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Oct 21, 2008 02:56 PM

Thattukada in East Ham

So I just made it out to this wonderful Keralan joint on High St North per the recommendation of my bank clerk. Yeah, the guy who I got at HSBC while upgrading my savings account just so happened to be Malayalam and just so happened to give me this place. Much thanks to you Thomas.

I got there quite late to find a few tables taken by guys speaking Malayalam and Hindi. More came in and took tables while about twice that many got take away while I was waiting and eating. Cute little interior. Nothing special, but who cares. That's not the point.

I started with a salty lassi (1.50) which they made when I ordered it. It was a nice run of the mill salty lassi. Really thick. For food, we ordered rice and thattu dosas as our utensils and the Keralan fish curry and the king fish moilly as our mains (I am definitely killing the spelling of this in my mind. Oh yeah, despite my knowledge of Bangladeshi food, I'm a total retard when it comes to South Indian. Well, not total, but I'm nothing special knowledge wise. Just a warning.)

The dosas (not to be confused with the commonly assumed meaning of dosa, these are just delicious little flatbreads) were excellent. Reeeally perfect. Pretty much as good as I've had them. I had home cooked far South Indian on only one occasion at a Malayalam friend's house from high school and that's pretty much what caused me to go for the moilly. The Keralan fish curry was also another standby that I just felt safe with. I'll be more adventurous in the future.

The moilly was lots of nicely cooked kingfish submerged in a delicious coconut milk broth. It was loaded with green chillies, and fish, and vegetables, and goodness. All in all a nice dish and while it was 5 pounds (which was actually expensive for this menu), it was worth it.) Very large portion! The Keralan fish curry was even better. Delicious somewhat spicy red-brown gravy loaded with all sorts of things. Again, king fish. Excellent and I believe 3.50.

I'll be trying it again ASAP. Maybe as soon as Saturday. The employees and other guys in there especially recommended the chicken biryani which comes with a massive assortment of chatnis and egg curry. Also, I was given recommendations for a fried banana starter, something called pattu, and the danavan dishes.

That's about it,


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  1. Sounds good - if the biryani is as good as it sounds I'll definitely make the trip, so let us know how your next trip goes!

    1. I just had my second meal at this gem and it was awesome. My friend got the chicken biriyani which was pretty much as good as advertised. It was packed with a half a chicken, a whole egg, and loads of dried cherries. It was delicious and clearly cook in layers. The rice was still fluffy and moist. A really solid batch of biriyani and at 4 pounds (it comes with raita, a poppadom, and egg curry too) it's a bargain. My friend who is a notoriously big eater couldn't finish all of it.

      I ordered the chicken curry with parathas. The parathas were delicious and light; classic South Indian layered ones like a Malaysian roti chennai. The curry was fabulous. The best chicken curry I've had at a restaurant in London by far. In fact, it might be the best chicken curry I've ever had in a restaurant (and I don't like chicken much.)

      They also gave us a free batch of kappa (2.50) which is basically pounded tapioca with tapioca slices and mustard seeds. Really delicious and very similar to the filling of a masala dosa. The bill came the 13 for both of us and we really went to town. Oh yeah, we also got the fish fry (3.00) which was delicious but a bit expensive for one chunk of king fish covered in onions. REALLY tasty, but not enough for 3 when that much can basically get you a massive plate of biriyani.

      I'll be back soon!

      21 Replies
      1. re: JFores

        you go from strength to strength justin, keep it up!

        fyi - the language is malayalam and the people are malayali. also, biryani isn't really a keralite thing, but the hands of talented chefs transcend regions.

        1. re: howler

          Yeah I managed to get this place because I picked out my bank clerk for a Malayali based on his surname (Thomas) when we were both talking about moving here.

          Also, they have Keralan specials every day. Today's we crab curry (6), a whole fish fried and then steamed in banana leaves (9), and a few others.

          1. re: howler

            So I made it there again tonight because I'm slightly addicted and we haven't gotten all of our groceries together yet (we're ding Sichuan for a week or two so I had to get over to the amazing Chinese supermarket in Silvertown that I happened upon when taking the bus from hell back from East Ham to home. This bus literally zig zagged 90% of the industrial docklands before arriving at Canning Town from which I still had to walk a mile home. Grumble.)

