Moving to a new area always has a little bit of a thrill, especially if it’s relatively unexplored (by your good self of course) and has gastronomic bounty to offer. My move to Turnpike Lane in North East London has been particularly good in this respect. I’ve found some great new Turkish restaurants (Antepliler, I salute you, and I’ll bring my camera next time!), am addicted to Turkish Lahmacun, particularly weak for it after a few drinks, and I have found a number of great food shops and a local butcher that I like.
This time, I won’t talk about Turkish food. This may seem odd for Londoners familiar with Green Lanes, packed with Turkish restaurants, food shops and Turkish men’s social clubs. Like many parts of London, Turnpike Lane is full of surprises, and turning a street corner can throw up some unexpected flavours. On Turnpike Lane itself, for example, there’s multi-ethnic eateries and shops with Lebanese, Caribbean, Malay and Indian flavours.
The ones that really impressed me recently and that I will describe now, are the Indian ones. I discovered a great little food shop that sells all sorts of usually unattainable delights, from fresh turmeric to tinda, tiger tomatoes to a myriad of squashes. Every spice and rice you could think of. I’m a regular visitor now. Just before you get there, a gem of a restaurant is tucked behind an understated facade, looking utterly unimpressive.
Jai Shri Krishna is a family run South Indian Vegetarian restaurant. I love South Indian Vegetarian food, particularly Keralan, and when I discovered there was a local restaurant, I swiftly checked it out.
A first glance at the window revealed a very cheap lunch deal and half price thali at lunch nestled beside the menu. Not always the most encouraging sign, but usual for restaurants like this. The menu was fairly large offering Keralan staples, dosas, uttapam, idli and a wide variety of curries and dals. It was all very cheap too, predominantly circling the £4 mark. There’s no alcohol on the menu but it is BYO and at a very reasonable 30p for each beer and I can’t quite remember the specifics but something like £1.50 for a bottle of wine.
Service was quick, we were promptly brought a menu and some paper and a pen to note our choices. Now this worried me a little, as this wasn’t like some places where you tick next to the food you want. I was to write it out, and my writing is really very bad. I once signed a birthday card with my name Niamh, spelled N-I-A-M-H, and my friend asked, who’s David? Oh, no that’s just me, that’s N-I-A-M-H. So, as clearly as I could I wrote our order, and then, armed with the knowledge of my terrible, terrible writing, went through each one with the waiter when he came to take it.
We ordered the masala dosa, nice and light, with a light and delicately seasoned light potato masala in the centre served with a lovely sambar and cocnut chutney. There was lots of interesting paneer dishes, we went with the pumpkin one. I thought it might be too sweet but it was very light and not overbearing, very enjoyable. Aloo Gobi was delicious, the potatoes had a lovely caramelised flavour, surely, the ultimate comfort food. The pooris were light and fresh,and it was nice to have the option of brown rice. We washed it all down with some lime waters which were very good indeed. The only dish which I wasn’t overjoyed with was the mushroom dopiaza, all is forgiven though as everything else was great and at that price, fantastic.
The second night we went we got a big wave, and they came down to say hello and apologised for being rushed the day before as they were very busy. I love local enterprises like this, family run, friendly, great value and with lots of integrity. I’ve really enjoyed it and will certainly go again. It’s very reasonable, well flavoured and spiced, and good value. A local treat. Try it if you’re in the area.
Jai Shri Krishna, 10 Turnpike Lane Hornsey London N8 0PT