Posts Tagged ‘Southall’

Celebrate Diwali in London

Diwali, also called  festival of lights,  is the most important celebration of the year in India. The date varies slightly from year to year as it depends on the October-November new moon. Behind it is the fight of gods – a symbol of the victory of good on evil, of light on darkness and hance involves the lightling of  small clay lamps filled with oil. This year, Diwali is on Wednesday October 26 and the best place to be that day will be in Southall, known as London’s Little India.

There will also be plenty of events and activities in the coming month , have a look!

On October 15, creative kids can make their own lantern at the Horniman Museum.

- On October 16, Trafalgar Square will turn very Indian with songs, dances, colourful food stalls. An enchanting atmosphere which I strongly recommend.

- From October 18-30, Dishoom will propose two special finger-licking good menus. The £22.50 includes Phadalri Kofta Ruby (a dish of dumplings stuffed with vegetables, paneer and pomegranate), Biryani, slow cooked and layered with winter vegetabless and aromatic rice encades in a dough purdah. If you upgrade to the £27.50 option there will be grilled lobstair tail cooked with chilli, lime and coriander followed by the Chicken Berry Byriani . Both feast start with either a passionfruit lassi or bellini served with a Dahi Puri (a mini puffed bread shell filled with chickpeas, yogurt, raita and tamarind), a choice of freshly baked breads, their very famous black daal, a Gola or Kulfi ice cream (try the pomegranate and chilli flavour, my favourite) and a house chai. You will also get a complimentary munthai, the traditional cake gift for Diwali. Now that is a splendid feast!

- On October 18, put on your dancing shoes at Cinnamon Kitchen. After a gorgeous cocktail and delicious canapés, you can enjoy fascinating Bollywood dances by Honey Kalaria’s Dance Academy. The magician Bjarat Patel is sure to fascinate you too. The evening costs £35 and profits go to a charity supporting those in poverty in rural india. Cinnamon Kitchen also proposes a special £45 Diwali menu from October 17-22 and this will make your mouth water: delicate tandoori king prwans, grilled partridge, roasted rack of lamb, Bombay spices vef=getables and a creamy malai hawa dessert…

- On October 20,  Divertimenti will be teaching a cooking workshop to familiarise yourself with the – mostly vegetarian – Indian cuisine. 7 dishes to discover, including biryani, spinach bread, and a special carrot cake with cardamom and pistachios.

- On October 22nd, take the kids to the Greenwich Heritage Center. They propose activities every Saturday from 10.30-noon. That day will be dedicated to Diwali collages and bunting. Alternatively, let them make a puppet show on that them at the Museum of London.

- Still on October 22nd but in the evening, dance till the end of the night at Anise, Cinnamon Kitchen’s ever so trendy lounge. Quite a party with henna tattooists and palm readers! Entrance is £10 or free if you have been dining in the restaurant before hand.

- On October 23, have fun at Dishoom‘s family day. The restaurant has asked Vayu Naidu, an internationally reknown storyteller, to explain the legend of god Rama and his wife Sita. There will be face painting too if your little ones fancy being one of the characters of that story. Everyone can also join artist Damon Priestley to create a beautiful pavement work of art called rangoli with coloured chalk. At 18.30 (yes, there is more!), don’t miss the projection of  Sita sings the blues, a brilliant cartoon on Diwali.

- On November 12, the National Maritime Museum will be joining in with a procession of lanterns through the park followed by live music.

- On November 13,Watford theatre  will conclude on a final festive note with even more Diwali music and colours.

Southall – Little India in London

A stroll in Southall (zone 4, get a train from Paddington Station) is like stepping in another country altogether. This, my friends, is Little India. You will glimpse saris, sikh and buddhist temples, silky fabric in stores, entire aisles filled with dozens of varieties and shapes of peas and lentils, flashy coloured treats, extra-sugary but absolutly irresistible like the very orange jalebis, rainbow ranges of bracelets, sun filled guavas and mangos, refined necklaces of gold, street food, shelves curving under the weight of spices, let alone the terribly exotic vegetables that you have never encountered before…

I barely dared to take pictures – it seemed to break the charm of this neighbourhood so community-linked. I spent however, a good hour Quality Food  collecting the ingredients for the most amazing dahl, finding amazing squashes, discovering a box of Thums up, the Indian cola, adding a bottle of pure cinnamon syrup, masala mix to flavour tea… I could not leave without trying the panipuri, crunchy  cup of bread filled with chick peas, potatoes and spices and of course stopping at the pan shop to have one of those funny leaves filled with all kind of contents and meant to have digestive vertues. Mine was sweet themed with sugar coated fennel seeds, rose petal jam, coconut… A fireworks of flavours.

Look out Tastour for culinary walks in that neighbourhood – an excellent introduction to the culture, history, food of Southall. Ideal when you have a thousand questions and no idea where to start.


This Week End in London

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