            Ok food and important stuff. We split a something... pori which was a battered and deep fried plantain which was a nice little 1.50 snack. Then we got two orders of appam which are basically the thattu dosa of earlier fame cooked longer until they crisp on the edges, go white, and leave a doughy middle. We used this to eat the divine centerpiece to our meal. An entire (massive) fish fried and then steamed in banana leaves while covered in a spicy red spice paste. Absolutely amazing. It was 12 quid, but it was easily enough to fill two the brim. The sauce was incredibly delicious and the meat was perfectly cooked. We left not a scrape of meat left on the bones! Much recommended. This isn't actually on the menu so make sure to ask the waiters what specials they've got.

            1. re: JFores

              For yet another update, I took advantage of my 5 hours between classes (worst... schedule... ever...) to get lunch here. For 2 pounds I got 3 thattu dosa, a cup of coconut chutney, and a bowl of sambar dal. Yummy. You're really not getting better for 2 pounds. Tasty, as cheap as can be, and the thattu dosas are lovely.

              1. re: JFores

                Great to hear all the delicious info - many thanks, will have to try soon. Do they have any thali type options?

                1. re: limster

                  Ask! I've seen people with thali like assortments, but it's not on the menu. I swear that this place has an unwritten menu that's at least 50% the size of the written one.

                  1. re: JFores

                    I had yet another meal at Thattukada today and it was amazing. We ordered one of the lunch/happy hour specials each (ends at 4pm on weekdays.)

                    I had the kappa with fish curry (3 quid) and my companion had the puttu with chicken curry. Her chicken curry portion was much larger than my fish curry portion, but it makes sense seeing as the puttu needs a lot of liquid.

                    Puttu is basically rice flour and coconut packed into a cylinder shape and (I would assume this was traditionally done using a large piece of bamboo, much like how natives such as the Iban make rice) steamed until the contents are fluffy and delicious (if a bit dry.) The taste is predominantly coconut and the texture is a mixture of a few. It sort of has its own texture. You use it just like you'd use rice as your tool for eating the accompanying curry.

                    The kappa is similar and (as mentioned above) is basically mashed tapioca with slices of tapioca in the mash. It tastes delicious when mixed with fish curry, but for some reason it doesn't click with others (even with the chicken curry's liquid.)

                    The real star of today's meal was an order of "fried mussels" for 5 pounds which was awesome. I suspect that the mussels were frozen, but it didn't even matter. They were fried crispy with onions, spices, oil, etc. There was loads of flavor packed into each little chunk of meat. Really delicious and on the invisible menu aka daily specials.

                    There other specials today were "beef fry" and "squid fry."

                    1. re: JFores

                      OK, OK, I'll try to get to Thattukada soon. Only thing is that I normally meet people at a pub near whatever restaurant we're going to, and according to the Beer in the Evening webste the pubs nearby aren't attractive prospects, nor the locality itself. Try this review:

                      "used to work for newham council and used to pop in here at lunch time on a saturday before getting my train home....always liked this pub as it meant i was leaving stinking scummy cesspit east ham....funnly enough dont work for newham council anymore and never want to go back to east ham..... ever "

                      Oh dear

                      1. re: Lord Brazing

                        Awww East Ham's so nice compared to where I live. I might be moving on up there next year! (I'm not being sarcastic.)

                        I haven't spotted any pubs around the area that scream "go here" but they've got their usual area "Is it a Wetherspoons? I dunno... Maybe?" pub so definitely not a go to destination. Thattukada does have alcohol though. The usual Indian beer array (Kingfisher, Cobra, etc. I think they might have whiskey too.) The place is Christian owned so you can revel in the beef and alcohol.

                        Go. ;)

                        1. re: JFores

                          jfores - ask if the owners are syrian christians. if they are - you lucked out huge!
                          (of course i mean this in the sense of their cuisine, not religion).

                          1. re: howler

                            Thanks, will do. I've sort of casually assumed they're pentas or jacobs, but I'll ask. What would I ask for if they turn out to be Syrian Christians?

                            In regards to Medgirl, the staff speak good English (at least the guy who comes to your table does, the giant man behind the counter his iffy English but we managed to establish that he has family about 10 minutes from my grandparents' house in Queens.) Just ask him what the specials of the day are and he'll list them. If you're have a super hard time then just ask if he could write them down for you, but make it seem as if its for putting on Chowhound so as not to seem rude.

