Review – Tayyabs, something’s changed

If it seems like I am visiting a lot of Indian restaurants, I am. From the cheap and cheerful to the high faluting refined fine dining type places. Since London has them all, it’s a constant merry go round.

There are so many Indian/ Pakistani restaurants in London and one that keeps being mentioned as one of the best is Tayyabs in the East End of London. I have been coming here for quite a few years, always with a big group of Pakistani friends because it is one of the better affordable halal restaurants. A recent visit was disappointing, the standards have dropped.

Tayyabs is like the local canteen and used to be full of families tucking into it’s  Punjabi food. On this recent visit, I brought a visitor from Washington where good Indian food is a bit harder to come by. We queued with anticipation of the authentic culinary  experience that I promised. Eventually, we got shoehorned into a table close to the kitchen end of the dining room which meant we ended with hair and clothes smelling of grilled meat. Served by a Bollywood star lookalike with only a hint of acknowledgement and a grunt. This really is the Wong Kee of curry places.

So we started off with a sizzzling dish of lamb chops and shami kebabs. The lamb chops were not marinated enough, spiced but not chilli hot and were really tough and the kebabs had shrunk in size and were really soggy. These used to be meaty, well spiced and seasoned and not soft and soggy.

Tayyabs Grilled Lamb Chops
Tayyabs Grilled Lamb Chops and Shami Kebabs

Each dish was served in it’s own wok like karahi, which was more for decor as the curries were obviously cooked in a massive pot and served in these karahis for presentation. A bit redundant really seeing as it took up so much space and on the little tiny tables, there is hardly enough room for more than 2 dishes.

This is what wikipedia has to say about the Karahi

Karahi (also spelled KadaiKaraikadhikadahi, or kadhai (all pronounced the same, ka-rai ({IPA-en|kəˈraɪ|})is a type of thick, circular, and deep cooking pot (similar in shape to a wok) used in Indian[1]and Pakistani cuisine. Also called a cheena chatti, kadai are useful for the shallow or deep frying of meat, potatoes, sweets, and snacks such as samosa and fish, but are most noted for the simmering of stews or posola[2][3], which are often also named karahi after the utensil. Stews prepared in a karhai include “chicken karhai” and “karhai paneer.” Stews prepared using other methods are sometimes also referred to as karhai. The word is frequently used in Pakistan, India and Nepal.

Before we made a dent in the grilled meats, the other dishes, rice and naan arrived together with our jug of over sweetened mango lassi. On the next table was a Punjabi couple and the guy was so big he looked really uncomfortable wedged in between us and the next table. They did order the sizzling keema dish which smelt wonderful and they kindly offered to share some with us.

Tayyabs Lamb Karahi

The lamb karahi was delicious, rich creamy sauce, great with the naan and not too hot either. (The place was a bit dark and I can’t seem to take decent decent pictures in that light.)

Tayyabs sag aloo

The sag aloo was a waste of time, the potato was so undercooked and still hard, it tasted like it had just been peeled and warmed through in the spinach mush.

Tayyabs Karahi Bindi
Tayyabs Karahi Bindi

The bindi or okra was done very well, just crunchy enough, nicely spiced and a very nice accompaniment to the meat dishes.

This place used to be a reliable family restaurant with decent cooking and very very cheap (like below £10 per head) . Not so anymore, the meal for 2 with the drinks totalled £30, which is still cheap by London standards but about a 50% increase from what it was for lower quality food. Time to try some new places. I hear that Mirch Masala in Tooting is a good substitute and for good halal food nearby, try the Medinah Grill a popular Turkish family restaurant across the road.

NB: If you want alcohol, it’s BYO but do check during Ramadan which starts on 11 August 2010, menus might change and alcohol might be disallowed.


83-89 Fieldgate Street
London E1 1JU
020 7247 6400

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