Swagat. Calle de Alonso Heredia, 22. Madrid

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Christmas dinner, 2010. Twenty-five colleagues and a boss. Doesn’t sound like the most inviting prospect, but when your meal and drinks are being paid for and it’s the only thing the organisation pays for in the entire year, you can be forgiven for considering it a ‘perk’.

The food at Swagat is actually quite good, not at all UK Curry-House like its Lavapies counterparts, but smooth, slick and hearty nonetheless. They really do need to amp up the spices a little bit, but this is a common complaint of Indian food in Madrid. The blandness is, I assume, due to their genteel Serrano clientele who are unaccustomed to Delhi-belly and fiery-rings.

The white tablecloths and overly-polite service would’ve bothered me any other night, but when you’re getting tanked up on free booze and ’tis the season to be jolly, I couldn’t give a masala turkey what the other diners think. I ate, drank, swore, beat my chest and didn’t care; I had every right to be there as a proud Indian getting a complimentary dinner from a British organisation’s branch in Madrid. And there was a large paxaran waiting for me at the end of it all, also paid for, as the Xmas-dinner budget really did stretch that far.

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Metro Diego de Leon

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