Posts Tagged ‘Whitechapel’

cooks at Needoo Grill, hard at work

It’s taken me months to get to Needoo Grill, mostly because it’s located just around the corner from its famous sibling, New Tayyabs. In other words, if I’m in Whitechapel craving tandoor, I usually end up at tried-and-true Tayyabs despite its brutally-long queues.

Two Fridays ago, Jon and I finally willed ourselves to forgo Tayyabs and try out Needoo Grill, which is owned by the former manager of Tayyabs (Needoo is apparently his nickname).

Having apparently forgotten that we were merely a party of two, Jon and I ordered veg samosas, seek kebabs, grilled lamb chops, karahi lamb, a special of the day (haleem), aubergine dal, peshwari naan, regular naan and rice pilau. Frighteningly, we ate it all.

lamb chops (£5) and seek kebabs (80p each) at Needoo Grill

Needoo Grill’s seek kebabs were as juicy and spicy as they are at Tayyabs, but Needoo’s lamb chops varied from tough to top-notch.  A few of the chops were covered in too much marinade, though I realize some people don’t believe you can ever have too much marinade.

chili paneer tikka (£2.50)

Paneer was wonderfully smoky and spicy.

dal baingun (aubergine dal) (£4.50)

I’d hoped to eat a dal makhni, which is the dark, buttery lentil dish that takes ages to make at home. But Needoo had run out (really?), so Jon and I ordered the aubergine dal (dal baingun) on the strength of Food Stories calling it “one of the best I’ve ever eaten”.  The smoky, silky aubergine added great texture and flavor to the yellow lentils, and it is indeed a delicious dish.  But it’s no dal makhni.  Sniff.

Karahi lamb (£5.50)

Friday's special of the day: haleem (£5.50)

The special-of-the-day was haleem, a thick, meaty paste.  Apparently you make haleem by braising meat (here, lamb) for hours with lentils, and then you puree the whole thing.  For me, eating pureed meat brings to mind unpleasant visions of living in an old person’s home, so Jon and I mixed our haleem with the karahi lamb dish we’d ordered, and that worked out better for us.  Haleem seems like it’d be an acquired taste.

peshwari naan (£2)

I’m a sucker for the sweet nuttiness of peshwari naan, but ordering an entire portion for myself was too much.  I liked that Needoo’s version was studded with fennel seeds to add a light fragrance to the sugary filling, but fennel seeds or no, the peshwari naan was too heavy for me to eat it solo.

Overall, eating at Needoo Grill was a pleasant experience.  Our servers were a lot less harried than they are at Tayyabs, and they took the time to make recommendations and answer questions.  The lamb chops might not be as consistently good as they are at Tayyabs, but everything else we tried was comparable.  And you definitely can’t beat Needoo’s prices.  Our tab for enough food to feed three was £35.

Needoo Grill, 87 New Road, E1 1HH; 020 7247 0648; closest tube station: Whitechapel

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exterior of New Tayyabs restaurant

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.

seekh kebab and lamb tikka at New Tayyabs

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).

Karahi king prawns special at New Tayyabs

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

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