The trends of restaurants in London go through peaks and troughs, often related to the streams of migration that bring ever-changing cultures and traditions to the city. Indian cuisine came over 200 years ago, and now the curry house is a staple of the High Street; Chinese food came not long after and now takeaways spread from Chinatown and outwards. The thousands that came from East Africa and made London their home have brought their recipe books with them, and the latest food trend sweeping the capital is for East African cuisine: if you take the overground to Streatham, wander up Streatham High Road and turn onto Gleneagle Road you can taste the very best of it for yourself at Al Jazeera.
East African cuisine is a broad church, but one that nevertheless remains relatively unknown outside of the continent. Certainly, East African restaurants in London are somewhat thin on the ground, but if you managed to find one – such as Al Jazeera on Gleneagle Road in Streatham – then you’re in for a treat. Injera is a major ingredient, the wheat or sorghum flatbread that has a slightly spongy texture and provides the backdrop to many dishes, as well as liberal use of peanut sauce and berber-style spices.
The diversity of dishes is astounding, and you can taste plenty of it at Al Jazeera. From Ethiopia come stews packed with spice and usually eaten using rolled up strips of injera; from Sudan one can try aseeda porridge, fish dishes and ful medames, the national dish, which features fava beans, cumin and hard boiled eggs. Somali restaurants in London are well known, and they include Italian influences, a legacy of colonialism, with pasta and polenta ingredients allied to traditional stews and meats. Get the overground out to Streatham station and stroll onto Streatham High Road, then Gleneagle Road, to enjoy the best in East African cooking at Al Jazeera.