BY PALOMA LACY
Put your hands up if you know where Guyana is? I don’t see many hands.
Precluding a love of cricket or family connections, many would struggle to stick a pin in a map and find it. Yes, it is located on South America’s north-east coast, but it’s solidly Caribbean in culture.
Geography lesson over and now over to history.
As with much of the Caribbean, Guyanese cuisine is a beautiful hybrid of the very many cultures that have made it home over the centuries, combining influences from Africa, India, Portugal and China among others.
Two little lessons that will help your introduction to Nanny Outars Roti House, one of the very few Guyanese restaurants in London that’s quickly made its mark since opening when BoxPark landed just over two years ago.
Most will recognise roti as that most marvellously versatile of flatbreads, brought to the Caribbean by indentured labour from South Asia.
Use it to mop up curry or fill it for a hearty snack that’s way more exciting than a sandwich.
I popped along for my third visit to Nanny Outars, taking a friend new to Guyanese cuisine, and safe to say she was blown away by the depth and variety of flavour.
Paratha roti lies at the heart of many of Nanny Outars’ dishes, and each one is cooked from scratch, to order, in front of us.
I went for the Guyanese Roti Wrap and Rice Box – curried chicken, rice, roti and slaw for £7, bravely adding the hottest chilli sauce – usually scorching hot wiri, when it comes to Guyanese cuisine.
This is curry Caribbean style, fragrant, spicy, piquant at points, resting in a thin gravy, making it entirely different from the Bengali curry house curries we’re used to.
Juicy curry, tempered by rice, with home-made coleslaw providing a cooling backdrop, all bound together in the tastiest roti.
Undoubtedly, a complete meal that’s pretty hard to beat.
My friend took the veggie route, with roasted squash, green mango pickle and toasted seeds (£6.50), and she was surprised by the flavour punch it packed, commenting that she didn’t feel shortchanged, as some vegetarian dishes can leave you feeling.
Again this came with the above accompaniments, but for those with the appetite, sides including creole fries, mini beef patties, channa pot (chickpeas), slaw and pholourie at £3.50 each/ 3 for £10/ 5 for £15.
I was disappointed to learn that dahl puri – roti stuffed with yellow lentils, aren’t served at lunchtime, and not sure why.
For me, it’s synonymous with the cuisine but I guess provides another reason for am afternoon or evening visit.
Paloma was not a guest of Nanny Outars. Unit 40 Boxpark Croydon, 99 George Street, Croydon CR0 1LD. Open seven days a week from noon to 9pm on Sunday and Monday, 10pm Tuesday to Thursday and until 11pm on Saturday and Sunday.