TURKISH FOOD CENTRE-DALSTON
A jewel is hidden deep in the heart of Hackney. Step off the train at Dalston/Kingsland, trod straight through the murky depths of the Ridley Road market and walk to the far end. If the giant snails and eyeballed goats heads (this is a heavy-duty West African market, not the inspirational sort) haven’t grossed you out completely at this point, then cross the road. Right smack in front of you is the Turkish Food Centre (TFC).
Bursting with produce, dried fruits, spices, and fresh-baked bread; TFS is sparkling clean and has the most pristine meat imaginable. One aisle is dedicated solely to bulgur wheat with golden bags stacked high, ranging from extra-extra fine to fat pearl-like pieces. My visit began as a quest for two obscure ingredients to make kisir (a bulgur wheat salad similar to tabbouli, only better). Pepper paste (biber salcasi) and Turkish chili powder (pul biber) are difficult to source and most Middle Eastern stores don’t carry them. After reading about them in Moro cookbooks and Greg and Lucy Malouf’s Turkish travel/cookery book, Turquoise, I was keen to track them down.
Most London Turkish food shops are situated in Green Lanes in the far Northeast corner of the city. Although it sounds intriguing, Hackney is an easier and closer option. I found everything I wanted and much much more (I did resist the amazing metal kebab skewers). Lacking any restraint, I piled Persian cucumbers, long sweet green peppers, pomegranate syrup and spices into my basket, handed over a £20 note and waddled to the train with my bulging bags. Although you can buy these on-line from http://www.turkishsupermarket.co.uk, its more inspiring to walk around this mecca of Turkish cuisine.
Another carrot to lure you over is lunch at Mangal Ocakbasi on 10 Arcola street, about 10 minutes from the market. Considered the best Turkish food in London, its famous charcoal grilled kebabs, garlicky cacik and heaping plates of lemony salad will complete the experience.
There is no doubt this has been the coldest, bleakest winter in London. Perhaps not statistically but it sure feels like it. A couple of weeks ago I decided to break my families cabin fever and have a day out. Borough Market has been a firm weekend favorite, but the ever-increasing packs of tourists have worn down my enthusiasm. After hearing much praise about the Broadway market, we decided to trek out, and it truly glorious.
Sandwiched between the canal and London Fields, this Hackney market is open every Saturday. Trendy East end families and young fashionistas stroll about, giving it a cosmopolitan feel. There is a bit of the old and the new; an eel and pie shop on one side of the street and a slick arty book shop on the other. Seasonal produce, meat, fish, and flowers are awash, so bring your shopping bag. The quality of the food stalls is amazing and even better with most under a fiver; Banh mi (Vietnamese pork baguette), Portuguese hog roast, Gujarati vegetarian, Arabica Lebanese, and grilled burgers are just a few. I tried the Banh mi sandwich and the Gujarati Bhel Puri (potatoes with tamarind, yogurt and crispy chickpea noodles) and both were scrummy. Sweet-tooths won’t be disappointed with home-made fudge, cupcakes, tarts and a charming penny sweets shop. Turkish shops edge the market just before you get to London Fields, so pick up some Persian cucumbers and chili powder. Top off the day with a pint at one of the lovely old pubs- they are disappearing fast.
For a closer view of the pics, click here:
The Broadway market’s website is crap, so here is a map showing the area. It’s situated on a street with the same name, just off Goldsmiths road. London Fields is the closest train station.