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May 7, 2010 12:25 PM

Pani Poori and Snack Stall next to Thattukada (London)

Hello all,

I just got back from a very good meal at Thattukada, but that's not what I'm writing about (though it is notable to say that they refurbished part of their bathrooms, have an English language specials board updated daily and that their crab masala was awesome with impressively fresh crab.)

Instead I'm here to announce that I've encountered the most genuinely street foody enterprise I have ever seen in London. This guy is running a legitimate Indian-style pani poori stand! It operates outside of the misc religious items store next to Thattukada and it seems to be the same owners. It's also making a killing.

The pani poori chat filling is slightly bland, but his water (brown) is really really tasty. Nice overall flavor and you have the option of getting sweet pani poori. 5 for a quid too! Made to order and immediately placed in your little bowl as you stand there so you can eat them one by one.

He also has samosa chat which I only had a bit of so far as I got it take away. It's good, but the pani poori are better. That's a quid as well.

Finally, he's got a big pot of lamb soup which is basically just broth with chunks of bone in it. Not much meat, but REALLY good broth, one pound and the marrow inside the bones is quite tasty.

His stall also says he does lime juice, rose milk and lassi though I don't think he'll have them till it's warmer out. All in all great stuff. Nice addition to the area. Another new place is a Keralan restaurant which opened up in the half of the Overdraft Tavern (pub) that used to show cricket. I need to get there, but Thattukada keeps calling me...

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  1. oooooh what a find. classic street food all over india.

    a bit of info for you: 'pani' translates to water and you already know what poori means. the brown water you refer to is tamarind flavoured water - after each poori, you're free to vary the type of pani used for the next one.

    see if he has sev dahi batata puri (boiled potato in the poori, drenched with tamarind water, topped with yoghurt, sprinkled with sev and green chutney) ... heaven.

    1 Reply
    1. re: howler

      I'll ask about that one. He doesn't seem to have the green at all, unfortunately.

    2. -We have a friend who goes to the temple in East Ham, and he says there is a 2nd Pani Poori street vendor on a side street in EH, but he has, independent of chowhound, only tried the one that JFores has been raving about and has also been raving about it.

      -I strongly recommend NOT going to the new Keralan place carved out of the pub. We went on Sunday and had a very lackluster meal. They had some interesting dishes (according to our Keralan friend) on the menu but the execution was very depressing.

      2 Replies
      1. re: relizabeth

        Excellent. My loyalty to the staff at Thattukada will remain untainted... I do, however, like that this place's opening seems to have give Thattu a renewed vigor. They've been on really good form lately, updated a bunch of stuff inside and started doing a specials board almost exactly like that place's.

        1. re: JFores

          Thattukada has NOTHING to fear from these clowns. I believe a frozen mix veg may have been used in several of our dishes.

      2. Went to East Ham today, at about 3 PM.

        There are at least THREE street stands now, and I went to two of them.

        One stand was directly in front of Thattukada, and I think this is the one JFores describes. I tried the chana chaat, which was good and spicy! Big serving for £1. The mutton soup wasn't ready yet, unfortunately (he said it would be ready after 5 PM). I also had a sample of the pani poori, which was good (but not as good as the pani poori at the other stand I went to).

        There is another stand across the street, which has various chaats and I think pani poori as well, but I didn't try this one. Then there is yet ANOTHER stand around the corner, next to the barber shop (I think this is the one that relizabeth's friend went to). This stand is run by a man from Gujarat, and I tried three types of pani poori here. First, a sweet version with potato filling, with tamarind water - very good. Next, a non-sweet version with yogurt, green chutney, potaotoes again, and maybe something else? This sounds like the "sev dahi puri" that howler describes. This was also excellent. I had four each of both of these, and then also tried one sample of his chana, again inside a poori, with some chili and a bit of green chutney. Spicy, pretty good....but I think the yogurt/green chutney/potato ones were my favorite. Prices are 4 poori for £1

        Also, at this stand, he had halwa (semolina based) which was really really good. And this is coming from someone who doesn't usually like halwa. It was served very warm, topped with crushed almonds - perfect amount of sweetness, a bit of coconut, perhaps some cinnamon and various other spices. Excellent, £1 for a plastic cup.

        The guys at both stands were very friendly. The area with these three stands is at the corner of High St and Gladstone Ave in East Ham. I recommend making a trip....

