Saturday, 11 February 2012

More cheap places to munch around London

This post has been sitting here for years unfinished - so thought I'd just post it. The halal world has got a zillion times better since, with better but far more expensive places serving halal food - a new post is coming up.

Central London - Drummond St
  • Ravi Kebab. Pakistani. Great food at low cost, around £10 per head.
  • Ravi Shankar. South Indian Vegetarian. Yes, it's vegetarian, but it's actually pretty good. Around £10-15 per head.
West London - Edgware Road
  • Bake & Cake. Lebanese. It looks like a coffee & cake place but is actually a full (and good) service Lebanese restaurant too. The strawberry milkshake tastes like real strawberries. Not expensive either, £10-15 per head.
  • Beirut Express. Cheap & self-service, but great Lebanese food. If you can do early mornings, come here for breakfast - it's lovely. Around £10 per head.
  • Maroush restaurant chain. Lebanese. There are a few scattered around Edgware Road (and a few more in the Kensington/Knightsbridge area). Effectively a full service and slightly upmarket version of Beirut Express (owned by the same people). Menus are nearly identical at all of them, i.e. the same good food you get at Beirut Express, but pricier. Service is 'ok' (you might be lucky and catch them in a good mood, but don't go there if warm service is important to you). Around £20 per head.

South-West London (Bayswater & Kensington)
  • Alounak, Westbourne Grove. Persian. Around £15-20 per head.
  • C&R, Westbourne Grove. Calls itself Malaysian but has dishes from all over South East Asia. And they serve iced Milo and milk tea. Around £15-20 per head.
  • Nando's, Westboune Grove. Grilled chicken Portuguese-style. Around £10-15 per head.
  • Beirut Express, South Kensington (near the station). The swankier, Kensington version of the cheapo Edgware Road one. Part of the Maroush chain yet service is surprisingly decent. Around £20 per head.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Our 2 new favourite restaurants near Central London

In no particular order: Guanabana (Camden Town - zone 2, north) and Jungle Braai (Aldgate East - zone 1, east).

I've lost count of the number of times we've been to these two places in the last couple of months. Amazing flavours! Both are around £20-25 per head (depending on whether you have room for dessert).

At Guanabana (Caribbean) - do try:
- Jerk half chicken (a must if it's your first time there)
- Flying Adobo (jerk chicken wings)
- Beef empanadas
- Banoffee pie

At Jungle Braai (South African) - do try:
- Lamb chops (as a starter)
- Beef steak
- Chicken wings and any grilled chicken on the bone

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Islam & South-East Asian Democracy - Notes from the talk and Q&A with Anwar Ibrahim

A not-so-great camera-phone photo taken by me at the event

On the Bank Holiday Monday (3rd May 2010) just past, thanks to CUSEAF, Dr Anwar Ibrahim came down to the Faculty of Law at the University of Cambridge to talk about Islam & South-East Asian Democracy. He also spent a good hour answering questions from the audience. Dr Ibrahim was a witty and erudite speaker, and we were both educated and entertained (edutained!) during the event.

These notes are by no means complete, but I have tried to convey what Dr Ibrahim said as accurately as I can. He also made many jokes which I'd probably spoil if I tried to repeat here, so I largely won't. The jokes aside, any further errors or omissions will be my fault, and please use the Comments to point them out.

Dr Ibrahim started by rejecting the argument that democracy is not compatible with Asian values or Islam, and the notions that Asian people were 'not ready' for democracy and preferred a paternalistic autocracy.

He noted that Asian nations had fought for freedom from colonial powers on the very same principles that underpin democracy. The argument that Asian people were 'not ready' could no longer wash, since post-independence governments have had some 50 years to get their peoples used to the idea. He further noted that democratic principles existed in Islamic tradition, such as shura, albeit with differences in terminology.

Dr Ibrahim drew many lessons from the success of democracy in the largest Muslim nation, Indonesia. He noted that the Indonesian system was inclusive, with Hindu and Christian minorities represented rather than excluded.

He emphasised the importance of inclusivity - Malaysia could not continue to exclude entire minorities based on race and religion.

More than once he criticised Malaysian arrogance in thinking they are better than Indonesia - a contributing factor in Malaysia's failure to learn from Indonesia's successes in implementing democratic reform.

He emphasised the critical importance of universal justice in any implementation of Islamic Sharia, noting that the Prophet Muhammed's (pbuh) saying that he would punish his own daughter had she been found guilty of a crime. This saying highlights the Sharia's key principle of equality before the law - nobody is above it.

He contrasted the Prophet's (pbuh) principle with the implementation of Sharia in Malaysia, where he cited a recent case of a poor woman who had been punished for being drunk and disorderly, whereas Malaysia's privileged regularly get away with the same offence. He rejected the argument that they were only dealing with those they caught, since no effort was being made to catch the privileged for the same offence.

He noted that the ruling party UMNO continued to undermine the Sharia whilst claiming to uphold it. He cited public information on Mahathir's son's 30% stake in the Philippine brewery company San Miguel (an investment which is not permitted under Sharia).

He further criticised the ruling party's hypocrisy when claiming Islamic values. He noted that a system could not be both Islamic and corrupt at the same time.

