330 Uxbridge Road, Pinner, HA5 4HR www.sakonis.co.uk
As the zeitgeist noses out new Indian cuisines, could Gujurati be next? Vegetarian Indian restaurant Sakonis thinks so.
Launching its family-run second site in swanky Hatch End last weekend, the Guju upmarket cafe hopes to lure in local professionals and families - and those from further afield. Its first restaurant, the eponymous Wembley stalwart, was established in 1984 catering to the nearby local community of "Little India".
But the food incorporates far-flung countries: Sakonis' dishes are fused with East African flavours which is where the family has been based over generations - Sakonis itself means marketplace in Swahili. There is also an Indo-Chinese section on the menu
Co-owner Kavita Thakrar says they are bringing healthy and vegan foods into this new menu including khadis (yoghurts), spicy quinoa, and a very tasty chilli avocado guacamole with home-fried green banana (matoke) and cassava (mogo) chips, showing the East African influence.
“We are passionate about providing a diverse array of flavoursome, high quality, vegetarian dishes for our customers” she says. Foods are authentic-tasting as many customers are fellow Gujus.
Other winners on the menu are the wonderful Indo-Chinese style chilli paneer; a moist and yoghurty dhokla (steamed semolina savoury sponge cakes with coriander chutney, recipe below); and bhajiya, little balls made from chickpea flour with ginger, methi and coriander.
The rest of India is also represented for those needing more familiarity - crispy dosa pancakes from South India and bhel, a crunchy snack of puffed rice, crushed puri and vegetables, mixed with tamarind sauce.
Prices are reasonable, ranging from £3.50 for a small plate of katchori - pea/dhal pastries - to £8 for the chilli paneer.
On preview night, locals were already champing at the bit to come in, promising a regular cohort of aficionados. Hatch End may be down the road from "Little India" but no doubt many other Littles from the community will soon want to pull up a chair.
Try Sakonis recipe for Dhokla