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Tayyabs – a London institution!

February 26, 2012 3 comments

Tayyabs in Whitechapel, London has a similar reputation to Chacha’s Kebabs in Khan Market, Delhi (see last post). Unlike Chacha’s though, Tayyabs has consistently churned out the best kebabs in London and I’d rank them in the Top 5 in the world of the places I’ve been to specifically for kebabs. Note, here I’m only talking about Indian/Pakistani style kebabs and not the doners and shawarmas of the middle east.

Having had mixed success in Delhi last week, I decided to suggest a Sunday lunch trip to Tayyabs to compare whilst the memory of the kebabs in Delhi was still fresh in my mind. So this lunch time we headed off to East London.

Tayyabs occupies two adjacent plots in a side street not far from Whitechapel station. You would never just walk past it as it’s in a predominantly residential street. However once you do reach it, and especially in the evenings, you will know you’ve reached the best kebab place because there will be a queue of people waiting for tables just outside the restaurant and on Friday and Saturday nights, halfway down the street. Tayyabs don’t take reservations. They don’t need to. People come from far and wide to dine here.

Today, having arrived for an early lunch, there was no queue and we were seated quickly. This is not to say that the place was empty. There were only 2-3 tables vacant and we occupied one gratefully. Original Tayyabs started out as a smaller restaurant but the phenominal success of the food encouraged the owner to extend to the next plot which at one point must have been a pub, judging from the Saloon Bar door inside and Truman Breweries sign outside. Although you can’t get a pint at Tayyabs, it’s a ‘Bring Your Own Bottle’ restaurant.

Today I noticed a new menu. Well, it looked new but thankfully the contents were the same. The only thing that had changed was the prices. To be honest I’m not surprised they’ve put their prices up. Tayyabs is incredibly popular and successful and was always known for being tremendously cheap and cheerful. Not serving alcohol, I often wondered how they made any money!

Today, we ordered exactly the same as we always have. A portion of tandoori lamb chops, a pair of seekh kebabs and half a tandoori chicken along with a garlic naan. My only small gripe with Tayyabs menu is the absence of Roomali Roti (see last post on Delhi Kebabs) which would be a perfect accompaniment to the seekh kebabs.

The perfect lamb chops

The portion of lamb chops arrives on a sizzling hot plate. You can hear the order coming your way even before it leaves the kitchen. Often, however, I am disappointed as the waiter walks straight past my table to serve it to another table. That’s because the lamb chops is the most popular order at Tayyabs. There is no point in dining at this restaurant if you don’t intend to order this dish. The chops are thinner than the ones you would get at Sainsburys, but my god are they long. The bone is left on long and has plenty of meat on it to chew before you’re finished. The meat is sparingly spiced and the chop is cooked for a very short time in the tandoor so it’s nicely charred from the outside and very slightly pink near the bone.

The Tandoori Chicken is also on the bone and is perhaps the best anywhere in the world. The meat is beautifully marinaded in cardamom and other spices and cooked to perfection. The flesh falls off the bone and melts in the mouth.

The chutneys – yoghurt and mint, mango and spicy tomato – perfectly balance each morsel of food. All in all, I am happy to report that nothing has changed at Tayyabs and it remains, in my humble opinion, the best kebab house in the country!

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What have Peru, Japan and India got in common?

March 31, 2011 2 comments

A great lunch venue in Cusco!

In the last post I talked about the exquisite and expensive lunch we had in Lima savouring the delights of the sea. Since then we travelled south  to Cusco which is a splendid looking city at 11,000 ft. The difference between Lima and Cusco is considerable – one is the administrative capital of the country whilst the other the ancient centre of the Inca civilisation; one is full of the noises of modern living, the other sleepy and relaxed; one is at sea level, the other high up in the clouds. Both are steeped in history and interesting places to visit. We however, have chosen to spend a lot more time in Cusco to explore the mysterious Inca world.

Today, as we walked down the terraced streets behind Plaza de Armas, a lovely old gentleman persuaded us to eat at his restaurant. They were only serving the menu del dia and we decided to give it a try. As we sat down, he brought us a basket of freshly baked bread – in Cusco this looks like a round pitta but thicker. He gave us a thimble of Cusqueño salsa with it which is a fiery chilli sauce to be used for dipping torn pieces of bread with . For an appetiser he brought us a battered and deep fried sweet potato croquette followed by a consomme served with a piece of braised beef, white potato and carrot. For mains there was a choice of beef in peruvian sauce (coriander and thickened stock) with steamed rice or an escalope of herbed chicken with fried potatoes and broccoli. We went for one each. All this came with a freshly squeezed glass of jugo de manazana (apple juice).

All of the food tasted home-cooked. It was delicious, filling and obviously prepared with love. This lunch cost us S/10 or £2 each! If the coastal food of Peru has semblance to the Japanese cuisine then with the use of fresh coriander, chilli and spice, the provincial food has an affinity to Indian cuisine!

Categories: Food, Peru Tags: , , , , , , ,
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