Visit London Blog » multicultural Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 22 May 2015 17:44:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Kenya in London: Sample Kenyan Cooking at Safari Club in North Finchley Fri, 20 Jan 2012 12:00:09 +0000

Next up in our World in London challenge: Kenya. After a lot of research, I found this restaurant in North Finchley, which offers Kenyan-Indian cusine. 

Raj Patel, 46, is Indian, born in Kenya. When he moved to London, he was inspired to open a restaurant serving the kind of food his mother cooked, an infusion of Kenyan and Indian cooking.

He’s now been running Safari Club for eight years. The 70-seater restaurant also has a side bar with a big screen for showing sporting events, and a large garden which is really popular in the summer months. I spoke to Raj about what makes the food at Safari Club different.

“The key to Kenyan cooking is the spices. The spices are what make the difference. We use an infusion of different flavours in our Kenyan-Indian cooking. Everything we make is freshly cooked: don’t come here expecting fast food or anything like that. If you order a dish, it’s going to take 20 minutes, because we cook each dish using fresh ingredients, fresh spices, fresh vegetables. And that’s true with the meat too. We don’t use frozen products here. And you can taste the difference.

“The most popular dish is the Nairobi Chicken. It has a real kick to it, but it’s not too hot. It’s not hot like a vindaloo, it’s a better flavour. Even people who’ve arrived saying they don’t like curry, but have then tried the Nairobi Chicken say they like it!

I learnt cookery from my mum. She’s the inspiration here, so you get proper home cooking Indian-Kenyan style. And while I do more front-of-house work now, I’ve trained all the chefs who work here, they’ve learnt from me. I’m guess I’m just passionate about cooking.”

Raj tells me Safari Club can be a lively place at the weekend, popular with families in the restaurant section and guys watching sport in the bar. I asked if they’ll be showing the Olympics on the big screen, and if so, which country will Raj be supporting?

“I’ll be watching India and Kenya, and England (Team GB) too! I’ve been living here most of my life so I’m hoping to celebrate with all three! It’s sometimes tricky when you have England playing India and so on, but hopefully all three will do well.”

If you’re looking for a taste of Kenya in London, Safari Club is at 975 High Road, North Finchley, London, N12

Do you know where else you can sample Kenyan culture in London? Let us know in the comments below.

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The World in One City: Philippe Sibelly’s Multicultural London Photography Project Wed, 08 Sep 2010 09:00:14 +0000

“Where are you from?” is a question Philippe Sibelly has pondered a lot. Born in Marseilles, Philippe has travelled widely, living in Sydney and Ireland before settling in London.

It’s London’s multiculturalism that inspired his World in One City challenge. In 2005, in the run-up to the announcement that London would host the 2012 Olympics, Philippe decided to capture that multiculturalism in a photography project.

A year and a half later, Philippe had a set of 202 photographs, representing each of the countries taking part in the Olympic Games at the time. (Now there are 205). The photos are all currently on display in Rich Mix in East London. In each Polaroid portrait, the subject is holding the previous photo, creating a chain, Philippe explains, like the Olympic flame. In view of our own current World in London blog project, I felt I had to go and meet him.

“At the start, it was really easy,” Philippe says. “I thought, ‘I know people from pretty much everywhere.’ I tried doing things to challenge people’s perceptions. Karim from Peru is a refugee from Palestine. So he doesn’t look like he’s from Peru. But he is. And in the next photo, he’s being held by an Israeli, Maya.”

“But it became more and more difficult. It started taking so long. I spent hours on email, organising with friends, travelling around the city to meet people from different places. To New Malden to find someone from South Korea. To Woolwich to meet someone from Africa…”

“Some days, I’d travel around and only take one or two photos. It was really, really frustrating.”

As well as meeting friends of friends and colleagues, Philippe says he also stopped people in the street to ask where they were from. “Very few people got annoyed,” he says. “Really, despite what people say, Londoners are very open. It may be because I’m a foreigner myself, but people were open to taking part.”

Looking through the chain of photos is fascinating. Philippe remembers all of them, and recounts many anecdotes that stand out for him.

About Jonas, a monk from the Solomon Islands; Fredi from Mali, a footballer who played for Tottenham and West Ham; how top London chef Giorgio Locatelli wanted to represent Italy; and about Magdalena from Serbia Montenegro.

Magdalena presents what Philippe finds is an interesting question. In his project, she represents a country that no longer exists. Where does she say she’s “from” now? The slightly artificial construct of nationality fascinates Philippe. The boys he photographed to represent Haiti (Adam) and Pakistan (Zishaan) have never actually been to those countries. “But Adam said it would make his mother, who’s from Haiti, very proud. And Zishaan, well, he thinks of himself as fully English and fully Pakistani. He said to me, ‘How can I be half and half? I’m both.’ I find that strong sense of nationalism, from people who’ve never even been to the country they say they’re from, very strange.”

It’s a testament to London’s unique diversity that of the whole list of Olympic nations (a list he chose because it’s fairly neutral), Philippe only struggled to find people from about five. “For these five nations I chose someone linked in some way to this place: someone who has lived there, has family there, or even, in the case of Nauru, I settled for someone who knew where it was.”

Philippe has mixed views on the complex issue of London’s multiculturalism. “Diversity is great, but you can’t be too romantic about it. It’s not always a positive thing for everyone. When your local shop stops selling your sausages and starts selling samosas, it can be difficult for people to get used to.

“The best people can do is live with it, and get the positives out of it. Take the good.”

You can see Philippe’s World In One City photographs at Rich Mix, or online here.

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