In February 2005, when Jon and I visited London for the first time (as tourists), a reliable London source insisted we try New Tayyabs for great, cheap, “Indian” food. Over three years later, we’re still hooked. (And we now know it’s Punjabi food).
Though Whitechapel is kind of a schlep, Tayyabs’s food is reliably fresh and tasty; tap water is forthcoming; and service is efficient. Jon and I love bringing out-of-towners to New Tayyabs because it’s so much better than anything we’ve ever found on Brick Lane, so whenever we get a request for “Indian food in London,” Tayyabs is where we head. That’s what happened this past weekend, anyway.
While New Tayyabs isn’t as cheap as Lahore Kebab House around the corner (which I also like a lot), its sleek interior is a major step up from the decor of most other restos in the neighborhood.
I’m not offering any original advice when I say that you’ve got to start your meal at New Tayyabs with a big selection of grilled goodies from the tandoor, but you know, this piece of advice is a rare example of how it pays to follow the crowd. The seekh kebabs are spicy and juicy (and 80p per kebab!), and the lamb chops are oh-la-la smoky and hot from the delectable garam masala spice rub. After polishing off the lamb chops, you’ll no doubt be licking spicy goodness off your fingers. Who says the American south has a monopoly on amazing barbecue?
Other starters I’ve had include the paneer tikka (creamy and firm and def worth ordering for vegetarians) and the samosas (fine, but nothing compared to the grilled dishes).
In addition to offering a regular menu, New Tayyabs likes to mix things up with daily specials, and the Saturday special, karahi king prawns (photo above), is worth the relatively-pricey £12. The prawns are huge and juicy, not overcooked, and served in a refreshing, spicy sauce.
From New Tayyabs’s regular menu, I always order a “meat and spinach,” and specifically, I like to choose lamb as my meat (making it saag gosht, I guess). The lamb is always tender, and I can’t get enough of it when it’s covered in spicy spinach puree. The tarka dhal (£4.50 for a large bowl) is another of my faves, partly because I love the big, yellow lentils used in Tayyabs’s version. They’re so perfectly round and tasty that I think they’re split peas, actually.
The various naans are always hot and fluffy, though if I had to change one thing about them, it’d be to go easier on that dollop of ghee that goes on right before serving.
It’s pretty hard to go wrong at New Tayyabs (though I don’t enjoy the chicken dishes as much as those made from other meats – the chicken usually tastes a bit dry to me). Most main courses are about £5 for a small bowl and £10 for a big one.
New Tayyabs, 83-89 Fieldgate Street, E1 1JU, (0)207 247 9543; closest tube station: Whitechapel