Cheap Indian Food for Novices? London
We have some very sweet, naive 17 year olds visiting us. It is their first time in the UK and we thought Indian food might be an interesting experience for them. They have never had it ever before. Normally, we'd take guests to the veggie Rasa (it is around the corner from us) or out to East Ham, but that usually works well as a counterpoint to people who have already experienced Indian food.
Any opinions on where to take them? Cheap (as close to East Ham prices as possible) would be great. But also delicious vegetarian, as we have to eat it too.
If I were you I'd take them to East Ham. It's fun to take train rides out to different parts of a new city (at least I always liked doing that when I was a teenager visiting new places). I also think that in addition to being a counterpoint to other Indian food in UK, a visit to East Ham is a nice counterpoint to the more touristy parts of London that they are likely to see (assuming they will be doing tourist activities while they are here).
I have taken several friends out to East Ham who have had little experience with Indian food, or at least very little experience with non-Punjabi Indian food, and every trip has been extremely successful. So, unless the 17-year-olds are afraid of trains, I'd say head to East Ham.
So, that's my two cents (pence?).
You could just go to Kebabish on Green St. That's a fantastic Kebabish and I've used it as a bit of an intro place in the past. The one I mean is further up towards Romford Road opposite Baburchi. It allows the trip east with all its ambience while presenting them Indian food in a neat, cheap and kebab oriented setting (that's open till 3am. So... you know, if you decide to throw away a year of your happiness and move to Canning Town then you can drive there in 10 minutes at 2:45 to get your last order in while blasting grime with the windows down. Only to find yourself insanely lost for about 30 minutes within a winding maze of one way streets literally every single time you park on the block to the right of Kebabish.)
Otherwise the Indian YMCA works, but it's a bit of a pain to have to eat around their schedules.
Or you can order around the spice at Thattukada. I don't really find anything spicy there but I think my Geordie friend (who I pretty much introduced to Indian via Kebabish btw) had trouble with the spice there a couple of years ago. He's gotten way better now!
If you do Kebabish then you've also got an Indian ice cream place on the block next to the paan place that sells fresh sugar cane juice out of the front. Getting random family and friends to try paan is always fun too...
And Green St Market's one of the best in East London; they've even got some good food stalls in there.
And you've got West Ham's stadium to set them up for that whole stereotypical East London ambience (except if it's not match day then good luck spotting anyone who meets the stereotype.)
...and best of all they can find that the movie Green St is just about the most inaccurate depiction of that stretch imaginable.
If you want less seekh kebabs and more actual dishes then you can go to Lahore Lahore Eh in East Ham proper or there's also a Pakistani place on the road that leads to High St North from Green St (the mini roundabout by the first Kebabish right before Pakeeza jewelers with their big noticeable sign. That block has two paan places too. But yeah, that Pakistani place was packed out the doors on Eid and I've been meaning to try it ever since. This post reminded me that it exists! On the topic of that road, I think it also has a Keralan place and an Angolan restaurant further down.)
These are probably all great recommendations for "proper" Indian and Pakistani food, but I don't think that people who have a problem with heat in their food will enjoy it - unless there are specific dishes you can recommend which have no heat in at all - and I don't mean for your taste buds, I mean for people who don't usually eat chilli!
I love a bit of heat, but I can find good seekh kebabs right on the edge of my tolerance levels at times, so I can't see the young people coming over for their first experience of this kind of food being able to hack most of the food in these places. Do you know of any places/dishes without heat?
To be honest, the only place that I can think of where I go "Yeah, they have absolutely no spice whatsoever" is Tayyabs. I really don't like Tayyabs very much at all, but maybe it'd serve a purpose in this occasion as it's got the whole grilled Western friendly menu without any chillies.
Alternatively, there's a place called New Khybar UK that is super non-spicy because they're Pashtun but on a scale of 1-10 for an Indian restaurant not to take a first timer to I'd have to give it about a 70.
I introduced packs of Geordies that would visit my old flatmate to Indian food via that Kebabish and there have not yet been any reported deaths. And they have really terrible tolerances for spice.
Hi there Justin - could you please list the good food stalls in Green st as I go there regulary and would love to try them....and have you tried the place in Queen's Market that I suggested to Sheika? I really enjoyed my meal there - you can see the women in the back making the samosas but unfortuately they'd sold out when I went back to buy a bunch! Though Mobeen was ok for fast food - that's the places all the locals referred me to for a lunch!