About a month ago, I met Slow Food Kitchen, sloLondon and Table for One in Tooting to explore the neighbourhood. Little did I know that what was going to be a stroll and then lunch in a Sri Lankan restaurant was going to turn into a full blown food crawl. Stomachs, on your marks, get set…. go.
With empty stomachs at 1pm and late arrivals, we early birds stared longingly at the Dosa n Chutny across from Tooting Broadway tube station. I’d heard very good things about the place from at least 3 other people and a decision was made to have “breakfast” there when everyone arrived. It would be light, really. First to arrive were Idly (2 pieces for £1.60), fluffy steamed rice and lentil pillows served with a couple of wonderfully spicy chutnys and a mild soothing sambar.
Two dosas were ordered too – we’d heard that this place sold the best dosas in London. I have no idea if that’s true but they were indeed excellent, all thin and crispy. A Mutton Masala Dosa (£4.50) was filled with a mixture of lamb, potato and onion.
The Mysore Masala Dosa (£3.50) was filled with a lurid mixture of spicy potatoes and onions. Again, both dosas came with the chutnys and sambars – one dosa would make a perfect lunch, making each quite a bargain.
Dosa n Chutny
68 Tooting High St
London SW17 0RN
After “breakfast”, we strolled up and down Tooting High Street and entered Tooting Market and the Broadway Market. There we found a Mauritian food stall filled with lots of things we couldn’t identify. Luckily for us, the men behind the counter were extremely friendly and helped identify most things.
Roti chaud was a lentil wrap filled with curried beans, a fresh tomato sauce and a fresh chilli sauce. The wrap has a characteristically dusty texture and I thought it was alright. I might have to go back to try it again.
I was less taken with the plateful of fritters we also bought. The bread fritters were the most amusing – slices of white bread dipped in pakora batter and then fried. Yeah, not my thing but I hear they’re quite popular in Mauritius.
There was also a stop at Pepi’s Guyanese Food, another stall in the markets, where we tried an order of pholourie, quite moreish little lentil fritters, served with a fresh chilli sauce. They had lots of other great looking things in their display cabinet.
Back on the high street and further down at a street stand, we got excited over the last Alphonso mangoes of the season and also over fruit I’d not seen before. Jamuns are a dark purple fruit with a single pit and are really only edible when fully ripe and a dark purple inside. But even when ripe, they’re still quite astringent and I didn’t quite warm to them.
There was also a short stop at Pooja Sweets for sweet and savoury snacks but my mind was already at our final destination – Jaffna House – for Sri Lankan cuisine. This is what we originally came here for! As it was late in the day, we managed to beat the lunch crowds but that there were still diners impressed me – people were dropping by all through the afternoon.
We started by splitting a couple of their short eats, their name for the snacks that are very popular in their country. The Mutton Roll (£1.10) was spiced meat and potato wrapped in a pancake, coated with bread crumbs and deep fried. The Cutlet (£1.10) was a mad of potatoes, fish, spices, onions and chillies rolled in bread crumbs and deep fried. They were both mildly spiced and I think would be popular with non-Sri-Lankans too (on the contrary, I once bought some short eats at a place in Wembley and while they were delicious, they almost blew my head off).
I was very keen to try at least one of their devilled dishes. Their Devilled Mutton (£4.50) was dry cooked, very tender mutton fried with lots of onions, green chillies and spices. Our forks were flying – I need to learn how to make this at home!
String Hoppers were ordered with Sothy (5 pieces for £2.50). These steamed red rice flour strings were not unlike noodles and the sothy was a coconut milk gravy. I spooned the sothy all over my string hopper and then sprinkled on the lovely spicy coconut sambol. They were delicious.
Fried String Hoppers with Mixed Vegetables (£4.00) could have been a Chinese-Sri Lankan fusion dish. Stir fried noodles!
Chicken Kotthu (£4.50) was chopped up roti fried together with with chicken curry, egg, onions and green chillies. It was fantastic, so full of flavour and incredibly easy to just spoon into one’s mouth continuously.
I have no idea how the others found space for dessert but I tried a spoonful of their Watal Appam (£1.75). It was a palm sugar custard that wasn’t too sweet and it certainly tasted much better than it looked!
Even with countless soft drinks ordered between us, our bill at Jaffna House was only £27 in total. And the short eats are even cheaper when you takeaway – I took home 3 of the cutlets for only a pound.
90 Tooting High St
London SW17 0RN
How in the world did we manage a whole afternoon of eating?! We only parted at 6pm and I certainly didn’t eat much else that day. Thank you, Tooting.