August is the month of sloth so we rolled into Wembley, north London for a laaazy Sunday brunch at Sakonis. Surrounded by shops selling everything South Asian from sarees and cricket bats to sweet Pakistani mangoes, this cheap and cheerful eatery is the perfect place for a South Indian vegetarian breakfast. Food is served all day, either from the menu or buffet. The restaurant which is canteen-style is at the back past the counters selling fried street food, sweets and paan (betel leaves stuffed with fragrant spices, nuts and coconut).
For only £4.00 per person for the breakfast buffet, you can have your fill of this:
Oh yes, why not start the day with a potato dhosa (thin pancakes made from black lentils and rice powder filled with spicy potatoes), potato curry, poori (fried flatbread), idli (steamed fluffy savoury cake made from fermented black lentils and rice powder), green chutney (made from coconut and coriander), achar (spicy cabbage pickle) and some sambar (dal/lentil gravy with a hint of tamarind) to soak the dhosa. And you can go back and re-fill you plate again and again. Oh yes, we did.
We washed this down with some strong, milky, spicy and piping hot masala tea which was just right. And we ended the meal with something sweet: light and crispy jalebi and strawberry ice cream.
Normally Indian sweets are a little too syrupy, but the jalebi here wasn't the usual sickly sweet fare. It was light and just saccharine enough to give us a mild energy boost. I'm not a big fan of strawberry ice cream, you know, the ones which are a deathly pink pastel colour and tastes like plastic. But this one was pretty nice, not too sweet. Shocking for a South Asian restaurant!
For this price, it's definitely worth a trek up to Wembley, even if the football isn't on.
We left Sakoni's with our bellies full and a big bag of vada (savoury doughnuts made from black gram studded with onion, green chillies and curry leaf) to snack on.
I also toyed with the idea of getting a bit of paan but it was a little too early in the day plus I was stuffed. But seriously, Wembley must be the only place in England where we saw signs warning that anyone spitting out betel leaf juice onto the streets would be prosecuted! Betel leaf can also be chewed together with some areca nut and slaked lime paste - like tobacco and is a stimulant, which produces a red liquid that stains everything. If you've been to South Asia, you're bound to have seen stained mouths and pavements, a little like blood. It used to freak me out a lot as a kid. Nice.