Show me a kitchen without a drawer overflowing with cleaned-out plastic containers that once held takeaway curries and I’ll show you a householder who probably survives on a diet of toe nails and belly button fluff.
Takeaway curry is as central to 21st century existence as posting pictures of cute kittens on Instagram, insulting people on Twitter and pouting on Facebook like a vain goldfish.
But bloody hell there’s a variation in quality – some good, some fine, some like the spiced outpourings of a dyspeptic goat’s rectum.
Which is what makes the long-established Milan Sweet Centre in what used to be called the Balti Triangle an absolute gem.
For its vegetarian food is home-prepared and absolutely stonking.
It’s become a bit of a port of call over recent months whenever I’m hungry, in need of a chilli hit and can’t be arsed to cook.
My latest visit inevitably included an order for samosas, here rustic and (I hate this word – but it fits the bill) authentic.
The pastry is as tanned and blistered as the skin of an Essex girl who’s spent too long sipping cocktails on a Benidorm beach.
It’s thin and crisp and within is a generous amount of potato, pea and other vegetables that are nicely soft and deftly spiced.
A red sauce made, I think, with yoghurt, mint and chilli is a perfect match.
Likewise a little salad of shredded vegetables.
The three curries that I ordered were also skilfully spiced – providing plenty of chilli heat, but also revealing layers of other Indian spices.
Mattar paneer was a lovely thing – chunks of firm Indian cheese in a sauce enlivened by lots of sweet green peas.
OK, the peas had gone a bit grey through overcooking but that’s not going to make me grumble. I’m bald, for pity’s sake, so to me grey would be a blessing.
A chickpea curry was blushing pink and bursting with vibrant flavours.
Aloo bengan – a spud and aubergine combo – was satisfying, with a gravy enriched by lots of slowly cooked onions.
The roti ordered as a side – light, almost neutral of flavour – were a great accompaniment.
Much of this food – for servings are generous – remains uneaten in my fridge and will probably emerge for lunch.
What a treat.
You know, this may well be my favourite takeaway in the city.
Need to know
There are a few seats at Milan Sweet Centre but it’s basically a takeaway.
Expect to pay £3.25 for a small curry, £3.95 for a larger portion.
There are plenty of snacks and appetisers, too.
The food is vegetarian.
You can phone ahead with orders.
Parking in the area’s not easy.
Milan Sweet Centre
191 Stoney Lane, Birmingham B12 8HB. 021 449 1617.