One of the many gifts that London gives its natives and visitors are its numerous markets. This past Saturday I and two friends took shelter from the grey and brimming skies at Borough market. We chakkar-ed around the market once, the reconnaissance allowing us to prioritise what to eat and what to buy before committing ourselves to quickly.
The market has changed ever so slightly in the past few years going from downright farmer-like to upmarket tourist attraction in small increments. It remains an impressive market by any standards with fresh produce, meat, eggs and mountains of baked goods sitting proudly under the railway arches, oft alongside fresh eels, divine coffee, wheels of cheese and beers of the world. All food groups are available and the fair-trade, organic, paper & cloth bag toting public mill around amidst the picture snapping tourists.
We shared bratwurst in a bun from the German Deli, replete with sauerkraut and mustard and then a haddock fillet with chips from the takeaway Fish! counter. Armed with a pod of strawberries and some wholesome brownies I tagged myself into their plan and traversed the city to spend an afternoon with yet more friends. All impromptu muscling in – into which I was warmly welcomed. I suspect the brownies had something to do with it.
V joined in the festivities rather late in the day, after a Saturday at work. But just in time for a bit of that scrumptuous brownie and some ice cream. Out dinner plans changed and so we stuck around and after some debate we all decided to go to the famed Khan’s of Bayswater. This is a place V and I have talked about in awe-hushed tones ever since our first days in the UK, having been assured of its greatness by many an Indian friend in that first year of home-missing-ness. Somehow we never quite made it there having once abandoned a journey there for something else.
Khan’s is large and its light blue cloud infused walls and ceiling are propped up with fake palm tree columns. This delightful interior is spacious and bright and cheerful. We were seated quickly amidst the chattering crowds and with guidance from the regulars ordered quickly and magnanimously. It's Pakistani food in origin but the food crosses over into Indian a lot. Things of note on our table included a melt-in-the-mouth paneer kofta, a creamy butter chicken, well done keema matter and naans. The sheekh kebab (overcooked), aloo paratha (without aloo) and channa (judged against my own) left something to be desired but over all it was a super meal that completely lived up to our expectations.
Then V and I legged it to the home of other friends and ended up sitting and chatting and laughing till about 1.30am before heading home. The news and Law & Order to unwind and then a few pages of my book before blessed sleep. It was a super day. Nothing besides a few hours at Borough market was planned. Just goes to show that a day unplanned is often best.
And that brownies are one true gift.
Chakkar: to go around
Paneer kofta, butter chicken, keem matter, naans, sheekh kebab, aloo paratha, channa: All Indian dishes. Loosely: fried cottage cheese balls in gravy, chicken in tomato and cream sauce, mince meat and peas, bread baked in a tandoor, skewers of spiced mince, Indian bread stuffed with potatoes and chickpeas.
Borough market: 8 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TL (London Bridge tube station)
Khan’s: 13-15 Westbourne Grove, Bayswater, London W2 4UA