Sandhya was born in South India and was brought up on Keralan home cooking, Gaurav is a passionate chef – together they make up Horn Ok Please, serving authentic Indian street food on the streets of London. We discover the ingredients behind their success…
Unusual name… where does the meaning of Horn Ok Please originate?
You will see the words ‘Horn Ok Please’ printed on the back of almost all commercial vehicles in India in different forms (Blow Horn, Horn Please etc). The origin of the phrase is about giving warning before overtaking these large vehicles, but for us it reflects the colours, sounds and feel of India’s street culture and thus street food.
Who are your biggest food inspirations and why?
Street food traders throughout India who create lovely flavours and texture combinations.
One Indian ingredient you couldn’t live without?
Turmeric. As well as flavouring our dishes it has been used for huge range of other benefits. In our homes we turn to turmeric for its health benefits, such as fighting the common cold and sore throat, and even healing cuts and wounds.
What’s your most popular dish?
This would have to be our Moong Dal Dosa for lunch. It is filling as well as healthy, and served with our Channa Chaat chickpeas topped with red onion, yoghurt, sev, pomegranate and lashings of homemade chutneys to provide a complete and delicious meal.
What made you focus on vegetarian dishes?
Keeping the menu vegetarian and largely vegan and gluten-free is reinforced by our ethos of creating a unique, healthy and affordable experience in London.
“Horn Ok Please brings the authentic taste of the streets of India to the streets of London. More than just food, we want to provide a portal to a culture where street food is a critical part of day to day life.”
How did Horn Ok Please start out?
Horn Ok Please (HOP) was established in June 2011 to bring the authentic taste of the streets of India to the streets of London. More than just food, we wanted to provide a portal to a culture where street food is a critical part of day-to-day life. Since the first blossoming of this idea (while trying to order something authentic from a generic curry house in NW London!) we at HOP have come a long way – pleasing and tantalising taste buds of people right across London while giving them a real taste of Indian street food.
Tell us about the dosas that you serve…
There are as many variations of the humble ‘dosa’ in India as regions. The rice and urad dal version is the most common one and is made of a fermented batter giving a crispy finish, and is usually served with a potato filling. The version we sell at our stalls is the Moong dal Dosa made with lentils (also known as pesarattu), which hails from Andhra pradesh and is not fermented. We serve ours with HOP‘s signature masala potato filling to give this dish our unique stamp.
Where do you source your ingredients?
We get our spices from merchants in South West London, fruits and vegetables from the New Covent Garden Market in Vauxhall as well as local south London markets, and our speciality bakery ingredients from a small family bakery in Tooting.
What’s the key to a perfect chai?
You need patience! You will find various different recipes for chai all across India – we use ‘Street Recipe’ from the western part of India, which combines the tea leaves with whole milk, fresh ginger and cardamom pods. Everything needs to be brewed up and allowed to simmer and served fresh (and personally there needs to be some sugar too!)
Do you have any new dishes in the pipeline?
We have a selection of dishes for our street food stall menu that we would like to introduce soon as Specials. These include our Egg Kati Roll comforting all-day spiced omelette in a paratha wrap that was much-loved at our Southbank Winter Market stall; and our Pav Bhaji mix of spiced vegetables and fresh tomatoes, which will leave your tongue-tingling and mouth burning for more.
Horn Ok Please | Find them at Borough Market from Monday to Saturday on three weeks out of four each month (and from Monday to Wednesday every week), as well as Southbank Centre Food Market every Friday to Sunday.