Let’s get this straight. Street food is awesome. I spent 2011 backpacking, half the time of which I spent in South East Asia. The street food was one of the most enjoyable parts of the region; from Pad Thai in Bangkok, to Pho in Saigon, Murtabak in Sulawesi and these ridiculously greasy amazing pancake things they served with an array of savoury and sweet condiments on pretty much every beach that had a bar near it (a wonderful kebab or Chicken Cottage alternative). I’ve great memories of street food in South East Asia and it’s one of the things about travelling that I miss the most. Bar that dodgy tuna baguette I bought for the journey down the Mekong from the Thai border – admittedly, a mistake. But travelling isn’t travelling without a bit of food poisoning. Especially when you’re stuck on a boat for seven hours.
One of the destinations at the top of my list of places to travel is India. I dream of eating curries for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I don’t need to tell you that you can get some fantastic Indian food in Britain, but inevitably most of it is anglicised to some extent. I don’t really know anything about Indian street food. So I’m delighted not only to have recently discovered a wealth of independent, adventurous street food vendors in London, but whispers of some fantastic Indian street food.
One of these places is Horn OK Please. I first heard about Horn OK Please two or three months ago via twitter, from people who were lucky enough to snap some of their South Indian street food for lunch at Kings Cross’ Eat Street. I heard nothing but good things. Eat Street recently changed to Kerb, and to celebrate the new venture, Kerb hosted a launch party that ran until 10pm a couple of weeks ago. There are currently no plans to do so, but I am definitely of the opinion that they should do a once-a-month all dayer/night event. Accessible to more people, the potential for increased success for the vendors and food porn everywhere…can’t go wrong. I’m not saying this for selfish reasons at all of course. I will say that I would change plans to ensure I could go every month though.
The problem comes when trying to pick between vendors you’ve heard brilliant things about and they all happen to be in the same place. Committed to the Indian street food cause however, I went straight to Horn OK Please, where they happily piled up a plate with ‘a little bit of everything’ for the bargain price of £6.50.
The most unique part of the meal was the Pani Puri – a round, hollow puri with a hole in the top, in which the masters of Horn OK Please poured in a mixture of potato, chickpeas, chaat masala and chutneys. I was instructed to put the whole thing in my mouth at once, otherwise the special water they had also added would go everywhere. I’d struggle to describe it as anything other than an explosion of flavour and textures in my mouth; as standard as that phrase has become, it’s true. It was the most interesting Indian food I’ve had, definitely not your standard lamb dansak takeaway on a Friday night.
The ‘little bit of everything’ also included a potato filled dosa and bhel puri; an assortment of textures with tomato, potato, green and tamarind chutneys, fresh coriander and red onions, garnished with pomegranate seeds that added an extra burst colour to an already exciting plate. A lover of meat, I didn’t even realise that everything was vegetarian until someone asked me if it had been, which I think is an excellent sign of how satisfyingly good the food was, if also indicating how lacking I am as a food blogger.
As well as at Kerb, and true to Indian in London form, Horn OK Please can be found at Brick Lane on the weekends. I urge you to hunt them down, try a little bit of everything and have the world of Indian food opened up to you as you would never get in an Indian restaurant on your local high street. And then start saving for a plane ticket to Delhi, because it will make you want to try it in the mania of an Indian city. Or maybe that’s just me.