Even blogging about making curry was enough to make me hungry for Tayyabs, the Punjabi curry house in Whitechapel. So, with a friend down from Glasgow last weekend, we duly paid a visit.
Tayyabs is known for its sizzling slabs of spicy meat, its bargainous prices, its loud and buzzy atosphere and the fact that you are likely to have to queue for about an hour on a weekend evening for a table. We arrived at 7.30pm on a Sunday and were amazed to find the queue was only half its Friday/Saturday length - with only 30 minutes before we were sat at a table. The queue still snakes around the tables and you can watch the diners faces light up with ecstasy as spitting plates of meat and other chargrilled goodies waft past. Tables of students, families, older couples, city workers and multiple generations of Pakistani families are all united by the democratic pricing and prospect of amazing food.
We started with lamb chops and grilled paneer. The lamb chops were sizzling, spitting and giving off the most amazing smell. The meat was crispy and hot on the outside and beautifully tender inside. They brought out the animal in me as I picked them up and gnawed at them to get every last bit of meat off the bone. The paneer was for our vegetarian co-diner, but us meat-feasters shared a cube of it, which was also delicious.
The main courses followed in quick succession. Despite Tayyabs being a palace of meat, I opted to have the baby squash dish, Tinder Masala. The pieces of squash are tender and juicy and the sauce is powerfully spicy, fruity and rich and topped with delicious caremalised onions. Others had Lahori Chickar Chana, a chick pea curry, and Karahi Chicken. I obviously wangled myself a generous taster of each - all were amazing.
Almost the best bit, though, is the naan breads. We each had peshwari naan (rice, however well cooked, is a mere vessel) and boy are they something else. You can smell the butter on them from the other side of the restaurant and they are so soft, spongy, fruity. Wow. I could eat them for every meal, for every day of the rest of my life (which may be significantly shortened by their butter quotient!).
We ate until we could eat no more, and then some. And exited very happy into the warm sunset bathed streets of Whitechapel to take the newly opened East London Line back to Dalston. I have such a long list of restaurants that I want to try, which makes it hard to justify visits to the same places over and over again. But when the food and experience is as fantastic at Tayyabs, I'm prepared to make an exception.
Tayyabs is at:
83-89 Fieldgate Street
Nearest tube is Aldgate East or Whitechapel.