IT’S your lunch break and you’ve only got an hour. The temptation to grab a supermarket wrap and eat it al desko is too great. Your mind tells you: “Eat it and get through the rest of the day. There’s no time to go out anyway.”
Step up, Indian Tiffin Room. The Greek Street newcomer has got you covered with a range of light bites and meals that can be whipped up in a flash, so you don’t get shouted at by your boss. With ITR, it’s all about street food from southern India and they have some fantastic choices that are (literally) bursting with flavour. The majority of the offerings on the menu are vegetarian, but there are a few meat choices for the carnivorous among you. Here are a few of the best…
Starter: Dahi Puri (£3.95)
These are a lot of fun to eat and a great quick veggie snack while you’re waiting for your main. They come as bitesize explosions of flavour, with the puff-pastry shell exploding as you bite into it and giving way to soft potato and a light spice kick that’s tempered with yoghurt coating. It’s well balanced and refreshing, setting you up for another dip into the menu.
Mains: ITR Mysore Masala Dosa (£5.75)
An ITR special, this tiffin dish is likely to get an involuntary “wow” if it’s your first time. The light and crispy rice and lentil crepe is enormous, and it holds a delightful secret: soft spiced potato like you find in a vada pav. The accompaniment is a warming sambar lentil stew – perfect for a winter day. You also get a coconut dip, which is a great way to temper any spice and cleanse your palate between bites if you’re dipping into other dishes at the same time. At the price, it’s an absolute steal.
Thali (£8.50 vegetarian / £9.50 non-vegetarian)
The thali is a great way to enjoy a whole varied lunch on a single plate, with a selection of several small bowls all freshly prepared that morning. These change every day and include the likes of crunchy stir-fried cabbage, a mild but deeply flavoured southern Indian kadai chicken, black-eyed bean stew and a delicate, herbal lentil fritter. You also get a bowl of rice, raita and a pleasing handful of light, puffy bread for dipping purposes.
Dessert: Gulab Jamun (£3.75)
If you want to finish off with a sugar boost to get you through the afternoon, ITR has a few to choose from, including a homemade kulfi, but it’s the gulab jamun that keeps us coming back. Soft, light milk dumplings sit delicately in a delightfully sweet sugar syrup with just a hint of rose. They’re dreamy, and perfect for helping you negotiate the five-minute walk back to the office.
It’s worth mentioning that there’s also an impressive drinks menu, in case you’re able to steal a swift Friday tipple. The Grover Cabernet Shiraz (£6 a glass) is an Indian wine that has come from the warm, humid climes of the south. It not only stands up to spice; it complements it beautifully, extending aftertastes and giving off rich fruit notes at the same time. There are also some very exciting cocktails that stand out from the crowd for their Indian flavours – coriander, basil, mango, cardamom, cinnamon – you’d be hard-pushed to get these flavours anywhere else.
As well as an excellent amount of choice, ITR’s lunch offerings don’t sit heavily on the stomach like an evening curry can, so you can easily enjoy a brilliant meal and get back to work without fear of food coma.
What’s more, the already great thalis are about to get a serious upgrade in the run-up to Christmas, with evening favourites such as chilli paneer being added to the lunch options along with a larger range of curries, for £12.50 (£13.50 non-vegetarian). There’s also a Christmas dinner menu from 29 October, with three full courses plus an amuse bouche for £23.95. With bookings up to Christmas being taken now, book early to avoid disappointment.