I like West Indian food...but then, I like Indian food too... Which is better? There was only one way to find out, and that was by visiting the Glad Cafe last weekend.
The venue hosted the Southside Street Food Showdown, with West Indies pop-up Fire in Babylon and Indian street food purveyor Babu Bombay Street Kitchen going head-to-head for four courses.
Babu stepped up to the plate for starters, serving up sev puri alongside Bollywood visuals and reggae soundtrack.
A lengthy description of this Bombay street snack doesn’t do it justice; wheat puris with boiled totties, chaat masala, red onion, no less than three chutneys, crispy lentil vermicelli and fresh coriander and lime.
An explosion of flavours and textures — sweet, spicy, earthy, zesty, crispy, soft — it was unlike anything I’ve tried before. I hope Babu serves this at the city centre eatery, as I’m paying a visit soon.
With two mains (out of a choice of four) per person, I opted for one from either side; Babu’s butter chicken with star anise rice and pickled red onion and Babylon’s signature curry goat with coconut rice.
The goat won my vote, and I wolfed it down remembering a certain scene from Jurassic Park (one bite and you’ll find yourself siding with the T-rex) but the chicken was also excellent; tender, moist and spicy enough to distance itself far from the usual takeaway gloop.
The other half opted for goat too, along with Babu’s vada pau; a spicy potato burger with green chilli and coriander chutney and tamarind sauce — a shining example of vegetarian food done right.
The meal was rounded off by Babylon’s Jamaican ginger cake; a moist sponge soaked in rum glaze and served up with a mini cup of Babu’s chai tea. It was a cake Mary Berry would be proud of (if you could drag her away from the DJ booth and those sunny reggae beats).
Fire in Babylon won that round of the cook-off, making it three each across the weekend — but if these dishes were anything to go by, both are equally deserving of the foodie crown.