due by 6.30, but by 7, 7.05 and 7.09, we’re all going uh-oh. At 7.10 we’re ringetty-ringing Calabash, wondering where it’s all gone wrong. At almost 7.30 I’m literally saying: let’s just cancel. And then honestly a minute or so later the doorbell goes and by 7.35 we’re chilling with a goat curry.

Well, not quite, because this being Lockdown Life by 7.45pm I’m still scuttling grumpily around the table, unwrapping tinfoil, unrolling springy and aerated injera or Ethiopian flatbread and tearing a tiny corner off only to exclaim at its sourness, while also tidying the background (how long have these tangerines been in that bowl) to take the photographs to send to Garry at The Herald to use online who will immediately and automatically, as always, complain they are upside down. As if I know how to take a picture.

Oh, and here’s a lesson in late delivery. Debs who went to the door to distance-collect the order will come back full of praise for the bright, charming, warm and apologetic young delivery boy who therefore immediately takes the sting out of any delay and makes us feel kinda lucky by promising it’s all just been freshly cooked. For us.

Now, the trouble with the Lockdown Delivery Dance is this: everybody is hungry. The food is just sitting there. People nip in and taste things like those cassava chips (like normal chips except perhaps a little sweet), stand around and therefore don’t help but talk instead about just how sour that injera is, and is that a banana in the vegetarian special. No, it’s a bloody plantain. While I grump more. Conscious it’s all cooling. And actually it’s a couple of full-size plantain, baked within a sweetly, metallic, fairly seductive mix of peanut butter and spinach. Listen, you had to be there.

It’s been eight whole years since I was last at Calabash in the centre of the city and, frankly, I had to look up my laptop right now just to find that out. They’re pretty much an old hand, then, having been on Union Street in the city centre, or actually just under Union Street, since back in the day when the world was a normal place.

There’s an egg in my doro wot, a goat in my curry and lots of little chunky tomato and vegetable chunks in the fried rice. That fried rice is not only good, but a good job we got it because the separate tub of boiled rice is a fail. Dry and definitely not just-cooked. Do I hear a microwave pinging in the background?

Meanwhile some people in my family are refusing to eat the Caribbean goat curry for reasons I don’t even bother to ask, maybe their cute little scampering antics (the goats, not my family), but I have no such problem and can only say it’s a good job we didn’t order the isi ewu goat/lamb head which is apparently just what it says on the tin – except boiled.

I can report that I have no idea whether it’s goat or lamb or hogget or mutton in this curry but the meat is chunky and chewy if not strongly flavoured and the sauce is a both pale and light and mildly interesting. I enjoy more the spiced and crumbly potatoes throughout it.

Now the doro wot, the Ethiopian national dish, with a glorious boiled egg resting in its rich, chocolatey spicing is a different thing entirely. The boiled egg I am magnetically drawn to and it tastes as good as it looks. The chicken, a simple sectioned leg, is brought punching, pounding, juicily to life by the Berbere spice mix including cardamom, fenugreek, ginger and chill. This I could eat all day and still ask for more. It’s super spiced and deliciously salty, too, everything a curry should be. High five.

Calabash then? An entertainingly different home delivery.

The Calabash African Restaurant

57 Union Street


0141 221 2711

Menu: Ethiopian dishes, Nigerian dishes, all-round African dishes including staples jolof rice, egusi soup, that doro wot and even boerwors sausage. Interesting.

Price: We ordered on a Tuesday and got 20 per cent discount making food for three including delivery £33.68. Even without it the prices are reasonable at a tenner a main and a delivery charge that at £2 is frankly too low.

Food: So many unusual flavours and textures that it's hard to know where to begin, but the stick-out dish was the doro wot, the most memorable those injera.