Oh, this is a very old draft. But I might put it up just in case someone reading happens to be in Whitechapel. Here goes…..
PS I would include a picture but this food really isn’t that photogenic.
I was patiently queuing at New Tayyabs, home of the best tandoori lamb chops (or ‘lamp shops’ as my German friend Caro calls them) in East London. I’m not the only person to love these chops. As was apparent from the queue, snaking past the toilets and the vibrantly syrupy takeaway sweet stand and between tables of people who had ominously brought along bottles of Jack Daniels, clearly settling in for the long haul (and right in the shadow of the East London Mosque – is this not disrespectful?)
I don’t mind a queue. I’d exchanged a raised eyebrow with the woman in front of me and was quite enjoying the Friday night buzz and the anticipation of a hard-won table. Until the German in my life arrived. He immediately declared the queue ‘ridiculous’, and refused to stand in it. I argued that we should wait for our friends to arrive and then decide. There was bound to be a mass table-turning soon.
As it happened, five minutes later a table near us was vacated. Someone, far ahead at the start of the queue, was in luck. ‘I’ll just sit down for a moment,’ said my companion. He plonked himself on the table as it was cleared, ‘resting his legs’ was I believe the phrase he used.
New cutlery was laid. A trio of yogurts and chutneys appeared. And then a plate of poppodoms.
I averted my gaze. This was a two-hour queue he had jumped. Nibbling cautiously, and then confidently on a poppodum, he made it clear to me he did not care. ‘Come and sit down,’ he said.
I’d made friends in this queue. How could I just sit down? He was getting annoyed now. Finally I decided to walk outside, remove my glasses, put my hair down and join him as a new person. In any case, with my glasses off I couldn’t see anyone in the queue anymore, so the feeling of mortification was diluted.
Then came the food. Smooth chilled mango lassi. Spicy tender lamb chops. Lemony fish curry, earthy spinach paneer, meltingly sweet lamb curry and soft, garlicky naan bread. As I left the woman who had been in front of me was still patiently queuing. I did feel bad.
But also extremely well fed.
Tayyabs, 83-89, Fieldgate St. London E1 1JU
Tel: 020 7247 6400 , 020 7247 9543 , 020 7247 8521 (yes, three numbers. Very popular).