165 Green Street, Newham Nearest Tube: Upton Park Expect to pay: £6/kilo for burfi
165 Green Street, Newham
Nearest Tube: Upton Park
Expect to pay: £6/kilo for burfi
Opened in 1974, Eastern Foods is an original fixture of Green Street, Newham's answer to Southall and Brick Lane. Today the sweet shop fits right in with the street's Subcontinental bustle, but stands out as an old timer: no contemporary décor, no filmi soundtrack, no Time Out clippings in the window. The shop is all business, as are its gruff proprietor and his no-frills sweets.
If you only ever see mithai shops through the front window, the unfamiliar selection can be daunting. There's a whole world of confections lying beyond the gulab jamun. Next time, whether you're on Green Street or elsewhere, step inside; most shopkeepers we meet are happy to offer explanations and recommendations.
At Eastern Foods the decision is easy, the answer emblazoned across the frontage: "Home of Pure Buffalo Milk Khoya ki Burfi." This is a simple burfi (or barfi — a sweet cut into rectangles or diamonds) made of boiled down milk (khoya), sugar and ghee, not far removed from good English fudge. Eastern Foods are burfi traditionalists, the only shop in London to use buffalo milk thanks to a herd of water buffalo in Warwickshire. Selling mostly to the mozzarella market, this herd produces sweet-flavoured milk of a typical 8% fat content.
While factory stamped burfi can be as dry and uninspiring as pound shop fudge, this is smooth and delightful, with the lingering creamy aftertaste we associate with good milk chocolate. The flavour is identifiably South Asian, but it's less exotic than it is fresh-from-the-kitchen comfort food. Eat some on the spot and take the rest home to share beside cups of hot chai. At £2 for a "small" 300g box, it's a simple pleasure, and a shop to love.