CAN I book a table for this evening, I ask over the phone, only to be met by a Jamie Oliver-esque reply of: “Sorry, we don’t take bookings.” I press on regardless. I’m hoping to eat about 6pm, I say. I take it the restaurant will be quiet around then if I just turn up? “No, that’s our busiest time,” the voice continues.

I chuckle and say I’ll take my chances, knowing, as only we top restaurant reviewers know, that there’s not a restaurant in the whole mad, bad and occasionally sad – but only at the weekends – city of Glasgow that’s completely full on a Tuesday at 6pm. In fact most of them are deader than a very dead place.

And so at exactly 6.17pm I stroll in the front door of Ranjit’s Kitchen just off Pollokshaws Road poised like a coiled spring to hoist a wry restaurant reviewer’s eyebrow at the acres of empty seats awaiting. Yes, you know how this movie ends. It’s bloody mobbed. You couldn’t squeeze a lightly toasted paratha between the groups of people elbow to elbow at the four trestle tables in here.

Loading article content

Sabjis, thalis, the Panjabi tea for two with its samosa, pakora, tamarind chutney and trio of sweets – all these and more are winging their way from the kitchen through the back, where I assume Ranjit is, into the open shopfront of this little place. Meanwhile, I wait. I queue, I wheedle, I beg, and eventually I even suggest I have my meal at that low coffee table at the front door, where the takeaway customers who are drifting in here in surprisingly large numbers normally wait.

“Uh, OK,” says the guy. “We could probably do that for you.”

I rattle off my order: Ranjit’s special pakora (cauliflower, spinach, onions, spices), sabjj of the day (fresh vegetables in Panjabi spices) and sweet channa with homemade paneer (chickpeas and cheese).

“I’d stop there,” I’m told. “You’ve already ordered too much.” Really? I’ve only asked for three things and the bill has not even reached £12.

I’d quite like to try the paneer rolls (cheese, onion, spices, crispy filo), the channa special samosa (tamarind chutney, chickpeas) and aloo tikka special (mashed spicy potato). But having drawn far more attention to myself than is comfortable I back off. We compromise. I can have the extra dishes to take away along with anything I have not managed to eat from the three dishes I’ve already ordered.

And then it comes to pass that just as Ranjit’s special pakora arrives the couple at the bench table nearest me finish off and leave and I’m good to slide in to the crowd and start eating.

What’s it like? It’s very, very light, very crisp, saucily spiced, outstandingly good even, and in a portion that could feed two of me – or four slim people – for £3.95.

The sabji arrives, all steaming and succulent and covered in vibrant fenugreek. Proper potatoes, with a slightly crumbly feel, onions, masala. A meal alone for £3.95. “Was there ghee in that sabji?” I ask as I’m leaving with my full carrier bag in hand.

“Yes,” I’m told. I wonder what the ghee police would make of that. A light, refreshing and satisfying dish that doesn’t make me feel over-full.

“Didn’t you like the sweet channa?” I’m asked as I get up. I did. A mountain of chickpeas in a sweet and spicy sauce, chunks of Ranjit’s own paneer through it. I’m simply full.

Back at home I don’t even mention all the food is vegetarian as the family eat paneer rolls with onions and black pepper, handmade samosa, aloo tikka with spiced mash potatoes and a spicy batter. And nobody asks.

It’s almost three years since I reviewed Ranjit’s. Back then it was a quirky little family-run, and homespun, vegetarian restaurant which given its slightly awkward location on a rush-hour rat-run, could easily have disappeared without trace. It hasn’t. It’s gone from strength to strength.

It’s easy to see why.

Ranjit’s Kitchen

607 Pollokshaws Road, Glasgow (0141 423 8222)

Menu: Simple menu of Punjabi dishes including homemade paneer, pakora, parathas and curries. You probably won't even notice it’s vegetarian. 4/5

Atmosphere: It’s shared tables, elbow to elbow, vegetarian dining in a shopfront restaurant. Somehow it still all buzzes along. 4/5

Service: Great. A relaxed, family feel, with mum in the kitchen and the younger ones out front. 5/5

Price: I had three dishes, each of which was excellent and would have made a meal on its own. Not one topped £3.95. Bargain. 5/5

Food: The sabji with potato and fenugreek was the best thing I ate, but the pakora too was outstanding. Only limited by its tight menu. 8/10

Total: 26/30