Book through Edible Experiences – http://www.edibleexperiences.com/p/216882085/Papis-Pickles/240001/South-Indian-Sundays-Brixton-Cornercopia
Breakfast 10.30 to 12.30
Brunch 12.30 to 3.30
In residence from 14th September to 2nd November
Papi’s Pickles have now joined a long line of guest chefs at Cornercopia. Appearing on Sundays Papi’s pickles offers a South Indian Sunday breakfast and brunch at reasonable times for the earlier risers and the laggards. The food is said to come from the Navaratri Festival, which means 9 nights in Sanskrit – Navaratri represents a celebration of the Goddess Amba and at this time of the year is referred to as Sharad Navaratri which is the most important festival. The reason for mentioning this is not only because the menu does but also because it comes with lots of dishes with different coloured peas and beans (black-eyed, mung chick, green moong, soya etc) which are integral to this celebration. All the food is vegetarian and gluten free or lactose free or both. There is a very limited set menu for both breakfast and lunch which offers either a coconut masal dosa with the spicy potato filling or two plain dosas. We chose one of each and shared but we advise you to have the filled ones unless you really do not like potatoes.
Each dish comes like a thali on a steel tray with little pots of sauces and pickles. One of the interests is working out which sauces are which from the menu, which is not always easy, even for the waitress. On the right is the one with the potato filling but, unless you dig in it’s difficult to tell. The dosas are the large pancakes made from coconut, rice batter and black lentil flour. You may have had the paper thin ones but these are more substantial, thicker and whichever one you choose they come covered in a sambal sauce made of spicy lentils and onion. Then comes the yoghourt, chilli and tomatoes relish, some homemade chilli which is a little pile on the plate and tastes nutty as well as a little hot. There are other sauces and salads – not remotely like the ones that accompany a takeaway that usually remain in the little plastic bag. These salads were small and delicately flavoured. Both our choices are accompanied by two idlis which are also from the South of India and we tried a lot of them in Kerala. They are made from fermented black lentils and are usually little soft cushions served with a variety of sauces. They are also definitely something to eat in a restaurant as they are ferociously difficult to make, mainly because you need to think at least a day ahead to get enough time for the fermentation process. The ones served by Papi’s Pickles are somewhat flatter and heavier than our memory of the Indian ones but with that hint of fermentation that is suggested to increase its digestibility – who knows but they certainly brought back memories of the heat and the waterways of Kerala.
Heat is what we wanted to discuss next – this is a delicately spiced meal and not one where you need to bring paper tissues with you. Each of the dishes brings its own set of flavours which are often difficult to balance. That all makes it a great meal for Sunday lunch as it is only on a Friday that some of us can cope with a large dose of chili.
Service was slow, so we ordered something to drink. Most drinks are those on the standard Cornercopia list but we ordered two of Papi’s Pickles special sweet rose flavoured lassies. These were £2 each in really small cups but having tasted it we thought the size wasn’t a problem as they were very sweet. However, they were probably best taken at the end, rather than the beginning of the meal. At times of high demand they might just put out some nuts to keep you going. The whole meal was £23.00 (breakfast is a mere £7.50 a person without drinks)
If you want a large family sized paper dhosa with sambal then we recommend a visit to the branch of Chennai Dosa in West Croydon – see here for more details – which has the cheapest and tastiest meal in South London. But if you want somewhere a little easier to reach to have a relaxed lunch, then this is the place to go for some delicate flavours. But you might want to order a beer to while you wait. We booked in advance through Edible Experiences but on the day we went there was space, at least at the 12:30 sitting.