                            I haven't seen anyone order coffee, but I see no reason why they wouldn't. The drinks of choice are generally water (free), cumin water (free), and Kingfisher so coffee's been a bit neglected.

                            1. re: JFores

                              HI JFores I am going to make the trip to East Ham on your recommendation; so given that I am a bit of a starter on this type of food and I didn't really know what to order at Gram Bangla (if you recall I hated the dried cod-type curry) could you please recommend something?
                              I love things like biryanis, dals, spicy foods (not vindaloo hot though). I have to be careful with carbs and too much fat on doctors orders(yes. afraid the diet has started!) but i reckon small portions of rice would be great. I can eat everything else! Perhaps you could recc a starter, main and side dish and give me an idea of how much I should pay? thanks x

                              1. re: DietStartsTomorrow

                                If you want to do rice, you can. They have basmati or Keralan. If you're going for lunch, then do a lunch special, but otherwise I'd do a proper meal. Ask what the daily specials are. If they have a whole fish fried and then steamed in banana leaves, get that to share if someone else is coming. Otherwise it's just massive. A basic meal would be Keralan fish curry (3), kappa or rice, and an appetizer of fried mussels if they're not to high in calories or the beef fry. Both are not exactly small portions. The really large fish is anywhere from 9 to 12 pounds and fries are 3 to 5 pounds.

                                Oh! If you do like biriyani, then get the chicken biriyani (4 quid) as you'll definitely like it. Pair that with one of the fried fishes like fried squid, beef fry, mussel fry, etc. Don't do the fish fry as the portion's stupidly small. You could also get a side of egg curry (2,50) to mix with the biryani as you go.

                                The portions are very large except for some of the fries.

                                1. re: JFores

                                  Mmm...sounds good. I will head over within the next fortnight and report back. Thanks for the reply !

                                  1. re: DietStartsTomorrow

                                    Make it over yet? I took my flat mate's grandparents there on Friday and they loved it. I had two Geordies both over the age of 70 who I lured over to East Ham for "some real East London food" because I didn't know what they'd say if I proposed Indian. All in all they adored it. They split a chicken biriyani and a vegetable curry. This place has considerably more broad English appeal than Gram Bangla. I even came back from the ATM to find them chatting it up with the staff. I had fish curry and kappa (paired together in a smaller portion so it was only 3 quid and was still a deadly portion.)

                                    1. re: JFores

                                      HI Justin - yes I finally made it over on saturday. Just wanted to say it really lives up to the recommendation. Loved it. I think you are right when you say it has broader english appeal - the staff are friendlier and as a single woman dining alone, I found it much less intimidating than Gram Bangla as when I went I was the only woman in the place and the staff were not very helpful. In contrast, here, they couldn't have been more welcoming. I love biryanis so when they recommended the chicken one, I went for that. Quite amusing when I asked if it came with a veg curry side (as I am used to in my local curry house) It didn't - but was absolutely delicious. Loved the chutneys and raita too - seemed very fresh. I did order a side of fish curry to sample and that was absolutely delicious too, but to be frank couldn't finish it all.
                                      Lots of the other dishes sounded great, but being on my own, couldn't tackle it all. Maybe we should organise a chowdown one weekend? I can't wait to go back!

                                      1. re: DietStartsTomorrow

                                        I'd definitely be up for a chowdown there. :-)

                                        1. re: DietStartsTomorrow

                                          sounds great. lets see if limster, zuriga, krista etc want to join in.

                                            1. re: felizglfr

                                              Hi hounds, sorry to interrupt the chow talk, but please have a look at the posting etiquette for organizing chow downs.


                                              Briefly, we allow one organizer to post an announcement with a contact email, so that all organization is done off the boards. We can then sticky the announcement so that it remains at the top of the boards until the chowdown is over.

                        2. re: JFores

                          JFores, do the wait staff speak reasonable English? How do you find out about the specials if you are non-Malayali? Do they do coffee Malayali style?

            2. Planning a trip to Thattukada next week. Can you suggest an accessible meal for two people (no eggs)?

              3 Replies
              1. re: loobcom

                If you stick to the fish you won't have any eggs, but the biriyanis and some meat dishes come with a whole egg.

                Ask what the specials are. The seafood specials have been consistently awesome. If avoiding eggs is the only thing you have to do, then anything seafood related will be completely in the clear. If you want something off of the main menu then the Keralan fish curry is delicious and is best eaten with kappa. An order of kappa actually comes with a small amount of fish curry, so you could try both by getting the kappa.

