Last weekend, we travelled to South Woodford to taste some culinary flavours from the Grand Trunk Road.
The restaurant: Grand Trunk Road
South Woodford is a little out of reach for most. Yet this charming North East London suburb is becoming a foodie hangout for those who believe in life and lunch beyond zone two. Or so we discovered after visiting the Grand Trunk Road, an Indian restaurant within walking distance of the station (and the Central line).
Tucked amongst a parade of London shops and restaurants, the Grand Trunk Road is a quiet and congenial place, unlike India’s busiest road stretching from Chittagong to Kabul. Since the world wasn’t on its way to Delhi via South Woodford, this would be a culinary journey rather than the thriving street Kipling once described.
Greeted upon arrival by director Rajesh Suri, we were offered an aperitif. A whisky-based cocktail of a Sunday afternoon isn’t my usual but I was easily talked into a Masala Smash. It was punchy but softened and sweetened with cloudy apple. Who’d have thought a 10-year-old single malt with apple juice would cure a hangover? My pal went for the refreshing Punjabi Mojito, a tantalising play on a rum and ginger.
For starters we delved in with grilled scallops, which had a natural richness invigorated by tomato and garlic chutney. A kebab hailing from Uttar Pradesh was our other appetiser, chicken grilled with cream cheese and cardamon, a recipe which we couldn’t wait to recreate at home (though we doubt it would ever be as good).
Fennel and star anise aren’t everyone’s favourite flavourings, yet were keystone ingredients in Peshwari lamp chops. Teamed with some Zafrani Pulao rice, the marinated chops were divine and succulent enough not to be in need of sauce or other accompaniment.
We complemented these dishes with a truffle naan (anything coated with truffle oil is a surefire winner); however the applewood smoked cheese naan aired on the side of too experimental for us. Our sides of Bhindi masala, an okra dish with pickling spices, and the Bukhara black lentil dal dish, were both distinctly but delicately flavoured. The dal erred on the right side of creamy, filling without feeling overpowering or stodgy. Grand Trunk Road are all about perfecting flavour to the nth degree, which was evident with the finessed spice and pickle of the okra.
A mango brûlée bought our Grand Trunk Road journey to a close, back where we started in the West with consistent culinary influence from the East.
The look: A Floral Georgette Dress, Michael Kors, teamed with a Double Breasted Coat, Martin Grant (FarFetch), and Button-Buckle Velvet Mary-Jane Pumps, Prada (MatchesFashion). Accessorise with Eclipse, Magnetic Color Shadow Duo, GUCCI, a Cat Face Knit Scarf, Karl Lagerfield (Luisaviaroma), Sterling Silver Wonderland Teardrop Earrings, Ippolita (Neiman Marcus), and a glitzy Ellipse Clutch Bag, Jimmy Choo (FarFetch).