Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Tooting - I'm Not Worthy

Tooting is wasted on me. If I weren't such an armchair foodie then I'd probably do more of my food shopping in this part of town. There's so much vitality here and its infinitely more interesting than the sanitised homogeneity of the average British high street.

For example, when was the last time you saw such large watermelons at the your local Sainsbury's ? And where else, does every other shop seem to be selling Pakistani honey mangoes ? I was also well chuffed when I picked up a 5kg bag of basmati rice for £7.99 – half the price of what I'd usually pay.

After finishing my shopping, I decided to stop off for a quick bite before going home. Dosa 'N' Chutny seemed to be attracting loads of South Asian customers so I followed the crowds to this South Indian and Sri Lankan joint. I only intended to pop in for a dosa but seeing how cheap everything was, I went a bit mad and ordered two starters and a main. Oh come on, the samosas only cost £1 and they were homemade.

My second starter was the weekend special of tandoori quail (£2.95) and this was a superstar of a dish. Charred on the outside, juicy and succulent inside, and infused with spices throughout, this quail had been marinated properly and cooked to perfection. I'd forgotten that dishes from the tandoor could taste this good. I don't know why they gave me cutlery, as this was definitely a job for hands. Quite possibly, one of the best dishes I've eaten in my time as a blogger.

For my main, I decided against a dosa and instead went for kothu, a Tamil dish that isn't all that common in London. I went for the chicken kothu partotha (£4.25), which consists of chopped parotha (aka paratha) with chicken, egg, vegetables and spices cooked on a tawa, a kind of griddle.

When asked about the spice level, I mistook the question as a challenge to my masculinity so I demanded hot. With hindsight, this was a mistake as it was slightly too spicy for my liking. It was tasty though and I liked the contrasting textures but it did get samey after a while. This was probably due to the generous portion size and I couldn't finish it off. Next time, I think I'll go for the tandoori quail, followed by a dosa.

Well I'm going to make a mid-year resolution and that's to rely less on the supermarket. That means I'll be returning to Tooting to do more of my food shopping and it'd be remiss of me not to pop into Dosa 'N' Chutny although the vegetarian restaurant next door looks pretty good too......

Dosa n Chutney on Urbanspoon


  1. Tooting looks goooood.... Must take a wander down there one day soon ...

  2. Ah, some people have this thing about eating with their fingers. Then again, most street fare don't come with cutlery and all in its original form - I suspect the quail is one of them. Likewise with the samosa.

    Did you manage to cart back a watermelon as well? Some say that the larger it is, the less sweet it'll be. Not so sure about that though.

  3. Oh yes, when you mentioned this before, I was going to ask how finely-chopped the parotta was, but got distracted. It's a little hard to tell from the photo... was it very finely shredded, or just roughly chopped? I prefer the former style.

  4. Great market place. 5kg bag of basmati for £8 is a good bargain indeed!

  5. not sure where you live, but whitechapel has supermarkets like that as well (if it's closer?)

  6. Dave - thanks. Tooting is particularly good for South Indian/Sri Lankan food

    LC - like ribs, quail HAS to be eaten with hands. I didn't drag a watermelon back as I was on the bus.

    Kake - it was roughly chopped with different sized bits of parotta. I have no idea whether what is correct !

    3HT - this post was partially inspired by your Victoria St post. Tooting is a mix of Indian, Sri Lankan, and Pakistani run businesses and the food there is amazing.

    Tim - Thanks for the tip but Tooting is easier for this (adopted) South Londoner

  7. "I mistook the question as a challenge to my masculinity" - LOL classic :) anyway I love market style shopping too and usually go nuts when I hit Borough market (I even bring a big backpack to carry things home). Supermarket shopping is so mundane but sadly we are tied to that most of the time....

  8. That looks fine and strengthens my resolve to make the trek all the way across London and into the wilds of the South West. Mind you, some of the Bengali food you get in Taj Stores is good and the local Turkish grocers in Dalston are ace too. Cucumbers never tasted so good.

    I really like the look of the BBQ quail, and so cheap as well. It's funny, quail is a bird i have seen cooked in all sorts of countries, but never really in the equivalent national restaurants back in London, so it's good it's done here.

  9. Here's a not-very-good photo of one I ate at Papaya in Rayners Lane: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kake_pugh/3533502186/

    The waiter there told me that in Sri Lanka the rotis are chopped very very finely, but that in London a lot of places don't bother going to the effort.

  10. 5kg bag of rice! I wish I had a kitchen big enough to fit that!

  11. Oooh! I wish I'd done more exploring when I lived in nearby Collier's Wood all those years ago. That sauce served with the samosa looks so vibrant. (Nice new blog colours, BTW)

  12. Catty - sadly it is all too easy to rely on the supermarket but seeing that Tooting is only 10 mins away by bus for me, I'm definitely going to go there more often.

    Gworm - I've seen quail on some Vietnamese and Chinese menus in the smoke but in general, you're right in saying that its all too rarely found in London, which is a shame.

    Kake - thanks for letting me know how kothu should be. Coincidentally, the first time I tried kothu was in the Ealing branch of Papaya.

    GC - whilst my kitchen can accommodate 5kg of rice, I underestimated how much of a pain it was to lug it to the bus stop !

    Lizzie - it's often the places that are nearby that you end up neglecting, something I aim to right with more visits to Tooting.

  13. For those who like their curries in company with other fans, there is a group on Meetup.com called The Tooting Curry Club, with a monthly visit to a local restaurant. Don't have to eat your Indian meal alone!