Curry restaurants are usually great heavens for vegetarians and Brick Lane in London’s East end is riddled with them. But, for those in the know, it’s best to venture south from Brick Lane and tucked away behind the Whitechapel Hospital is Tayyabs, a family run restaurant specialising the finest Punjabi cuisine. Tayyabs offers more traditional, more authentic dishes that many of the restaurants on Brick Lane have on offer. And unlike most of the vegetarian offerings you get on brick lane, a vegetarian curry from Tayyabs is not filled with huge chunks of curried potatoes.
It is always busy, even on a snowy Monday evening (as I once discovered) so you should always expect to queue. However, you can book (but you will still need to queue for a bit). But it has a bring your own policy so at least you can have a beer while you wait.
It can feel like a bit of an hurried affair, so make sure you take your time when eating otherwise your table will be turned over for the next cover in no time at all.
I had paneer tikka to start, followed by Baigan Bhartha which consisted of slowly cooked lentil curried stew with roasted whole baby aubergines. This was a rich and very wholesome dish with wonderfully balanced spices. I would recommend having the paratha bread rather than naan, as paratha bread is much more flavoursome. They also have counter filled with Indian and Pakistani sweets for pudding. The staff will help you choose a selection depending on what you prefer.
I have previously also had the Karahi Tarka Dhal which is originally from North India, and spiced with turmeric, garlic and green chillies. This is also a lentil dish but with purer, fresher flavours. I had a hard task keeping my meat-eating friends away from stealing it!
Tayyabs was founded as a cafe in 1972 and has slowly grown into the large bustling restaurant it is today. It is famous for its meat dishes, dry meats and sizzling grills, but its vegetarian offerings should not be overlooked. They each taste very unique and are well-crafted traditional failsafe dishes.
If you arrive at Tayyabs and the snaking queue is too long for you to cope with, I recommend popping around the corner to Needoo Grill which is just as good, and just as addictive.
Both restaurants are very reasonably priced and the fact they are both BYO establishments helps drive the cost of eating out even further. Both are also well worth the wait. Trust me.
83-89 Fieldgate St
020 7247 9543
87 New Rd
020 7247 0648