The Desi Digest – Hot Indian food finds for April

Don’t be a fool this April. From heritage Pakistani cuisine to twisted Indian street fare via Sri Lankan short eats, use that much-missed extra hour of daylight to seek out more desi delights for mind, soul and mouth…

THE RESTAURANT: Scarfes Bar at The Rosewood Hotel

Scarfes Bar Palash Mitra Rosewood Hotel restaurant Indian bar snacks

What if I told you you could get innovative, authentic and all-round exceptional Indian food on High Holborn? Well, you can – in the rather unlikely location of the Rosewood Hotel’s swish Scarfes Bar; a space that resembles a luxurious library (if libraries housed expansive back bars…).

Head Chef Palash Mitra is the man who masterminded the menus. During the day, munch a lunch of saffron-tinged Hyderabadi lamb stew, prawns steamed with the classic Bengali combo of coconut and kasundi, and Keralite beef biryani, first popularised in God’s Own Country by the Mopillah community.

In the evening, attack bar snacks like lobster momos, gunpowder chicken, hog jowl and marrow fat pea samosas and chilli curry leaf pork scratchings – great grazing for those working their way through the cracking cocktail menu and enjoying whatever form of live entertainment is occurring that evening; from jazz and soul right through to blues and cabaret shows.

  • Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood Hotel, 252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN. For more information, click here

THE SUPPERCLUB: Papi’s Pickles at The Elmore Jam

Papis Pickles social enterprise supperclub pop up Indian Sri Lankan Elmore Jam

For a little dose of South Indian and Sri Lankan sunshine in London, look no further than Papi’s Pickles’ latest pop-up, where you’ll get the chance to sample the social enterprise’s eponymous condiments. The evening is BYO, so keep in the Sri Lankan spirit quite literally by taking along a bottle of Ceylon arrack – or, for an equally-roaring evening, a few Lion beers.

What’s on the menu?

Cauliflower fritters & Spiced mackerel rolls


Puttu (steamed rice & coconut logs) & Coconut sothi gravy

Slow-cooked Chettinad lamb curry

Wambattu (Sri Lankan aubergines in spiced coconut milk)

Poppadams & Green chutney


Badusha (donut-esque pastry) & Palkova (milk fudge)

  • Papi’s Pickles’ ‘From South India to Sri Lanka’ supperclub costs £38.50 per person and takes place at 7.30pm on 7th April. Book tickets through TABL by clicking here

THE STREET EAT: Rola Wala’s new Slides & Slides menu

Rola Wala Hawker House new menu Slides & Sides Indian twisted street food Streetfeast London

Aussie Mark Wright gets it right again with his latest load of ‘twisted Indian street food’, served up by his rola-rollers on Friday and Saturday nights at Street Feast’s Hawker House venue in Canada Water. Rola Wala‘s ‘Slides’ encompass flame-charred coriander chicken on spinach & methi naan, Goan roasted pork on black charcoal & pepper naan, and paneer 65 on classic naan. Don’t decide ‘Sides’ are unnecessary; especially not the amchur-and-chilli-spiked paneer 65 ‘chips’. They’ll have to ‘rola’ you out…

  • Get a taste: Rola Wala’s Single sliders cost £4 – or nab all 3 for £10 – from Street Feast Hawker House, Canada Water from 5pm on Friday and Saturday nights.


Chit Chaat Chai Indian restaurant pop-up Tanya Rahman

The popular pop-up Chit Chaat Chai is opening a permanent restaurant this spring, majoring in co-founders Tania Rahman and Dhruv Haria’s Indian street eats.

THE COOKBOOK: ‘Summers Under The Tamarind Tree’ by Sumayya Usmani

Sumayya Usmani Summers Under The Tamarind Tree Frances Lincoln Pakistani cookbook

Legendary food writer Madhur Jaffrey loves Sumayya Usmani’s debut Pakistani cookbook and so do I. Add it to your wishlist and/or bookshelf and look out for a full review later this month.

  • ‘Summers Under The Tamarind Tree’ is published by Frances Lincoln, RRP £24.60. To view on Amazon, click here


Goan supperclub Assado gourmet Cyrus Pervin Todiwala Waterloo London Indian restaurant

Get ‘Goan’ over to Waterloo and let Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala and the Assado team introduce you to the flavours of India’s smallest state. Goa’s lingering Portuguese influence means dishes are often tomato-rich and chilli hot; almost akin to Med fare amped up rather nicely with spice. From spicy sausages and fish pickles, roasted pork belly and complex lamb curries through to egg-rich desserts like pasteis de nata or the many-layered bebinca, Goan food is easy to fall for yet hard to come by – and there’s no better way to discover it than with the Todi two.

  • The Gourmet Goan Club costs £35pp and takes place at 6.30 on 25 April at Assado, 157 Waterloo Road, London SE1 8XA. For information and to book, click here

THE HERO: Anber Razz

Anber Razz Little Black Cate Gourmet chocolatier London

From keen amateur at-home chocolatier to finalist in last year’s Great British Spiced Chocolate Challenge, Anber’s creations just keep getting better. Little Black Cat Gourmet’s chocolates are well-executed, beautifully-presented, and often take flavour cues from India – think jasmine, cardamom and rose. Rumour has it that their maker will be treating guests at TABL‘s forthcoming inaugural blogger social to a taste of her talents – so expect a lot more hype around this very cool Cat soon.

Star buy… The Mughal Chocolate Collection

Little Black Cat Gourmet Anber Razz mughal-royal-chocolate-collection

A bejewelled keepsake box comprising an assortment of saffron-barberry-and-cardamom Cacao Joon; Gul, flavoured with rose, kewra, cardamom and pistachio; and pomegranate-packed Soorkh.

THE RECIPE FOR SUCCESS: Mallika Basu’s Chilli Chicken

Chilli-chicken-and-hakka-noodles-by Mallika Basi Chindian Indo Chinese recipe

A little bit Chinese, a little bit Indian… what could be more lip-licking or tastebud-tickling? Bengali domestic goddess and all-round raconteur Mallika nails a dish whose origins lie with the historic Chinese community of Calcutta. Click here for the original post – and the recipe for the Hakka noodles shown in the picture above.


Serves 2


  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 600g boneless chicken thighs, chopped into bite-sized chunks
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 large green pepper
  • 2 green finger chillies, slit
  • 2 tsp ketchup
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • shredded lettuce, spring onions and green chillies, to serve


  1. Place the cornflour in a medium mixing bowl and stir through the salt and black pepper. Add the chicken pieces and toss to coat evenly.
  2. Set a large wok over high heat and add two tablespoons of the oil. Dust the excess cornflour off the chicken pieces and sauté for 10-15 minutes until cooked though, stirring vigorously to scrape off any cornflour that sticks to the wok.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked chicken to a bowl, then add the remaining oil to the wok and sauté the onions and garlic for 5 minutes, until golden. Drop in the pepper and chillies and stir-fry for another couple of minutes.
  4. Return the chicken and its juices to the pan, add the ketchup, light and dark soy sauces, and stir-fry until the chicken is evenly coated and oil starts appearing on the surface of the ingredients.
  5. Serve hot on a bed of shredded lettuce, with the spring onions and chillies sprinkled on top.
  • For many more recipes (and razor-sharp writing), visit and connect with Mallika by following @MallikaBasu on Twitter,
  • To read a review of Scarfes Bar, chick here
  • To read more about Rola Wala, click here
  • To read more about Assado, click here
  • To read more about Mallika Basu, click here
  • To read more about Indo Chinese food, click here
  • To read more about Little Black Cat Gourmet, click here

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