                Just be inquisitive. If you need a solid seafood fallback that everyone likes, then the moilley is very good here. The fish curry is excellent as well. If you want to steer away from fish for one of your dishes than the chicken curry is awesome and doesn't come with an egg. I've wanted to try the beef fry (usually on specials) for ages, but I always seem to be with Hindus when I go.

                Ideal meal would be...

                Whole fish, fried, and then steamed in banana leaves (12) to be eaten with an order of thattu dosa or rice each. Then get one fry dish. Beef fry, mussel fry, whichever, but not the fish fry as it's quite small. The kanava dishes are squid and they usually have squid fry to for I think 3.50. The whole fish can range from 9 to 12 pounds depending on which fish they use, but it's enough to fill up two people.

                1. re: JFores

                  Thanks JFores, we'll be heading down there on Tues evening.

                  1. re: loobcom

                    Excellent. I might be there with some people on Tuesday as well.

              2. I just had dinner here last night and tried some new stuff (and I made a nice discovery today at lunch.) Last night we had the devilled seafood which was pretty much the usual seafood fries that they do except it seemed to have had a proper sauce before it was fried down. Tasty and a decent price at 5 quid (for sardines, mussels, squid, king fish bits, etc.) The beef fry was similar to the other fries except it had lovely morsels of tender beef. Very small pieces, but perfect for hand eating with parotta (1.80 for 2.) Incredibly beefy and maybe a little bland, but we had the devilled seafood which was one of the spiciest things I've had there right before it.

                Now today (in more interesting news) I was eating a lunch special of puttu and curry when I started noticing more and more people ordering what looked like a thali. I asked and it turned out to be a fish thali! It comes with a full assortment of chutneys, a whole plate of rice, two poppadoms, sambar, what seemed like stewed squid curry, fish curry, omelet, and more for 3.80. Bargain? Yeah.

                7 Replies
                1. re: JFores

                  Justin, first may I commend you on your consistently excellent contributions to the UK board, glad we have you for at least another 18 months (I'm guessing). I can't at present find anyone to make the trip to east ham with me, and since I'm often in the Mile End area (I'm ashamed to say far east for me, born in central london and rarely venture beyond zone 2) for one reason or another, I thought you might be able to recommend a menu for a solitary luncher. The menu suggested above eg the fish fried and steamed sounds amazing but perhaps too big for one? Should I hit the fish thali instead? It sounds like this place has great regular potential, so what would you have liked to have ordered the first time? Am wholy ignorant of the cuisine, bar what I've gleaned from this thread, which I've been following since the first post.

                  1. re: skut

                    Thanks a lot mate. Glad to see someone's reading (though judging by Muna's....),

                    I eat alone at Thattakuda pretty often so it's not a problem (I did today, actually.) Their specials are really group dishes (ei. the fish is MASSIVE and could fill two people with another dish) but they offer lunch specials as well as a variety of other things. Depending on how hungry you are, you could just do a lunch special (if you're going for lunch) or you could opt for the other good 1 person options. Those would include the thali, the fish curry with kappa, the chicken curry with parotta, etc. If you're really hungry then get one of those and then get a special on top of it like a mussel fry.

                    Always ask the waiter what the specials of the day are and see what's interesting too. If you ask them what's good for one person they'll toss out recommendations too, but I've found that they keep telling me to get chicken. They do their chicken surprisingly well, but it's happened so often that I think it's a "save the white kid from things he might not like" sort of thing. I was recommended the chicken curry and chicken biryani loads of times, for example. They're both awesome though.

                    My first meal there was Keralan fish curry, thattu dosa, fish moilley, and rice shared with one other. It was a lot of food. Also, they've got beer, you can ask for jeera water (free), and they've got the usual jugs of tap on each table.


                    1. re: JFores

                      Very nice meal. Totally defeated by portion sizes. The star of the show was the Kanava Masala (Squid) worth going going back for alone. Also enjoyed the Prawn fry, fish fry, Ullivada. and the Thattu dosa.

                      The butter chicken was too rich for our tastes.

                      Your fish looked wonderful, so did the biryiani.

                      Nice to put a face to the name Justin.

