Pakistan in London: South Asian “food streets” of London

British-Pakistani blogger Mariam Sheikh, a London-bred communications specialist and food enthusiast joins our World in London challenge, to talk about the joys of savouring Pakistani cuisine in London.

Where can you find Pakistan in London? Well, with the Office for National Statistics stating there are around 180,000 Londoners of Pakistani descent, the answer to that question is “just about anywhere!”

Newham, Redbridge and Waltham Forest are where you can find the largest Pakistani communities in the city. Pockets in West and South London such as Tooting and Wembley are also home to thriving Pakistani communities.

Like other Londoners of South Asian decent, considerable numbers of Pakistanis have set up their own businesses, including grocery stores and newsagents, as well as myriad restaurants offering tantalising and mouth-watering Pakistani cuisine.

Pakistani cuisine is not all that different from Indian cuisine (it was once the same country after all) and restaurants in London have often marketed themselves along the lines of the traditional Indian curry house. But there are slight differences; Pakistani cuisine is likely to have lots of barbequed and grilled meat, with some – but less – sauce dishes than other South Asian restaurants and hardly any fruit or coconut used in curries.

Today there are many Pakistani restaurants that are gaining confidence to break the mould of the “curry house” image; some market their food specifically as Pakistani and most offer a modern, contemporary and affordable dining experience. Areas in London have developed where entire streets are full of South Asian restaurants, and many of the most popular ones offer Pakistani cuisine.

Some of my top Pakistani restaurant picks are:

Biriyani, masala fish, seekh kebab, tandoori lamb chops and falooda are all typical on a Pakistani menu and are sure to have your lips smacking at their appetising aroma. So next time you’re in these areas be sure to make your way down to the nearest Pakistani restaurant and savour the delectable flavours for yourself!

http://www.myspace.com/mariamsheikh

What’s your experience of Pakistani culture┬áin London? Tell us in the comments below.

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  1. Boo says:

    I went to Tayyab last week and the food was amazing – the best grilled meats in town. The restaurant has also been spruced up and expanded. There’s now another dining room and more tables, so the queue wasn’t too bad.

  2. mariam says:

    Haven’t been to Tayyabs recently so to hear that it’s expanded is well exciting, particularly as it gets so packed, will have to go soon!

  3. Really great read! Also agree with the top pick of restaurants! I have eaten in all of them and can vouch for the quality!

  4. mariam says:

    I also should have added that Pakistani cuisine has lots of influences from Arabic, Persian and Turkish flavours, bit like the national language Urdu – which apparently ‘shows the unity between the linguistic and culinary divisions of Pakistani culture’ according to wikipedia!

  5. mari says:

    goooood nice food mmmmmmmm

  6. Zoe Craig says:

    Was introduced to the wonders of Brixton Village last night by some of my friends who live in the area. We weren’t able to try the authentic pakistani street food at elephant, http://www.elephantcafe.co.uk/ cos it was already completely full! But I will be heading back there in the coming weeks, because it looked absolutely amazing.

  7. ALE-Xpressed says:

    While many restaurants in London will do good on Bar-be-cue and grilled Pakistani food, most of them are worthless on fake curries. Why not, the word curry itself is fake, there is nothing like curry in Pakistani food. Ask any of the restaurants for a Karahi Gosht and that will tell the story. Putting a lot of stuff with some spices, tomatoes and onions in the pan and coooking it hot red doesn’t make it Pakistani food – the delicacy of Pakistani food is completely missing in UK restaurants. Tayyabs and Needos are good on Tikka, Kebabs etc.

    The best Pakistani food in UK can be found at Khyber Pass on Romford Road – a small restaurant but real Pashtun cuisine. Similarly, Lahori Nihari off Green Street serves the best Nihari, Chikkar Cholay, Halwa Puri and Mix Grill in the UK – this is again a small establishment.

  8. Syed A says:

    I completely disagree with the writer. Being a Pakistani by origin but living in London for many years, I have to say that Tayyabs, Needo, Lahore Kebab House and the like are all second rate Pakistani restaurants, that have customized their food to better suit the British palate.

    Like ALE says the only authentic Pakistani food is at Khyber Pass. Shame it is so far out and has poor transport links, but if only for an occasion, you should make the trek. Khyber Pass’s karahi is outstanding and the only karahi that reminds me of home.

  9. suleman says:

    Brits are the worst customers to serve Indian/Pakistani food. They have no idea of food and taste. They have no culinary history and when they pass remarks on the quality of food, it seems to be ridiculous. The authentic Pakistani food is hard working job and should be paid accordingly.

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