Everyone who lives in Peckham knows Ganapati. It is the place to go for comforting home-cooked curries and fragrant thalis. This characterful little local Indian restaurant, recently celebrated its 10th birthday. It is found on Holly Grove, close to the popular Bellenden Road. Inside the decor is simple with basic wooden tables and chairs, the focus here is on the food. In summer, guests can enjoy the small terrace outside.
Ganapati is run by Claire Fisher, who came back from Southern India inspired by the evocative scents and flavours of the canteens and street food stalls. Her restaurant is now known across London for serving up some of the best South Indian food on offer in the UK. I was a novice of the cuisine when I visited, and was surprised by the similarities to Thai cooking: the curries are most often coconut-based and use a great deal of fresh herbs to create the often floral taste.
As you can see from the photo above, I was too busy devouring my food to take many snaps. We enjoyed a selection of dishes from the innovative menu. Poppadoms and pickles are much more than you would expect, vibrant homemade chutneys and deliciously punchy sauces, a far cry from the supermarket condiments I am used to. Vegetarian street snacks is a plate of delectable treats, the spicy mouthfuls feel indulgent even though they are not at all oily. Kottoor Quail is a must, wonderfully aromatic meat marinated in Kashmiri chilli and Indian shallots and quickly pan-fried to give an irresistibly crispy edge.
It was a challenge to pick from the list of intriguing curries, which include unusual ingredients like beetroot and fennel. We chose to share the Cashewandi Kozhi curry, a mild dish with free-range chicken cooked in cashew nut and coconut masala with a touch of green chilli and tomato. It was blissfully light and full of zesty flavour, big chunks of juicy tomato added a summery freshness. We ordered one of the highly regarded Kerala paratha, a perfectly flaky flatbread cooked on the griddle, and a portion of coconut rice to soak up the sauce.
I can’t comment on dessert as we didn’t try one but they looked equally inventive and exciting with ingredients such as saffron, cardamon and pistachio. And now for the best news? Ganapati offer takeaway and delivery, so you can enjoy the spectacular flavours without even moving from the sofa.
More information here: www.ganapatirestaurant.com