He also emphasised the importance of equal access to the courts for any citizen, regardless of their faith (another principle of Sharia that is absent from the Malaysian system). He noted the case of a Hindu woman that was unable to appeal a Sharia court decision, as she had no access to the Malaysian Sharia courts as a Hindu. The civil courts had refused to hear an appeal too, citing the decision of the Sharia court. She was thus denied her right to a hearing. Dr Ibrahim noted that all citizens had equal access to the courts in Indonesia.

He criticised the misunderstanding of Sharia in the West, which results in those supporting Islam & Sharia becoming excluded from political discourse.

He was questioned on the feeling of disengagement still felt by sections of the Indonesian population despite the democratic reforms oft-quoted in his talk. He acknowledged that Indonesia had its issues, and noted that when corruption exists, decentralising power just decentralises the corruption.

He was questioned on the independence of the judiciary in Malaysia. He noted that many local & international organisations continued to criticise the state of the judiciary, which is still not free of external influences. He continues to raise appeals through the courts - primarily to make a point, as he still does not expect a fair hearing. He cited strange rulings, including the case of a rape victim where a man who tried to champion her case found himself sentenced to prison. In another case which affected him, the courts gave two conflicting judgements for the same case in order to legalise actions taken by the ruling party (in the first judgement, dismissing a governor was apparently the king's prerogative, but when the king revealed he didn't actually sign the order, the courts decided it was the prime minister's prerogative).

He was questioned on where he'd "draw the line" with regard to the separation of religion and state in Malaysia. He replied that, when people's rights are guaranteed by a constitution, he didn't see the need for a line - noting that religion continues to make a significant impact in policy-making in the United States of America.

He was questioned on what Malays abroad could do to help reform in Malaysia. He noted that Malaysians abroad, bar some embassy staff, were unable to vote in general elections - unlike many other countries, including Indonesia, that allow their citizens to vote whilst abroad. He said that Malaysians abroad should raise this issue (politely, he added) whenever government officials visited, quipping that they were unlikely to grant this right unless they could be confident that Malays abroad would vote UMNO.

He also noted that he was banned from entering any Malaysian university, since Malaysian academic standards were 'a little bit higher' than those at Cambridge.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

KFC expands halal trial in the UK

Great news alhamdulillah - KFC has expanded its halal trial in the UK to include several stores around central London - including Baker Street and Tottenham Court Road - as well as other major UK cities.

More details on the KFC UK website (click-through)

Monday, 4 May 2009

Halal KFC in London

KFC is doing a halal trial in London!

Check out the KFC website for details

Sadly none of those stores are in Central London though - the closest to Central London is probably the Bethnal Green one.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Places to munch in East-Central, North & South London

Updated: Skewerz has closed

Our views on the places for halal munch in London - sorted by area. East-Central, North, and South London are covered in this entry. 'Proper' East London and West London will be covered in a separate entry inshaAllah. Guide prices include starters, drinks, and sometimes dessert...

East-Central London (E1 & Square Mile)
  • Baraka Eatery. Indian, Bangladeshi & Mediterranean (but stick with the Indian & Bengali dishes). In the East London Mosque/London Muslim Centre complex. Good food and great service at a decent price, around £15-20 per head. Leave space for the gulab jamun with ice cream. Click through for menu, address, etc.
  • Haz. Turkish. Two locations, the first - Premier Place - is in the City of London just a few minutes walk from Liverpool Street station. Good food, though you'll pay City prices. They also have an odd seating arrangement - they have a number of long tables, so other people may well be sat on your table when it's busy (e.g. evenings). Click through for menu, address, etc.
  • Tayyabs. Pakistani/Punjabi. Reasonable food and cheap - about £15 per head all-in. They quite possibly have the best 'proper' mango lassis in London. Very busy though, you're lucky to get a table if you don't book in advance, and it's choc-a-bloc even when you do. Click through for menu, address & other details.
  • Maedah Grill. Turkish. Decent food, and fantastic desserts. Nice creamy mango lassi won't go amiss either. Around £15-20 per head. Click through for menu, address, etc.
North London - Holloway
  • Crystal Charcoal Grill. Turkish. If you take into account the low cost - under £10 per head eating in - it's probably the best Turkish place in London. The kebabs are better than Maedah Grill, but don't expect the same service or desserts though. Even cheaper if you take away (around £5 per head). Address: 522 Holloway Road, London, N7 6JP. Tel: 020 7281 2846.
South London - Tooting
  • CoffeeMax. Italian. Don't let the name fool you - this place is not just for coffee. The meals are amazing, and the dessert is even more amazing. The best halal Italian place in London (I'd say it was the best Italian full stop, but obviously we've only tried vegetarian at other Italian places). You'll pay for this excellence though, about £20 per head (probably more with dessert, milkshake, etc). But it's worth every penny. Click through for menu, address, etc.
  • Chicken Cottage. Fried and, er, (at least partially) grilled chicken. Guilty pleasures on a budget. On the same street (as CoffeeMax) but at the other end of the scale; under £5 per head. Address: 38-42 Upper Tooting Road, London, SW17 7PD. Tel: 020 8767 9229.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Shoes thrown outside Downing Street

(Part of today's protests in London.)