“Food, glorious food.”
Ah yes, that famous number from Oliver that seems to perfectly describe the meaning of life, in my humble opinion at least. Perhaps you can’t tell because I stand at a mere 5’1, but food is a particular passion and pastime of mine. Naturally, the promise of Streets Eats Fest was just too good to resist.
Old Spitalfields Market is a favourite haunt of the Dadabhoys, having spent a large proportion of my childhood holidays with dear old Papa there (this was back when he used to work for the banks that line Liverpool Street). It was actually a very nostalgic trip for him, as he pointed out the various buildings he remembered from his banking days. So, it was rather fitting that the trip down memory lane ended in food. Some fathers and daughters bond over cars, some over sports. Papa and I? Well, we bond over those things too, but food is the holy grail for us.
Streets Eats Fest was organised by Halal Gems, a nifty little website (and now app!) that points you in the right direction of, you guessed it, halal food. It was a welcome sight, knowing there was so much food on offer, all of it halal. The winning factor? It wasn’t just the stereotypical Indian cuisine. And the halal factor wasn’t in your face.
Halal food can seem so limited and restrictive, particularly in the Western world. There’s a misconception about halal food, and it was great to see a food festival shift that perspective. It was good, wholesome food that everyone could enjoy, and I do mean everyone. There were meat options, veggie options and vegan options. Not once did I hear the fated question; “is it halal?” I’ve never seen such a mix of people and cultures come together to simply enjoy food.
Now, I would say the queuing time was terrible, but it was a Saturday in London, so really, did I expect anything less? It did mean strategizing the queues I wanted to join, however.
A sourdough naan filled with chicken tikka, coriander, pickles and sev (an indian savoury snack). I would never think to add sev to a wrap, but it made all the difference! It’s all in the crunch! Sev aside, the chicken itself was marinated beautifully and was so tender. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a wrap so fast!
Papa tried the combo wrap, so his chicken tikka had the addition of beetroot dhal. I have to be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of beetroot to begin with, so I wasn’t particularly taken by it, but I will say it provided a nice contrast to the chicken.
Alright, alright, I am aware that I am biased, so I will try my best to be as fair as I can. I love the concept! A waffle on a stick, piled with delicious toppings… it looks heavenly and will of course, be instagrammed. I absolutely love the branding, it’s so cute and quirky. And I love the way it’s served too.
As for the waffle itself, I unfortunately just wasn’t wowed by it. I ordered the Biscoff variety, but I couldn’t taste any Biscoff at all! I was expecting a healthy dose of the stuff… My waffle was covered in white chocolate, half a Speculoos biscuit and some fudge pieces. I probably could have done with more toppings, because the waffle was very doughy and needed flavours to balance that out.
Papa, with his peanut butter addiction, went for the Reese’s combination. He concurred about the waffle, and also the toppings- the ratio of Reese’s cups to the size of the waffle just wasn’t quite right.
Perhaps these guys can be forgiven as they were rushed off their feet, but I was a little underwhelmed, especially as they have a great concept going!
Chit Chaat Chai
I just want to start by saying I adore the name! It’s a great pun, it has alliteration and contains two very important aspects of Indian street food.
I did sample the Chaat, and it was lovely! I certainly didn’t look attractive with Tamarind sauce dripping down my chin, but the yoghurt puris were delicious! They were perfectly crispy and generously filled to the brim.
Karak Chai is certainly more up my street than Masala Chai, which is why I probably didn’t enjoy the Masala Chai as much as I would have liked. But, I cannot deny you could taste all of the spices- it was exactly the kick we needed to head back out in the rain. Next time, I’d love to give the Keema Pau and the Samosas a try, because they did look very tempting.
Ah, the ones that got away. I had a train to catch, so I only got to sample the above three vendors. I’m gutted Oli Baba’s was closed for business- I had been craving halloumi fries all week! If there had been more time, I would have definitely gone for the Korean fried chicken wings at Bintang (see what I mean about not just Indian cuisine?). The Dutch pancakes smelt heavenly and there was Persian ice cream too, which looked almost too pretty to eat.
Streets Eats Fest was most definitely the right way to spend a Saturday! It’s a shame the insane queues put a dampener on the day, but I’ll be looking forward to the next one!