        3 Replies
        1. re: Dave MP

          mutton soup at a pani poori stall = impossible to compute, must reboot.

          1. re: howler

            by "reboot" do you mean "get on the Hammersmith and City Line immediately?"

            1. re: Dave MP

              no, more like change a frame of reference i thought was immutable.

        2. Wow this scene is growing fast.

          We went to East Ham today in order to try out the other two stalls that Dave mentioned and to search for any more. One stall is across from Thattukada and is the one Dave passed up while the other's next to the barber shop on Gladstone.

          Both are excellent at what they do (and Gujarati owned, btw.)

          The stall on Gladstone is owned by a Muslim Gujarati named Waseem. He does papri chat, pani puri, dehi puri and a Gujarati halwa called seero. All of his stuff is seriously good. Probably the best pani puri I've ever had and his seero was declared by Shekha to be "almost as good as her grandmother"s which I think is high praise indeed. The chat's good, but the bhel at the other guy's stall is better.

          The other stall is in front of the now unoccupied storefront near Ananda Bhavan opposite Thattukada. EVERYONE there orders bhel and their bhel is hands down without a doubt the best I've had. While my "best I've hads" are all from a Western setting, I've still had each thing at places in Wembley, Mumbai Xpress in NY, etc so it's not that small a comparison. But back to the bhel! The bhel is incredibly good. I actually wanted to get a second plate of it. The portion's rather generous; 1.50 for a thick pile on a small silver toned plate.

          Money wise... The Tamil guy across the road has everything priced at a quid. The bhel guy has everything for 1.50. Waseem is mostly 1 pound per item, though I think his chat is 1.50. Everything we ordered from Waseem came to 4.50 (dehi puri, pani puri, papri chat and halwa.) We were both quite full from just this snacking, btw.

          7 Replies
          1. re: JFores

            oh good lord, there goes my world.

            an excellent mutton soup served besides pani poori as well as seero?! (i assume seero= maharastrian sheera). i mean sheera is always cooked at a puja (holy day of prayer) and i've never even seen it in a muslim house. you must understand that for indian muslims, chicken is a vegetable.

            ok, i'm being dramatic - fact is, i don't think i've ever eaten at a gujurati muslims house before and there's no reason on earth why they shouldn't scarf seero down as enthusiastically as an hindu.

            fantastic stuff.

            1. re: JFores

              We went an had the bhel. Quite spicy, and quite awesome. I am not really sure what all of the things in the bhel were, but the flavor combination was really nice. We also tried pani puri from this stall, but like JFores says, the pani poori around the corner at the Gujarati stall is better (but he had already closed).

              We also had a snack which was a fried potato cake inside of a hamburger bun with various condiments....I forget what it's called, but I thought it was good. There was a woman running the stall, and she was very nice and helpful, cutting up things into little portions for our group.

              After a few snacks here, we continued eating at Ananda Bhavan, which was great. See my other post about this.

              Dave MP

              1. re: Dave MP

                "a snack which was a fried potato cake inside of a hamburger bun"

                that sounds suspiciously like "bun pattis". was ragda pattis also on offer? in any case, wow.

                1. re: Dave MP

                  or was it "vada pav" - classic mumbai street food, with a dash of red chili spread? either way, can't believe its here, am in holy shock (grin).

                2. re: JFores

                  Does anyone have an address for the stall on Gladstone? Trying to send someone there and looking for more specific directions...

                  Aaaannnnd...anyone know what time they start serving?

                  1. re: markemorse

                    The stall on Gladstone is right at the corner of Gladstone and High Street, essentially it's at #1 Gladstone (in front of a barber shop and a small shop)

                    This particular stand closes earlier than the others....around 8 PM. I think he said he started around 11 AM...but maybe assume 12 noon to be safe? The other two stands were open until later, like 10 or so....

                    Dave MP

                3. I am visiting London next week and I have no idea where all these place names are. Can someone tell me the street and Tube stop and line, please?

                  I'm really excited to try Indian food in London; it's not very good where I'm from in Canada.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: miss_bennet

                    They're on High Street North - the nearest tube stop is East Ham on the District Line.

                    1. re: limster

                      East Ham tube stop is on the District, and also Hammersmith and City Line.

                      Leaving the tube station, take a right onto the High Street. Walk about two blocks (north) and you'll reach the stands.