What a difference 24 hours can make. After a very disappointing night at a tourist Indonesian restaurant in Central London, we end up at a great little South India joint in Peckham.
I’ve never been to Peckham before, well only on a Saturday night when Del Boy would find his way on to my teatime tele viewing. I was a young lad way back in the early 80’s.
To be honest I never contemplated going to Peckham, but after a recommendation to try Ganapati, we just had to go. So a venture south of the river was set up.
As you walk into Ganapati you get a hit of the spices being used in the kitchen. It’s a good one, and really did, just for a moment, transport me back to India. This was going to be good.
We had been warned that the place was small, and yes it is. We took a chance by just turning up, as I’m reliable informed you need to book for dinner. Thankfully it was mildly full when we turned up for some lunch on probably the last good weekend of the year.
I like the feel of the place, with its sparten look and reclaimed furniture, the mixture of fotos on the walls and a statue of Ganesh by the front door to look over the kitchen and its patrons. Yes this was a nice place.
I’ve never been to South India, having only ventured up from Mumbai on my many travels within this incredible country.
Since I’ve only ever been to the north my knowledge of south Indian food is pretty much zip. It’s weird, but thinking about it, I seem to have shied away from the food of the south. Well this was about to change.
The menu is pretty short, which is how I like it. Makes sense for the kitchen, but it is varied enough to get a good idea that the kitchen can do some magic back there.
I was so tempted and kinda regret not going for the veggie street snacks, or the paneer pakora. Instead we opted for some pappadoms with the house pickles. Boring I know, but I like them and I’m a creature of habit.
This was the one thing I missed after that mental hotel visiting trip through India last year, was the extent and quality of the pickles available even at the simplest hole in the wall up to the plushest hotel restaurant in India.
Here at Ganapati was no different, The 4 pickles and chutneys were all damn good. The coriander and coconut chutney shone as the best. So refreshing,
It had been an age since I last had a Thali, and today I was gonna go for the classic. Unfortunately it was not served up on a banana leaf, as is the custom in the south. That would have been messy.
It was a good combo on the platter. I chose the chicken curry, which came with a lovely thick daal, a tart rasam (that I first got the taste for in Burma of all places), a simple salad and a cooling raita.
This was a good selection and al the dishes were cooked really well. Good seasoning with the spices. It reminded me of being back in India.
The wife had the Guinea Fowl Masala. The leg and breast cooked in a rich and earthy masala sauce. Damn it was good. The fowl was cooked well and was still juicy. Nice dish.
We also shared a paratha, even though both dishes came with rice. I just love breads. This sadly was not a great paratha, it wasn’t as good as I was hoping it to be. Maybe I’ve just been spoilt by working for an Indian family owned company, who have a guy working for them who makes the best paratha on the planet. OK maybe a slight over exaggeration but they are bloody good, especially his aloo paratha. Ramjeevan I salute you.
We were too full to tackle desert, but because of Diwalli we’ve been laden down with sweets for the last week or so. I can’t eat anymore of them.
I’m a happy man, not only has the memory of a bad meal the night before washed from me, but I think I have found my new favourite Indian restaurant, after my beloved Green Chilli in Hammersmith had to close over a year ago due to a fire gutting the place. Not sure if it will ever reopen. Looking at the boarded front, me thinks not. But we live in hope.
All that is irrelevant now, as Ganapati is now my new number one. The only problem is, as I live in Stoke Newington, it’s not really a place we can just pop out to, unlike all you lucky folk who happen to live close by. These trips will have to be preplanned, but until Ganapati decide to relocate north or we move south, then Abi Ruchi is my close by pop in joint. Sadly the food is not in the same class though.