It’s nearly summer, it’s grey and about to rain. Where’s the heat, sun and colour? Thankfully Alchemy Festival along the Southbank has brought a taste of summer with the flavour and heritage of South Asian culture, art and street food. We share a few of our highlights.


Alchemy food market

Dashing excitedly around the Alchemy food market whilst trying to decide which chaat to have, whether to indulge in a Kingfisher beer, or a smooth mango lassi evokes the spirit and madness of the street food and markets in Asia, particularly India for me. There may not be the loud heckling or haggling of market traders, or the loud horns of rickshaws, lorries and bikes going past, but the colour, vibrancy and diversity of South Asian street food is there. With so many choices of food from Horn OK Please, Guptas UK, Joho Soho, Maharajas and more, you’re spoilt for choice, however there’s plenty of smaller dishes that are easy to share if you want to try a few different things. I particularly loved the addition of tables with carrom boards decked out for hardcore fans and newbies to this traditional game.

Perfect to burn off those samosas.


Street food at Alchemy food market


Jewellery, Carrom boards and street food at Alchemy


Decor detail

Roti Chai’s ‘Chaat Shack and Chai Bar’

Roti Chai’s pop-up Chaat Shack and Chai Bar is the perfect spot to grab Indian street-inspired food. Chaat are savoury snacks, which are normally sold on the road side from small carts or stalls.

I thought the masala chai was authentic: rich, spicy and warming, perfect for relaxing after a heavy and chaotic day. The papri chaat (Papdi Chaat, however you wish to call it) was refreshing. Too often I find other restaurants’ chaats can have an odd twang in the sauces, or even look too “red” for me. Roti Chai’s version is the right balance of sweet, sour, tang and crunch. The Keralan pulled pork bun may not have been high on the spice or heat radar, however what it lacked in fire, it punched in flavour and taste.

Papri chaat, Pulled pork bun and masala chai at Roti Chai

Papri chaat, pulled pork bun and masala chai at Roti Chai

Design Wallah

Design Wallah’s showcase of art and design in Southbank’s Festival Village is a riot of pattern and colour. There’s bold printed bags, textiles for the home and jewellery to be brought from Plum Chutney, Kangan Arora and Safomasi.

Natasha Kumar’s Holy Cow series of prints draws on influences from the typography and colours in Indian advertising art and is combined with artwork of the sacred cow. Observe it and interpret the art as you wish. Piccadelhi’s prints and works are a playful twist on British designs with Indian humour.

Holy Cow Series. Natasha Kumar

Holy Cow Series. Natasha Kumar

Cartwheels in the Sky

There’s a celebration of storytelling and history to be found in the artwork around the Southbank centre. Colombo based artists collective Bang Bang, use the symbolic form of the Mandala to express the spirituality and energy within. The circular artworks are intricately decorated exploring ancient carvings, architecture, and ritual, as well as Hindu and Buddhist culture.

There’s so much more to explore at Alchemy Festival – the diversity of art, culture, design and food is engaging.

Take a trip this bank holiday to Southbank for an early dose of an Indian summer.

And if it rains, just think, it’ll be like experiencing a real Indian monsoon.


Alchemy Festival | 16-26 May

Southbank Centre Square (behind Royal Festival Hall) Southbank Centre, London SE1 8XZ

Opening Times:

Mon-Thur Noon-6pm

Fri Noon-8pm

Sat 11am-8pm

Sun Noon-6pm

Free Admission

For more information go to: and


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