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Photograph: Time Out
Photograph: Time Out

Chefs reveal the recipes for iconic London dishes

From Dishoom’s masala chai to Berber & Q’s cauliflower shawarma, here’s how you make restaurant favourites at home

Written by
Kate Lloyd
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If there’s one good thing lots of Londoners will take away from lockdown, it’s a new-found or revived love of cooking. We’ve heard from Time Out readers who’ve been creating incredible dishes over the past few months. Meanwhile, London’s restaurants have been busy making at-home kits containing all the ingredients (and knowledge) you need to create their dishes.

Want to take your cooking to the next level, though? Of course you do – and you are in the right place. Look no further than this round-up of iconic recipes, shared with Time Out by top London restaurants. Think: Padella, Gloria, Dishoom and Bao. They’ll have you cooking up some of London’s favourite dishes in no time.

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  • Eating

Saiphin Moore, founder of Rosa’s Thai Cafe, first cooked a massaman curry for a dinner party when she was living in Hong Kong. ‘Because I was from the north of Thailand,’ she says, ‘I didn’t grow up with this dish as it’s more popular in the south. Over the years, I've perfected the recipe and I have been using it ever since.’ Now the dish is one of the most popular on the menu at the East End restaurant.

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This exceptionally cosy drink is spicy, sweet and the kind of thing you’d find at a Bombay street stall. It’s available to order at the table at the London restaurant chain but it’s also what they hand out to the snaking queues of people who wait outside for tables. Want to create the authentic Dishoom drinking experience at home? Why not sip this standing outside your kitchen door while your dinner is cooking?  

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Thank God for Bao! The Taiwanese street-food stall turned cult London mini chain is known for its perfect, fluffy steamed buns – and these braised pork versions are possibly the most perfect of them all. Bao is now doing delivery, but you can’t order the buns to your home (it’s offering tasty rice boxes with prawn, grilled beef, tofu and chilli chicken leg instead). So if you’ve got bun cravings, there’s only one thing for it right now... learn how to make them. 

Sick of everyone else’s lockdown pasta looking better than yours? It’s time to step away from the easy gnocchi recipe you found on BBC Good Food and delete all your Bon Appétit tabs. The main player of the pasta game has unleashed a recipe for a beige meal so flavourful it’s been a Time Out hype dish. Yes, Padella has revealed the secret to its iconic pici cacio e pepe. 

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Not done your weekly shop yet? You’re going to want to update it. Berber & Q has revealed how to make its delicious cauliflower shawarma at home – and doing it is going to make your weekend 1,000 percent better (approximately). This cauli-feast is a smoky, flavour-packed vegetarian dinner, with a vibrant garnish, that is especially perfect for anyone getting their barbecue out. 

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Creamy, slow-cooked scrambled eggs in a warm brioche bun? Sounds dreamy right now, huh? Thankfully, Eggslut’s revealed the recipe for its famous Fairfax sarnie. At the restaurant’s London outpost you’d find it made in a Bread Ahead brioche bun. Head chef Bruno Pires says it’s definitely worth sourcing brioche to smoosh the scramble between as the sweetness balances the salty eggs, but he adds: ‘If you don’t have this available, just make sure that whatever bun you use is warmed before placing your eggs in it.’

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Mandy Yin, the owner of legendary Malaysian joint Sambal Shiok Laksa Bar on Holloway Road says that her king prawn nyonya curry laksa is a perfect lockdown weekend cooking project. ‘We tend to save cooking laksa for special occasions due to its time-consuming method and lengthy ingredient list, especially if cooking the chicken stock from scratch,’ she says. ‘The vast majority of the preparation can be done a day or two in advance, for example cooking the chicken stock, blitzing and cooking the spice paste, prawns, eggs, blanching beansprouts and green beans.’ 

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The big ol’ lemon pie that Gloria serves up on the daily has quickly become one of London’s most iconic desserts. It’s quite obvious why: a huge slab of italian meringue sat on zesty lemon custard and a crisp pastry base? Hell, yes. Who doesn’t want that? Luckily, the Gloria team has kindly unleashed the recipe for the pie. And while it’s definitely not a quick or simple bake, it’s quite clearly worth the work. 

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Xi’an Impression in Highbury, and its sister Xi’an BiangBiang Noodles in Whitechapel, are known for rich combinations of spices and soft, fresh noodles, all inspired by the food from Xi’an province in China. (At the spin-off branch you can even watch the team hand-pull noodles in the open kitchen.) Want to have a go at making the restaurants’ most iconic dish at home? Yeah, you do. 

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Sometimes the only thing that will cure lockdown blues is a big ol’ yorkshire pud and a hell of a lot of gravy. Peckham restaurant Coal Rooms is known for its giant plate-filling ones. As we head into the last few weeks it’ll be acceptably cool enough to eat a roast, before the summer, we asked the team how to make big puds of our own. 

  • Restaurants
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Mei Mei is known for its Singaporean comfort food. (In fact, the Borough restaurant has just brought out a range of Singapore curry powder and meat rendang powder.) If you want something that tastes comforting but looks fancy as hell, look no further than its deep-fried chicken and caviar sando – and we’ve bagged the recipe so you can make it at home.  

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