Tuesday 4 October 2011

Off The Blog 6: Curry Special

The food of the Indian sub-continent that is served up in London is often inauthentic and formulaic. However, there are an increasing number of eateries breaking free from the shackles of tikka masala to offer more interesting fare. Here are three of them.

Samosa chaat
Brixton Village's Elephant styles itself as a purveyor of authentic Pakistani street food and its short menu certainly hits the spot. A starter of samosa chaat, with its abundance of chickpeas, would do as a light meal in itself.

Vegetarian thali
For something more substantial, I recommend going for a thali. I liked my vegetarian thali so much that I actually forgot that cauliflower is on my list of verboten veg! Drawbacks? The naan was a tad anaemic but I can forgive them this given the limitations of the tiny kitchen.

Elephant. on Urbanspoon

Elephant, 55 Granville Parade, Brixton Village Market, Coldharbour Lane, London SW9 8PS
Nearest station: Brixton (BR, Victoria Line)

Next stop is Isleworth where I enjoyed a fantastic meal at the Cinnamon Lounge. I can't take credit, though, for uncovering this gem. All the kudos must go to the Mysterious Mrs A who put her foot down when her hubby (my old mate) El Greco wanted to go to a bog-standard curry house.

Chicken methi, jeera rice & garlic naan
The great thing about this restaurant is that they consign many of the 'curry house standards' to the back of the menu. Instead they focus on starters such as machli amritsari (fish fillets with ajwain) and mains like murgh kalimirch (a black pepper based chicken curry).

The consensus around the table was that there wasn't a single duff dish. But don't take my word for it; much of the clientele was south Asian including a fair sprinkling of matriarchs who are notoriously hard to please.

Cinnamon Lounge on Urbanspoon

Cinnamon Lounge, 181 Twickenham Road, Isleworth, Middlesex, TW7 6AB
(Tel: 020-8560-8995) Nearest station: Isleworth (BR)

Salaam Namaste
One could also be forgiven that Bloomsbury's Salaam Namaste was a run-of-the-mill joint especially as it serves a lunch buffet. However, scratch beneath the service and the à la carte yields many a delight. From the specials board, the duck kebab was a winner as was the spicy soft shell crab from the regular menu. Onto the mains and there are unusual choices like wild rabbit achari and narangi duck. My personal favourite is the Goan green chicken curry and my friend enjoyed his Keralan monkfish curry.

Salaam Namaste on Urbanspoon

Salaam Namaste, 68 Millman St, London, WC1N 3EF (Tel: 020-7405-3697)
Nearest station: Russell Square (Piccadilly Line)


  1. I've been meaning to try Elephant in Brixton for a while now. I keep strolling past it, but always going onto somewhere else. Next time.
    I'm finding naan breads very generic these days. But as you say it's a small kitchen, so cannot blame them for taking short cuts in certain areas.
    There are some real gems in the Hounslow area. I keep forgetting to ask where we get our monthly lunch from at work.

  2. I need to get to Elephant, still. Especially if they serve some form of samosa chaat.

  3. Mzungu/Sharmila - that's the thing with Brixton at the moment, there's far too much choice! I'm slowly working through them myself...

  4. Hmm, i like the sound of Elephant, and if i'm down that way i'll try it out. There is something to be said for sub-continental restaurants that go for a fairly short menu, it's what Delhi Grill in Islington do, and their food is ace. I guess short means they can concentrate on what they do well.

    Closer to you, if you are ever in Honor Oak Park, do try out Babur, it's very good, gamey Indian cooking. Definitely worth a trip.

  5. GWorm - Elephant is good, but the queues are lengthy. Thanks for the tip of Babur - game cooked Indian style - intrigued.