                      1. re: loobcom

                        Nice to meet you and I'm glad you enjoyed it. I need to try the kanava masala. I haven't actually had any of the purely squid dishes yet. What was the butter chicken like? What kind of meat?

                        The fish was wonderful! Also, my thali was excellent. If that's a 3.50 lunch, then wow is it huge.

                        1. re: JFores

                          The butter chicken was made with good tender pieces of chicken breast, and perfectly cooked, but it was just too richly buttery for our taste.

                          Is it strange to complain that butter chicken is too buttery?

                          1. re: loobcom

                            I've been to Switzerland for long enough to completely understand what you mean (butter on a roast beef sandwich... butter on everything...) I'm guessing its preperation was similar to the Thattakuda special chicken which is a nice big plate of chicken breast that seems to be loaded with spices. I've seen it ordered a few times, but I've never had it. This place is kind of turning me around about chicken as they seem to have a really good hand with it. Good to hear someone else enjoyed this place (my companions did as well. My girlfriend and I are here constantly, but the other two thought it was the best Indian food they've ever had. They don't have much experience, but it was cool to see them so amazed.)

                            1. re: JFores

                              Hoping to go back soon and concentrate on the fish and seafood since thats what I feel they do well.

                              Another thing that I really liked was that everything seemed to be freshly cooked. One thing I dislike is when food goes from refrigerated display to microwave to plate (I know that some things can benefit from 24/48 stewing in their own juices) but that was one of the things I objected to at the Gram Bangla.

                              Journey time from Shoreditch to East Ham by car was only about 15 mins

                2. great place this, had a fish thali for a very late (early evening) lunch today, with extra dosa for mopping up the residue. Probably unnecessary given the huge serving of rice, but was starving. Since I remain unable to persuade anyone to head to far east, looks like this is one menu I'll have to shake down slowly. Total cost fish thali with thattu dosa and salt lassi 6.60. Definitely worth the trip down the district line.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: skut

                    Nice to see this thread revived. I think I must've missed you by an hour or so yesterday as I was there until nearly the same time. I ended up getting kappa with fish curry (lunch special) as a change up from the norm (I tend to do veg thali with another dish if I'm going for lunch.) BTW, you didn't need the order of thattu dosa as the rice has refills if you order a thali. Nice to try everything anyway, though. If you get a large group there try some of the really nice dishes like the whole fish ones (not really on the menu) and such. Also, ask for daily specials. Their weekend biriyani is better than their weekday biriyani for some reason. East Ham's a particularly easy trip and there's a market, a proper high st, etc so you can do some other stuff in the area (going to East Ham is like my idea of going to central since it's Canning Town nearest proper high st besides Green St. Barking Rd is a bit iffy.)

                    1. re: JFores

                      indeed, I see that. For me the convenience was mitigated; I was in east to see someone, but my return to home on the north western edge of SE1 was loooong. Ordering the dosa was in the interest of broadening the range of things in front of me, and as you pointed out unnecessary, even without refills. Think next time I'll do as you and hit a veg thali with maybe a chicken or fish curry, as the fish that came with my thali was delicious but obviously rather small. It remains my intention to get a group to come with me, though I might have to wait for my ma to get back into town, as she's the only person I know likely to brave the hour's tube travel time for south indian. If only it was cyclable... ah well. I think this is an important thread though, as it properly provides a good framework for first-timers, as well as many encouragements for revisitation. Chowhound is becoming an excellent guide to unheard of ethnic joints (ie beyond the obvious Tayyab etc hegemony) and long may it continue. Gourmet San, Silk Road, Angela's and Thattukada down so far, all winners. This is really the only food I'd leave my kitchen to eat at the moment.

                      1. re: skut

                        Went here with a friend visiting from New York last week and enjoyed ourselves. I couldn't get over how cheap it was (2 mango lassis, dosas, paratha, veg and chicken curry for £13). When you compare it to £13 for one portion of haddock, large chips and mushy peas for the same price at The Golden Hind, it's kinda ridic. Anyway, I would really like to go back and have the veg thali (I was jealous of the people ordering it around us) and one of the fish currys. I'll be honest, I'm new to this whole "curry" thing and am only familiar with Punjab food so I was thrown a bit when I got my chicken curry. It's not as creamy as the the usual chicken curry I've gotten from Lahore Kebab but still just as spicy. I still like my usual Punjab/typical curry choices so I think I need to be educated/convinced more about Kerlan food.