If you ask South East Londoners where the best place to get curry is, they’ll usually always tell you Ganapati on Holly Grove. One of the few restaurants in Peckham that’s been going since before it got trendy, Ganapati is a constantly bustling local treasure serving deliciously soulful south Indian food.
Thanks to its communal dining tables, colourful trinkets and brightly painted walls, Ganapati is worlds away from the urban bustle of the high street with a vibe that truly transports you to another country. The chefs, originally from the most southerly part of India, are masters of spice and their hearty home-style dishes always leave me hungry for more.
We kicked off the evening with thaire vadai – a savoury lentil dumpling covered in spiced yoghurt and sticky tamarind chutney and a savoury lassi. It was a sweet start to the meal that had our tastebuds desperate for round two. We may have had eyes slightly bigger than our bellies (understatement of the century) and for mains it was: kottayam fish curry, masala dosa and paratha with raita. The fish curry was a perfectly spiced combination of sea bass, tomato, ginger, fenugreek and fennel in a warming sauce; the flaky paratha were perfect for mopping up any excess.
Arriving on a platter with sambar and coconut chutney, the masala dosa pancake was beautifully thin and stuffed with divine spiced mashed potato. There was more than enough food for two and had we been there all night, we would have easily polished the whole lot off. When the weather is warm, request a seat outside or in the conservatory; it’s a brilliant place for first dates too, cosy but not overwhelming.
All I can say before you visit is: arrive hungry and book in advance – regardless what time or what day you go, Ganapati is always busy.