1. Where do you live and what do you like best about your neighbourhood?
I live near Old Street. The thing I like best about my neighbourhood is the complete mix of people and styles – hipsters & pop up bars; local mosques; the green Vietnam-town restaurants; cockney flower sellers, river boat dwellers & people soaking up the sun. Finally there’s Brick Lane – a curious mix of terrible Indian restaurants, cash and carrys selling everything Indian you could ever want and people playing carrom on the streets. I love it all.
2. Where is home for you?
I’m never really sure how to answer that. I feel happiest when speaking English, listening to Italian, reading Irish authors, riding Spanish horses, eating Indian food and living from one trip abroad to the next. I suppose London is the best place for me really, as everyone here seems to be from somewhere else.
3. If you were back home now, what would be the first thing you’d eat?
Definitely one of my mother’s home cooked dishes. Probably keema – it’s a minced meat curry with peas and potatoes filled with spices and sometimes served in a bread roll!
4. I assume you are a foodie, what does food mean to you in one word?
Sharing . When I think of food, it’s not about the latest Michelin star restaurant or haute cuisine experience, it’s about people who care about each other gathering together to eat, laugh, and connect over food.
5. What do you like doing when you are not eating or thinking about food?
I love writing – I wish I could be more disciplined though! I like spending time with the people I love, I like travelling, seeing new places, lying in the sunshine, playing with my dog and riding horses (preferably bareback and across a beach or a field of wild flowers).
6. Your top picks in London?
As someone with a very mixed background, I’m a bit of an unconventional Indian, so I’d like to write about unconventional ‘Indian’ restaurants, by which I mean places that serve Indian regional specialities that aren’t well known, food from neighbouring South Asian countries or food from other cuisines which is inspired by Indian food.
Apollo Banana Leaf – Sri Lankan
190 Tooting High St, SW17 0SF
Dishes we must try: Mutton Rolls, Fish Cutlets
Comment: Although Sri Lanka is a separate country, the food is very similar to South Indian cooking. The mutton rolls and fish cutlets are just like the ones my Indian mother makes at home – it’s one of the reasons I love this place so much!
Roti King – Malaysian
40 Doric Way, Euston NW1 1LH
Dishes we must try: Fish Roti, Kaya (Malaysian Coconut Jam) Roti
Comment: Malaysia’s tagline is ‘Truly Asia’ and it truly is, incorporating cultures from China, South India and the local Malay culture. This is also reflected in the food and some of the best South Indian food can be found in Malaysia. Roti Canai is a version of Indian parotta and it’s absolutely delicious, especially for £4!
Dos Santos Goan Food – Indian (Goan)
Windmill Road, Croydon
Dishes we must try: Coconut Bacon, Goan Sausage & Potato Chop, Chicken Xacuti, Bebinca
Comment: This type of Indian cuisine is surprisingly overlooked in London despite being one of the best. Goa was once a Portuguese colony and as a result there a number of Portuguese influences in the food –if you can’t make it to a supper club here, order some of their products online which are sent out with recipes!
Menelik – Ethiopian
277 Caledonian Road, London N1 1EF
Dishes we must try: Messir Wot, Injera, Doro Tibs
Comment: Though there are many differences between Indian and Ethiopian food, there are also many similarities! Ethiopia was on the spice trade route so a number of Indian spices were brought to Ethiopia from India. The traditional Ethiopian bread – injera – is very similar to South Indian appam! Ethiopian food is best eaten with the hands so make sure to leave your fussy side at home!