Last week I looked at some of the best bits and greatest hits from some of London’s distinctly non-Desi menus, and offered up Amazon-style ‘if you like this’ alternatives from the capital’s Indian venues. If that post whetted your appetite to explore more in the same vein, read on. Whether you have Michelin stars in your eyes or prefer innovative street eats to fine dining, consider yourself catered for…
The dish: Sartoria’s Zucchini fritti
From the moment chef Francesco Mazzei’s Mayfair kitchen opened its doors last November, critics, bloggers and paying punters alike have been all a-Twitter about these lip-smacking snacks. Despite having humble side dish status, they’ve had as much hype as any of the many far-fancier mains – and little wonder. Both thinly-cut and frighteningly-fattening, these fries are far too easy to ingest by the fistful.
The Indian answer: Dishoom’s Okra fries
Everyone who’s ever proudly – and ignorantly announced – themselves as an okra hater (‘Too slimy! All those seeds!’) should be force-fed these snacks until they agree that they’ve misjudged the much-maligned vegetable. Lightly dusted in spiced gram four, they’re deep-fried then tossed with tart’n’tangy ‘magic masala’. You won’t find these crunchy-munchy lady’s fingers leaching slime like some kind of mutant vegetable slug.
Psst > Get the recipe here
The dish: Breddos Tacos’ Tiger prawn tostadas
Most visitors to Street Feast’s Dinerama or Hawker House food markets will be familiar with the unapologetically non-traditional yet incredibly tasty tacos and tostadas that comes out of the Breddo boys’ kitchen. Specials change in the blink of an eye, but keep yours peeled for the tiger prawn tostada with agave, pickled green mango, pomelo and bird’s eye chilli. Prawn porn? It just might be.
The Indian answer: Cinnamon Culture’s Jingha tacos
To my mind, Mexican and Indian cuisines share a lot of similarities. And it seems that Bromley fine diner Cinnamon Culture shares my thinking. The ‘tacos’ in the title are in fact petite puris, but they’re definitely less than a million miles from their South American counterparts. Serving as rafts for spicy, supersized prawns they’re evidence that ‘fusion’ doesn’t have to mean ‘confusion’ – this dish makes sense.
The dish: Oklava’s Chilli-roast cauliflower
This dish became notorious long before Peter Gordon protege Selin opened the doors of her own bricks-and-mortar establishment; back when the chef was still establishing her unique brand of Turkish-ish cuisine on the London scene through supperclubs and pop-ups. Featuring chunky hunks of chargrilled cauliflower rubbed with hot and sweet pepper pastes and seasoned with sumac, it’s a meaty treat that’s totally vegetarian.
Psst > Want to make it at home? Go on then…
The Indian answer: Gunpowder’s Sigri-grilled broccoli
Given gobi’s popularity in the subcontinent, you might expect to see this dish made with cauliflower rather than its lesser-used brassica brother. But where Gunpowder is concerned, one swiftly learns that any expectations will be both defied and exceeded. Chef Nirmal Save bathes broccoli in a sweetly pungent, distinctly Bengali mustard paste before scorching it on the sigri. Order the whole head instead of the half, because it aint ‘arf good.
The dish: Decatur’s Spicy rare-breed pork boudin
Whether you get your mouth around Tom Browne’s Deep South cuisine at his Druid Street Market stall or Decatur’s semi-permanent pop-up at Dalston’s Pamela bar, you’re in for a treat: think bold-yet-comforting soul food. Paired in the American fashion with pickles and crackers, the robustly-flavoured, stridently-spiced boudin is like a British banger on steroids. The meek of palate, beware – it kicks like a mule.
The Indian answer: Cafe Spice Namaste’s Tandoori Goosnargh duck sausage
Chef Cyrus Todiwala is known for his commitment to carefully-sourced, quality produce – as is the case with this quacking grilled appetiser whose main ingredient is farmed by Reg Johnson and his daughter Kara ‘oop North’ near Blackburn. One of Pervin Todiwala’s personal favourites, the fact that this sausage is a banger in every sense of the word shouldn’t come as a surprise.
The dish: Hungry Donkey’s Manouri & ladotyri cheese balls
Never mind the titular mammal – you’d do well to arrive at this little piece of Greece as hungry as a horse. Meat comes by the kilo (the souvlaki pork is forking amazing); but before you meet the protein, theres many a mezze to plough through. Greatest of the good are these crisp-shelled, creamy-centred cheese balls – salty little snacks which, when drenched in island honey, offer the ultimate swavoury hit.
The Indian answer: Cinnamon Soho’s Crab & curry leaf balls
Cinnamon Soho’s menu is a load of balls. That’s not rude, it’s honest. Order a mixed selection to share and enjoy a quintet comprising lamb shammi kebabs, Bangla beet-and-veg ‘Scotch eggs’, battered potato bondas, masala corn fritters and, best of all, these South Indian crab & curry leaf cakes. Round off your feast with chocolate golis – sweetmeats that’ll turn your spherical snack into a square meal.