I was thrilled to hear London’s best streetfood specialists, KERB, would be returning to the Alchemy festival on Southbank across the early May bank holiday weekend. Immediately I rounded up some foodie friends for a pre-bank holiday feast and boy, we were not disappointed!
The Alchemy Festival celebrates South Asian art and culture, featuring programmes of dance, music, literature and comedy. The special focus for 2018, it’s 9th year, is homegrown talent & I’d love to attend some of these events next year.
Throughout the extended weekend 29 traders cooked up a wonderful array of Indian, Pakistani, Nepalese, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan dishes to excite your tastebuds! To accompany this there is a KERB bar serving up Kingfisher lagers, hoppy IPA’s, cocktails, iced teas and of course masala chai. DJ Shaiguy provides the soundtrack & a chance to dance off some of the delicious food! You won’t be able to resist over eating with so many great options available!
An abundance of food is created by 18 ‘KERBanists’ who regular appear at KERB markets across London and several guest traders. Every year they also add some new discoveries; this year they included Black Mylk serving a vegan ice cream dosa; Jaffrey, Nemi Tea and The English Indian who brought Birmingham pakora battered fish & chips to the table.
Upon arrival our first stop was bizarrely Vicky’s Donuts – I know you shouldn’t spoil you’re dinner with sweets first… however previously I had been disappointed at not managing to buy one before they sell out. I wasn’t risking that this time! The 4 variations were available as either full size of mini size and knowing how many other stands I wanted to try I chose to try 2 mini doughnuts (about £3 each). Chai salted caramel glaze with speculoos and a White chocolate cream, ginger syrup and gingerbread crumb. Delicious!
Once that initial sugar craving was satisfied we decided to try out a selection of savoury dishes. Many of the options are pretty shareable, which worked well as all of us wanted to try as many dishes are possible; I’d recommend coming in a small group so you can do this, or come very very hungry!
A new debutante at the festival was Fundi who make wood-fired pizzas from scratch and in honour of the event were making Peshwari pizza garlic naans. We opted for a half & half of garlic and spicy mutton pizza. These are quickly made to order by the team and the dough was perfectly cooked with the right amount of cheese and toppings to make this a hit!
Wanting to check out what other options we had I set out on an exploration to find our next treats, ideally without having to queue for ages. Timing is everything at food festivals!
One of my favourite Indian Street Food stands in London is Horn OK Please, who have a selection of vegetarian Indian staples that can also be made vegan on request. They are regularly at the Southbank centre and Borough food market. We opted for a vegan Moong daal dosa, which is a savoury lentil pancake filled with spicy potatoes and a channa (chickpea) chaat and a Samosa Chaat as well.
Branching out from my typical selection I couldn’t resist trying some tacos from Prairie Fire BBQ after seeing people walk past with these pretty as a picture flavour bombs! I opted for 3 flavours, Chana Masala, Applewood smoked Chicken Tikka Masala and 16 hour smoked tandoori beef brisket. (£7.50 for 3) All of these were delicious, although messy!
Unable to turn up trying something new I was intrigued by the idea of pakora battered fish and chips, plus chip shop curry sauce is a naughty pleasure! The batter was lovely and light with a nice subtle flavour, alongside the best mushy peas I’ve had! We also tried their halloumi option, which was coated in a wonderful chilli sauce.
Finally we couldn’t leave without a final stand to satisfy my sweet tooth! Blutop ice cream was the perfect finale! The masala chai and mango lassi flavours were beautifully refreshing and flavourful!
KERB does Alchemy remains one of the early food festival season highlights for me and I can’t wait to return next year to discover new street food options with more friends!
Cost: Free entry! Dishes vary in cost, roughly from £3 – £12 a dish, depending on size and stand. Most places prefer credit card, but I’d always bring some cash with you to any festival.
Runs Early May Bank Holiday – check for dates here: https://www.kerbfood.com
Nearest Train/Tube: Waterloo
Date: May 2018