Places To Eat In London: Booma, Brixton
Concerned as I usually am with the hottest Central London eateries and everything new and exciting that arrives in my little corner of Kent, there is one category of really great restaurant I think I’ve been overlooking these past few years: the neighbourhood restaurant. This really hit home to me yesterday when I was taken for lunch at Booma, a fantastic little Northern Indian joint smack bang between Stockwell and Brixton. One of those places that is not conveniently located near a tube for visitors, but is perfect for everyone living in the vicinity.
The menu at Booma is small and mighty – lovely for an Indian where there is usually too much choice, and a lot of the menu is paired with the equally small and carefully curated craft beer and cider menu, with food and drink pairings marked on the menu. We had 2/3 pints of their smooth, light and drinkable house lager with a pile of their poppadoms, finished with mango and tamarind chutneys – I loved this presentation with the poppodums in little, nacho-like bites, so much easier than dealing with little dishes of things that have to be passed around the table which never seem to end up near you, always laden with with messy spoons dripping on the table cloth.
Our Bhindi Jaipuri – crispy fried okra with gram flour and mango powder – arrived first which were tasty to snack on but not really what I’d call a side, and the Achari Paneer Tikka, which while I can’t actually eat a whole serving (intolerances), the bite I had daubed in both of the chutneys it came with made it stand out as a menu must-order, managing to be firm, toothsome and flavourful, and still rich, creamy and very more-ish at the same time.
My hero dish was the Pudhina lamb chops; double cut and smothered in spices before being served perfectly crusty on the outside and insanely tender and still slightly bloody on the inside, paired with a vibrant and punchy mint chutney which they happily bought another bowl full of for me once I’d mopped up every last drop.
I did not get a chance to try the Duck Kathi Roll – roast duck and plum chutney in a naan wrap – but it looked fantastic, and perfect if you’re just stopping by Booma for something light around midday, rather than the lazy Sunday lunch affair we were enjoying. However, I did have the Radga Patties all to myself – potato cakes topped with chaat, kachucumber and natural yogurt, and while the potatoes were not 100% to my liking, they were the understudy to their fantastic chickpea salad crown which I really, really loved. It’s a great dish for sharing.
The dish I was most excited to try was the Dal Makhani, served with a buttered naan – we also got an extra garlic one as we were sharing, but controversially I thought the plain buttered one was better. This dal was excellent; rich, earthy and creamy, not quite soup and not quite stew, it had a really, beautifully deep flavour to it like those subtle notes in demerara sugar, but without any of sugars overwhelming sweetness. Comforting but still complex, but also deeply satisfying; a real cure for the bitingly cold day. I’m a creature of habit, usually ordering this dal with every Indian meal, and while it sounds a cliche, it is true to say that this is one of the dals that sticks in my mind for comparison every time we reach for a new, rather than tried and tested takeaway menu.
A lovely little touch that came with our bill were these homemade after dinner mints, simply chilled fresh mint leaves generously dipped in crisp white chocolate – a lovely little idea I’ll be trying out myself at home the next time I’m entertaining. They were also perfect in place of dessert, because is not the whole point of going out for an Indian the opportunity to massively over order, the knock on effect being there is never any room for dessert?