Dean Bailey gets ahead of the latest trend with a vibrant street food lunch at Newcastle’s Dabbawal
Anyone who keeps up with the hottest food trends will know all about the explosion of street food from the Indian subcontinent, which began with street stalls and pop-ups and has now soaked London in uber-cool all-day Bombay-style cafés which pack in the cool crowd sunrise to sunset.
Newcastle has been way ahead of the street food game thanks to Dabbawal, the first genuine street food kitchen to hit the North back in 2011 and now packing them in across its two branches in the city centre and Jesmond, where the team serve up authentic street food, grills, wraps, curries and Indian tapas pates in a vibrant, buzzing atmosphere drenched in subcontinent cool.
Now, the folk here have come up with a new lunch menu inspired by the street markets of Mumbai and the legendary Bademiya Stall, which has stood in Mumbai for more than 75 years and is famed worldwide for its sheesh kebab, chicken tikka, the curiously named ‘chicken leg piece’, grills and skewers.
Dabbawal’s fresh new lunch collection serves up fantastic street food classics and chaats, wraps, thalis and grills from the tandoor. Super-thin roomali wraps – thrown fresh and filled with your choice of hard-hitting seekh kebab, delicately spiced chicken, or grilled vegetables and the homemade paneer regulars travel miles for – sit alongside flatbreads, intricately constructed chaats and the street classics which have made Dabbawal’s name nationally.
Wraps, whether roomali, flatbread or dosa, are perfect on the move and a welcome treat at your desk on a busy day, while the sweet potato chaat, with its inimically balanced mix of spicy potato and sweet chutneys and yoghurt is a joy in the sunshine down on the Quayside or sitting at the foot of Grey’s Monument – proof that Indian food is so much more than the traditional English ‘curry’ and naan the size of a dustbin lid. Looking for a light lunch popping with fresh tastes and summer spice? I give you Dabbawal’s South Indian sea bass patwa, marinated in South Indian spices and pan-fried, served with a light coconut sauce, lemon rice and sweet potato chips, served up with a glass of homemade Bombay Lemonade.
This is why Dabbawal was named the UK’s Best Casual Dining Restaurant at 2015’s British Curry Awards, its food perfectly partnered by the laidback vibe of its High Bridge and Jesmond kitchens and the sun trap veranda at Jesmond.
The new express thalis on the lunch menu are a must when the sun shines, proving what everyone in Mumbai already knows – Indian street food is a fresh, light, supremely tasty lunch. Katoris are filled with hand-picked selections from dall and curries to grills, raita and salad – plus a dessert which showcases the Indian love of all things sweet. When it comes to the ‘set menu’ this is as good as it gets – a taste of Mumbai with all its spice, complexity and excitement to snack, graze, and share.
Lunch at Dabbawal packs a memorable punch, with bold flavours and delicately constructed works of art. It’s also good value, with express thalis for £10.95 and a super vegetable option for £8.50. Wraps are £6.50, while the tapas selections range from £3.95-£6.95 with three for £13 and five for £20. I’ll never eat a supermarket sandwich again.
Dabbawal, High Bridge, Newcastle NE1 6BX, tel 0191 232 5133 Dabbawal, Brentwood Mews Jesmond, NE2 3DG, tel 0191 281 3434. www.dabbawal.com