The story started with Cinnamon Club, set in the historic Grade II listed former Westminster Library. Executive Chef Vivek Singh brought together the essence of traditional Indian food and innovative, creative twists. Now an institution of fine dining in London, it was followed by sister addresses: Cinnamon Kitchen; Cinnamon Soho and now Cinnamon Bazaar, inspired by the atmosphere of marketplaces and street food.
The latter is, symbolically, only a few minutes from Covent Garden – now a luxurious shopping area, once a fashionable fruit and vegetable market. But once you have pushed the green, hand painted door, be prepared to step into another world – vibrant with colours and spices… A souk atmosphere, yes, but in extravagant elegance: silk awnings, flower baskets hanging from the ceilings, red, yellow and green teapots neatly lined, earthy style plates piled high, pastel walls stencilled with dusky rose, blue and gold patterns.
Bazaars being dotted all over the spice, silk and frankincense routes, the menu blends influences from the India, Iran, the Middle East into a wide range of small dishes, and particularly chaats, savoury snacks usually offered at road-side tracks from stalls or food carts. I fell for the tongue tickling yet super comforting Aloo tikki chaat, spiced potato cakes served over a curry of white peas. Add to this yogurt, a mint-coriander sauce, a tangy tamarind chutney and a good sprinkling of crunchy chickpea vermicelli and pomegranate seeds. It’s a wonderful mix of smoothness, creaminess, juiciness, the potato mash proving the perfect transitions between the sauces and spices. Absolutely wonderful with one of top mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana’s cocktail – whom you know best as Mr Lyan. I chose the Falooda Swizzle, the white rum dancing with the crème d’abricot and lime beautiful, reminding me of an exotic version of orgeat…
It’s quite impossible ordering only just a couple of plates. You may have wanted to be reasonable, “see how it goes” but you certainly go crazy. Yes, all right, add the crab bonda – delicate balls of spiced crab flesh and beetroot, dipped in a chickpea batter then fried lightly. Golden on the outside, the meat tinted a beautiful red… Oh yes, yes, a creamy daal (fragranced with cloves) too with a peshwari naan, a salty butter taste on top but sweetly filled with coconut, raisins and almond.
The masterpiece definitely was the Lamb galauti kebab. Meat minced finely, cooked in butter… simply melting in your mouth wonderfully with a spicy kick. That is just gorgeous… It comes on a piece of saffron paratha (a flat, grilled, unleavened bread) and this spicy coriander sauce. And is topped with yogurt mixed with a refreshing mix of diced carrots, cucumber, pomegranate, a little more coriander sauce. OMG applies.
And yes, yes, there are amazing desserts too. A decadent dark chocolate and walnut cake, served with coffee ice cream that reminds me of Vietnamese iced coffees. Or try the gujiya, a sweet dumpling filled with chopped dates and ginger and fried. Best enjoyed with a Masalai Chai, the scent of cardamom calling you again and again.
Oh, Cinnamon Bazaar, I will be back. I make it my mission to try everything on that menu… Plural – the breakfast, lunch/dinner and afternoon tea ones!
Cinnamon Bazaar | 28 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7JS