This Thursday sees the arrival of the food market at the Southbank Centre’s annual Alchemy festival; and, trust me, this is one KERB you won’t need to get kicked to. No – if you’re a fan of any kind of South Asian gastronomy, you’ll be there of your own volition, and pronto. From luscious lassis to chaat worth talking about; Desi-ccated cocktails to Indian-accented truffles and sweet treats, you’ll find it here for twelve tasty days straight.
Covering India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, with 30 traders curated by market maestro KERB, Alchemy’s edible ensemble is no Curate’s Egg – this line-up is all killer, no filler. So get yourself in the mood with #KERBdoesAlchemy‘s own suggested playlist, ‘Curried Jazz‘, and read on for some tastebud-tickling picks… and don’t forget that it’s Happy Hour at Alchemy every weekday from 5-7pm.
Who: Horn Please
What: Bhel puri, masala dosas, samosa chaat and insane kati rolls – ask for double anda
Why: This is veggie food with verve: colourful, healthy, and downright delicious. And a chat with (or indeed a chaat from) Sandhya and Gaurav will never fail to lift your spirits.
Who: Dosa Deli
What: Veg-led dosas of all descriptions, medhu vada bites and other delights
Why: Double-D’s duo Kristian and Amy conduct regular research trips to South India and fuse traditional tastes with wider global ingredients to excellent effect.
Who: Kothu Kothu
What: That Sri Lankan hash-slash-stir fry of roti, egg, veg and/or meat
Why: The theatre – you’ll hear the KK crew’s metal blades slicing and dicing against their pans before you see them. Flavours are fresh and explosive.
Follow @Kothu_Kothu on Twitter
Who: Baba G’s
What: Spiced-up burgers supplemented with witty bits like ‘pachos’ – poppadom nachos
Why: Because big Baba chooses to fuse a perennially-popular fast food with bold South Asian flavours, and his menu allows you to relish the best of both worlds.
Who: The Chocolatier
What: Truffles, flavoured chocolate bars, enrobed fruits’n’nuts, chocolate jams…
Why: Aneesh Popat’s ‘thing’ is dairy-free, water-based ganache – yielding truffles with clarity of flavour. Many of his creations have a decidedly Desi accent
While you’re there….
Pop into Royal Festival Hall’s foyer for Desi Pubs; a photographic exhibition which explores the Black Country phenomenon of struggling boozers being reincarnated as well-patronised hangouts serving the local Asian (and, indeed, non-Asian) communities with phenomenal Punjabi fodder. Think sizzling mixed grills and oven-fresh naan at pocket-friendly prices: unfussy food in fuss-free surroundings. For Alchemy, the Desi Pubs story is set out by half-a-dozen photographers portraying the same number of venues, providing a feast for the eyes and food for thought.
- Desi Pubs shows from 18 – 30 May, 10am – 11pm daily at the Central Bar, Royal Festival Hall. For more information, click here
- #KerbDoesAlchemy is at Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX from 19 – 30 May. For times and more trader info, click here
- For more about Rola Wala, click here
- For more about ‘all things dosa’, click here
Image credit: Desi pubs image by Jagdesh Patel