Rupert Parker visits a new popup restaurant to sample vegan Bangladeshi food.
World Vegan Day takes place on 1st November 2021 and, to celebrate, Lady Lane Kitchen is taking over The Canvas five nights a week until the end of the year. The cooperative brings together six women from different backgrounds who are cooking their heritage recipes at the popup. On offer are vegan dishes from the Caribbean, Bangladesh, the Middle East and Ethiopia, depending on the day you go.
The Canvas is a small space located just off Brick Lane in London’s East End which combines vegan café, community hub and creative venue. Inside are a handful of tables and, on the day, I visit, all are taken. Tonight it’s Bangladeshi food provided by Syeda, from Dadu’s Kitchen a mother of six who’s had over 40 years cooking experience. Her set menu has just two choices for starters and mains and we choose to order everything.
First up is a combination of starters. Bhaaji Surprise is a combination of pakoras (potato fritter made using herbs and a mixture of spices) and begun bhaaji (lightly fried aubergine encased in a crispy, spicy batter). Although they’re not warm, they’re still crisp and the light spice brings out the flavour of the vegetables. There’s also a mango chutney dipping sauce, smooth and pungent.
Keema Shingara is a largish samosa filled with vegan mincemeat, cooked in garlic, ginger, garam masala and fas furan. Now you might ask what meat is doing on a vegan menu but apparently, no animals were harmed in the making of this dish. In fact, it’s a meat substitute based on bean protein and works surprisingly well.
Vegan Jalfrezi is a combination of peppers and vegan chicken, cooked in a mix of spices, tangy yet not too hot. Chana Daal is a light curry made with chickpeas and lentils, flavoured with tomatoes, coriander, garlic and turmeric. Portions are certainly generous and we add some more of that mango chutney to mix with the rice.
Finally to dessert. Coconut Kheer is basically Bangladeshi rice pudding, made with date molasses plus coconut flakes and coconut milk. I’m always a sucker for milk puddings and this is a tasty twist on an old favourite. Just be warned that the portions is huge, so better to share,
At the end of our meal, Syeda comes out to talk to us. She says that she was worried that her food wasn’t strictly vegan and she worked long and hard to modify her recipes. On our tasting, her results were certainly successful – it would be interesting to try her original non-vegan dishes, but that’s for another day.
Of course, Syeda’s food is only one part of the event that sees The Canvas offering vegan food from all over the world. I can’t wait to try the dishes from the Caribbean, Bangladesh, the Middle East and Ethiopia. Even better, it’s extremely good value.
Tell Me More About Lady Lane Kitchen
The popup is running from now until the end of 2021 and there will be special ‘What we eat at Christmas’ dishes. Menus are served Tuesday-Saturday from 6 pm. and offer food from the Caribbean, Bangladesh, the Middle East and Ethiopia.
Dadu’s Kitchen £15 for two courses, and £5 for an extra course. To see the dates and to book, go to Eventbrite.
The Canvas 42 Hanbury St, London, E1 5JL