I may be the biggest fan of South Indian food London has – it’s a habit I picked up from my favourite eatery as a student and I am so happy to be able to share somewhere in London you can go to enjoy the way I always have. Zumbura is an exceptionally pretty open cafe and restaurant off Clapham Common that has a lot going for it…
It boasts a street patio you’re not going to get harassed for room on, and an open front that lets the air and sunshine in on the summer days. It’s not easy to find but it is only a short walk from a tube station and a lot of bus stops. It’s also on top of Clapham Common and the little paddling pool, making it a wonderful area to spend the day. If you do end up inside the ceiling is a beautiful mural of coloured birds and the bar is a pleasant place to sit and chat.
The staff are pretty friendly and you do have to be a bit forceful as they can get busy and don’t want to neglect a group of customers in favour of another group. They really do know what they are cooking and mixing so always tell them what you like and have them make a suggestion.
The bar is well-stocked with all the usual suspects in the wine cellar and some competently mixed cocktails – start with the molly moo moo or fruity wallah but be prepared to make your way through the entire menu. There’s not a recipe on the drinks list I would tell you to avoid – obviously go with your personal tastes on what you consume!
Now, you may notice that photos go from lots of food to lots of empty plates quite quickly. That’s because they brought the food within minutes of our order and we literally could not put a dish down. Eat the garnish and the sides. Try the pakora – it’s divine. Everything is light and healthy and just the right side of spicy. The bread is unique and gorgeous. The fish is especially well seasoned, as throwing spices on white fish is difficult when you still want it to taste of fish…
By this point we were quite full but did not regret ordering a handful of dishes at all. In all there were five dishes, two small, and bread that we’d polished off. That works out just enough to fill up two very hungry Indian food lovers with room for dessert.
And dessert is the best part. Because you don’t find many Asian desserts and a lot of them are savoury and disappointing in many ways. But Zumbura not only has a small and perfectly honed dessert selection, it has after dinner cocktails to go with it.
We were sceptical at the creamed carrot with pistachio ice cream recommendation – now I’m going to tell you to try it. As someone who cannot even stand carrot cake I was shocked at how good it was. The chilled rice and rose kulfi (sorbet lolly) was also delicious but in a very different league. And we honestly could have picked any dessert cocktail and been happy but the spice islands is the most impressive.
It’s a ‘pudding in a glass’ and contains vanilla, ginger, rum, cardamom, star anise, cinnamon, apple juice, cloves and coconut cream. If that sounds like a lot then fair enough but it works very well. And reminds me a little of Christmas but it the best way. If that really doesn’t sounds right (it is, though) then you’ve got a couple of extra options and a dessert wine. Or just finish with an Irish coffee.