Tuesday, 21 April 2009

New Tayyabs

naan bread
tinda pumpkin curry
The tinda pumpkin curry

Baby aubergines and dahl
Baby aubergines and dahl

salty lassi topped with caraway seeds
I used to hang out quite a bit at the London Action Resource Centre or LARC on Fieldgate Street in Whitechapel. The building was bought by a trustafarian activist as a place to host anarchist events and meetings. F.I.T  (Police Forward Intelligence Team) were always outside filming us, tracking 'dangerous' activists.
Opposite is the building where George Orwell dossed when he wrote 'Down and Out in London and Paris', now poshed up as City pied à terres. And next to that is a restaurant where there are always lines of people waiting outside.
This restaurant, New Tayyabs,  turns out to be the food blogger's mecca, which even has it's own Facebook fan page. Daunted by the queues, I tended to eat on the corner, a formica table joint where I'd be the only white woman. The breads are fresh off the griddle and their Sag Aloo rocks. It was hard to eat for over a fiver.
A week or so ago I made it down to New Tayyabs having finally had the foresight to book a table. I took the teen. 
Hanging over the restaurant awning is a winking blue neon sign... almost downtown Lahore. But the clientele is not only Pakistani but white, Chinese, Indian, anyone who loves good food.
New Tayyabs has one of London's few proper naan bread ovens. You see the waiters going past with stacks of these breads, the plain ones cost £2, melted butter ghee nestling in the dents of the steaming dough. 
Sitting down you are immediately faced with a tray of three sauces, yoghurty mint, mango and tomato and two poppodums, plain and spicy plus a little dish of salad. Sauces are authentically spiced to Pakistani standards.
Following @hollowlegs suggestion I ordered the pumpkin curry, Tinda Masala, not something I'd usually ask for. Thank god I took her advice. It was far and away the best thing I had. The little pumpkins (not sure what kind) were small, sweet and orange. This is the kind of dish that, if you were in prison, dreaming about good food, you'd order when you got out.
I also ordered Sag Aloo £4.80p(to compare with the corner, nice but not as good I'm afraid). The mini aubergine and dahl curry (Dailil Baingun £5.00p) was an unusual combination for me, nicely oily and stickily seasoned.
People tend to order the excellent breads (£2.00 to £2.50 depending on what type) rather than the rice but the pilao rice (£2.50p) was so good, perfumed and buttery. My teen picked the fish, Kasahi curry, £7.00p which she wolfed down. And mind, she is fussy.
I was disappointed with the salty lassi topped with caraway seeds, too thin for my liking. I did enjoy the Malai Kulfi, vanilla Indian icecream (£2.50) made in house, which the waiter rolled in his hand to warm it up sufficiently to extract from the plastic bag. 
I need to return really, I was so stuffed. I did ask for everything to be put in a doggy bag for the next day. 
In some ways it's unfair for a non-meat eater to review a primarily meat cuisine but even a vegetarian would be delighted with the food. The bill was £30 for two.


  1. Thanks for that review! People are raving about New Tayyabs but I'm not big on meat so I wondered if I'd enjoy it. Now I know!

  2. Errrm I happen to live in said "pied a terre" - I love the smell of Tayyabs in the morning.

  3. Hubby and I went there many times, and it is without a doubt our favorite Indian food in all of the UK. We were there ever since Tayyabs was a little hole in the wall, and over the years it has majorly transformed. We always go there with my husbands family for birthdays and stuff. You must try the peshwari nan next time. It is so deliciously sublime!!!

  4. Hi gastrogeek (nice blog btw)
    How interesting! What is it like living there? Are the places nice?
    Who lives in George Orwell's room? or Stalin's?
    The windows look kind of small from the outside...is it light inside?

  5. HH
    I totally love peshwari naan. I was just so stuffed. But will definitely try it next time.

  6. Our flat is great, we have the biggest windows in the building and chose it because of all the light ( my fiance was really particular about having a south facing window), however I've been told that back in the day when the building was a working men's hostel someone was murdered in the exact spot where my guitar now inhabits in our living room. Oh dear. Apart from that I love it - especially the sound of the Azaan every morning and evening from the mosque....I love your blog - you sound like such a like minded soul!

  7. Gastrogeek, thank you!
    It sounds really nice there.
    Do you get any weird energy?
    Just found out from upstairs neighbours that they've had to have their flat exorcised as they were sharing it with a female ghost and a phantom cat with poltergeist tendencies.
    I love the call to prayer. Best I've heard is in Fez, the one at 4 in the morning infiltrates your dreams...

  8. Your poor neighbours! That sounds full on. Our place isn't quite that bad yet, but there's definitely a strange "aura". (Mind you, I reckon the bell foundry down the road looks pretty haunted).

    Fez, how magical! Now that's what I call a proper melodic call to prayer, how gorgeous....

  9. Every single time I have been to tayyabs I've ordered that tinda - after ordering it the very first time on a total whim. I adore it. last time I went however it was below par and it nearly broke my heart! Especially because I had raved about it to everyone there for days previosuly.


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