Sick of street food? Nah, me neither. And nor, it seems, is London at large – or so the perennial popularity of the capital’s multi-site markets like Street Feast and KERB would attest. Even the Michelin men (and women) are in on the act: Singaporean stalls like Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle and Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle got the esteemed inspectors seeing sufficient stars to afford the hawkers that very accolade.
And now KERB’s embarked on its most ambitious, delicious project yet: a 35-trader-strong, seven-day-a-week market in Camden Lock. It’s good news for anyone with an appetite, but especially advantageous for Indian food fans – because the North London location hosts all sorts of South Asian stallholders.
From authentic eats like Sri Lanka’s kothu roti and Kolkata’s kati rolls through to Brindian burgers and high-taste, low-cal curries, the only thing harder than knowing where to start is knowing when to stop.
Meet your makers
Thoroughly Brindian grub from Alec Owen and co. Standard nachos not yo’ bag? Try Baba G’s pimped-up poppadom version; loaded with an avalanche of paneer, chicken, lamb, saag…it wouldn’t surprise me to find the kitchen sink in there. Wraps and burgers are made decidedly Desi with marinated meats and all manner of chutneys and relishes. Also known as Bhangra Burger, the whole shebang’s as loud and lively as the eponymous musical genre.
Kati rolls just are one of the many, many cultural treats the city formerly known as Calcutta has gifted to the world, composed of an egg-anointed, tawa-fried, flaky paratha enclosing a flavoursome filling. Having fallen for the street snack on their travels, Kolkati founders Jack Hogarth and Kate de Lord’s spin on the classic features paneer, chicken, or a blend of both; further loaded up with imli chutney, raita, pickled onions, tomatoes, chilli and coriander.
You barely need music when Dhariny’s Kothu crew is in action. The company is named for a Sri Lankan speciality based on roti that’s deftly chopped into tiny pieces directly on the hotplate with a pair of steel blades, blended into a heavenly hotchpotch with spice and all things nice – including egg, coconut, and your choice of mutton, chicken or veggies. Dolloped with garlicky yogurt and lashed with lime juice, kothu roti is perhaps the most satisfying stir-fry you’ll ever eat.
I like fresh naan and I cannot lie – and these guys make them to order before your eyes, plunging them into the tandoor built right into the stall. Choose plain, garlic or sesame (or do as I do and ask for ‘everything’), opt to add cheese (because why wouldn’t you?), then pick a filling: chicken masala, tandoori chicken, beef seekh kebab, or, for a Pakistani spin on a chip butty, go carb-on-carb with aloo bhujia. It’s fitting that Roti House’s founder is an ex-accountant, because the whole formula adds up to ‘delicious’.
Ghee-free? Really? Yes, and served by a lovely Punjabi lady to boot. Sonita wants to feed you well but help you stay skinny – not easy when you’re faced with an array of her homemade curries and decide that trying them all would be an excellent idea. There’s lamb and aubergine, there’s chicken and red pepper, there’s chickpea & spinach, there’s mixed veggies, there’s a luscious yellow dal. And there’s a mixed box option – seeing as they’re so healthy, you’d be nothing short of silly not to…
More KERB cuisine for spice-lovers
In the mood for spice of a different sort? Then try these treats…
Killa Dilla‘s Killa Fritas: Crispy potatoes, frazzled onions, grilled pickled red onions, pickled jalapenos, KD cheese sauce, chipotle mayo (plus non-negotiable ‘optional’ extras of smoked short rib and avocado crema)
Yu Kyu‘s Japanese-style tonkatsu curry served over white rice or in a burger bun
Crabbieshack‘s Soft-shell crab burger with pickled cucumbers, chili, coriander and wasabi mayonnaise
Burger & Beyond‘s Hot Mess: 45 day-aged beef patty, Pepperjack cheese, jalapeños, lettuce, and chipotle mayo on a brioche bun
BBQ Dreamz‘s slightly-sweet, aromatic, velvet-gravied Filipino-style chicken curry with coconut rice
Ink‘s Salt and Szechuan pepper crispy squid with pickled chilies, coriander and spring onions, sesame dressing and smoked chilli mayo
Louisiana Chilli Shack‘s Voodoo Chicken Chilli: Chicken, white beans and corn in a cream cheese, lime and japapeno sauce with Cajun spice
Kimchinary‘s Chilli aubergine and ssamjang winter greens toasted Korean burrito
Mac Factory‘s Posh Spice: Mac’n’cheese with chorizo, harissa, and caramelised onions
Makatcha‘s Indonesian beef rendang curry with rice, veggies, Malaysian peanut cauce and Singapore achar pickle
Oli Baba‘s Iraqi/Israeli sabich: Fresh pitta stuffed with charred courgettes, sauerkraut, and salad, topped with toasted seeds, sumac, parsley and schug (the Middle East’s answer to salsa verde)
And to wash it all down…
These are not just any sodas – these are BBC Food & Farming Award-winning sodas. And there’s one for everybody; whether you fancy a Salted Lemonade with your kati roll, prefer to pair a Pomegranate + Rose refresher with a lamb and aubergine curry, or just want to toast the whole shebang with a cheeky (alcohol-free) Nojito.
- KERB Camden is open for trading seven days a week, from 11-6pm Monday-Thursday, 11-10pm Friday-Saturday, and 11-7pm on Sundays
- For more information on KERB Camden, click here
- For more on South Indian and Sri Lankan cuisine, click here
- For more on Kolkata street food, click here
- For more on healthy Indian food, click here
Image credits: KERB/All Things Meaty