National Curry Week: London’s Best Paneer DishesBy Alicia Grimshaw
Rejoice, for it’s National Curry Week? We’ve teamed up with Kingfisher Beer for a whole week dedicated to curry; from amazing vegetarian Indian restaurants in London to beautiful curry recipes, we’ll be exploring everything London’s curry scene has to offer. To get involved, follow Kingfisher on Twitter here and like them on Facebook here. Today we’re talking paneer. The Indian cottage cheese has a special place in many’s hearts, and we love it as a great vegetarian alternative to a traditional meat curry. If you’re looking for an Indian meat-free fix, here’s where to find London’s best paneer dishes:
The Dish: Chilli Paneer
The Run Down: Roti Chai is what Wagamama’s is to pan-Asian grub; quick, easy, but most of all, tasty. This fast-food joint just behind Selfridges, doesn’t have the department store price tag, but still delivers with bold flavours and fantastic service. And like Wags (as I like to call it), Roti Chai is decked out in canteen-styled seating and cool, quirky lighting. Drop in for a quick feed come lunchtime, or if you have more time, their downstairs dining room comes alive at night and operates at a more docile pace compared to the street kitchen upstairs.
Order: The chilli paneer is a fiery Indo-Chinese special that is not only a steal at £5.50, but the portion is decent, and they don’t hold back on the heat either. The bhel puri is another crowdpleaser – a sweet and savoury medley of puffed rice with tamarind sauce. It’s punchy and surprisngly light.
Where: 3 Portman Mews South, London, W1H 6AY
The Dish: Paneer Kati Roll
The Run-Down: When Kate and Jack returned from their travels in India, they missed the spices and food so much they fired up a couple of grills and set up Kolkati, a street food stall specialising in hot kati rolls. They were an instant success down at KERB on the Quay; driving city office Wharfers wild with their sweet Calcuttan masala winds. It wasn’t long before the duo amassed a legion of kati roll fans. They’ve now travelled north of the river – setting up at the new Kerb Camden.
Order: Their hot kati rolls are sublime. Sublime. Hot egg dipped parathas crammed with masala chicken or paneer, coconut raita, pickled onions, fresh coriander and chilli. Did you just read that description? Yeah. We’ll see you down there.
Where: Kerb Camden, London
The Dish: Paneer Posto
The Run-Down: Calcutta Street is the unique new home dining concept launched by Shrimoyee Chakraborty, which opened in July. The restaurant seemly blends authentic dishes from Shrimoyee’s family kitchen with modern gusto. The ground floor has a no reservations policy, so grab a table and get stuck in. Downstairs is far more intimate, where up to 16 diners can enjoy an authentic Bengali home dining experience. Think of it as a sort of home-away-from-home.
Order: The paneer posto is a proper little nutty dish – the paneer has been wonderfully coated in a poppy seed and cashew paste which really brings out the rich, creamy texture of the paneer. Still want more of the cheese action? At lunch Calcutta bang out a smashing paneer roll served with house chutneys and a side salad for £7. We love a bargain.
Where: Calcutta Street, 29 Tottenham Street, London, W1T 4RU
The Dish: Paneer and pepper skewers with coriander chutney
The Run-Down: Papi’s Pickles isn’t just your run of the mill pop-up, it’s so, so much more. This family run, social enterprise acts as a platform for women from South Indian and Sri Lankan communities who now live in London to use their kitchen skills to earn an income, build confidence and play a purposeful role in society, and reinvests all profits in achieving these social aims. And on top of all that, their food and homemade pickles are sensational.
Order: Their menu differs from event to event, but their Sri Lankan mutton rolls, made with free-range lamb and potato are a must, and their chickpea chaat bowls drizzled with tamarind, coriander and yoghurt sauces is all sorts of deliciousness.
Where: Check here to where see they’re popping up next
The Dish: Paneer Tikka
The Run-Down: Never been to Tayyabs? You haven’t lived, my friend. Established long before you were born (1972 if you care), Tayyabs is a family owned and run business serving Punjabi cuisine to the hungry punters of Whitechapel and beyond. The decor is questionable, but you’re not Kevin McCloud and this isn’t Grand Designs. The food is top, and it’s cheap as chips. Bring your own bottle (and there’s the added bonus of no corkage fee). Top tip: book in advance, Tyyabs gets busy and no one wants to queue for a naan. No one.
Order: The menu is a mecca of good, solid Indian food. Their paneer tikka is the best of both worlds; exotic spices from their tikka range, with a vegetarian twist. Also try their legendary lamb chops, sag aloo and garlic naan – it’s big enough to feed the 5,000.
And one for luck…
The Dish: Morel Malai Kofta – paneer and royal cumin dumpling, stir-fried green pea and morels, tomato and fenugreek sauce, green pea pilau (for two)
The Run-Down: Set in the historic Grade II listed former Westminster Library, The Cinnamon Club is an institution in the world of Indian fine dining. The original modern Indian restaurant in London, The Cinnamon Club has a long history of serving innovative and creative Indian cuisine in a magnificently majestic setting. Executive Chef Vivek Singh and Head Chef Rakesh Ravindran Nair have developed a lovely menu, with lots of great vegetarian options.
Order: Basically, everything. But the Morel Malai Kofta is a real highlight; a beautiful dumpling, filled with flavoursome mushrooms and paneer. What’s better than a main course to share? A great celebration feast, we say.
Where: The Old Westminster Library, 30-32 Great Smith St, London, SW1P 3BU