Zinging Decor And Flavours At A Pakistani Restaurant In Stoke Newington
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Inside Shamiyaana there's a visual feast that dazzles the eyes... and I haven't even got to the food yet. The walls, tables and bar are covered with brightly coloured geometric patterns that have me salivating before I even get sight of the menu. It's the work of artist Rasheed Araeen and it's inspired by a traditional Pakistan wedding tent — having been to weddings on the subcontinent I can attest to the sense of capturing the colours and smells of the occasion.
The one difference being that weddings are lively and bustling with people, however on my visit to this Stoke Newington eatery it's almost empty. Well the folks of Stokey are missing out — my tastebuds get just as much satisfaction as my eyes tonight.
Spiced popcorn arrives to whet the appetite, but the spiced really needs to be emboldened, a big mouthful has me reaching for a glass of water at speed. This isn't your standard cinema fare — and a good thing to as you don't want to be scarfing these down absent-mindedly while watching a movie. Those sensitive to heat beware, although for a spice fiend like myself, it delivers the hit I was after.
A starter of fried goodies gets things going with the aubergine standing out, while the pakora and the sweet bread hold their own. I like the fact the selection is heavily seasoned and not too oily, giving them a home cooked feel. Having dined at a lot of restaurants that serve Indian and Pakistani food, it's always a sign that I'm on to a winner when all fried foods go light on the oil. That's a golden rule I picked up from my Mum — when it comes to cooking, Indian mums are the highest benchmark out there.
The main courses of both the chicken and salmon arrive on a thali (metal plate) and once again I'm getting flashbacks to my visits to relatives in India and Pakistan — I was half expecting the water to come in metal cups as well. Lots of small pots of rice, daal and seasoned potatoes recreate that family dinner feeling of choosing what to mix at the proportions that work for me. While it doesn't keep things purely traditional — salmon is definitely not a subcontinent staple — it still gives off that feeling of something one of my aunties could've whipped up in her kitchen.
Our eyes and our stomach are satiated, plus our heart gets a boost too when we find out that 80% of the profits will be used to support charitable causes. Stokey has got this one spot on, with reasonable prices and an Instagrammable decor sealing the deal.
Shamiyaana, 8 Cazenove Road, Stoke Newington, N16 6BD, Wednesday-Saturday.
Last Updated 28 November 2019