The shops behind the stalls: Shooey’s favourites

HACKNEYITES can eat like kings without paying a ransom. I shall be returning to my concept of spending £5 in Ridley Road Market on seasonal food for a seasonal recipe. But this week Ive decided to look at some of my favourite shops in Ridley Road because they are behind the stalls and may go unnoticed.

Ararat Bread, pictured below, is in a narrow-fronted shop at the southeast end of the market. Its Pakistani team makes a flat Arab bread that goes on sale wrapped in paper if bought hot or, if cold, in environmentally friendly plastic bags imported from Saudi Arabia.

Flat breads cost £1.20 for three. It is also sold with toppings of cheese, egg or meat — a cheese-topped loaf costs £1.20.

The bakers work shifts between 9pm and 7am when their freshly baked loaves can be bought. Handy if you feel peckish walking home from the Rio Cinema or a club.  Outside those hours,  you can buy the bread at the grocery shop next door and at the Turkish Food Centre (TFC) .

The TFC is a paradise of exotic middle eastern foods, selling halva, houmous, carob or pomegranate syrups, honey with the comb, olive oils, a good selection of freshly prepared olives, feta and halloumi cheeses, nuts and dried fruits, pasta and dried legumes, and baklava and Turkish delight. It is worth browsing the shelves slowly and careful. A current bargain in the TFC is three tins of chopped tomatoes for 99p. Watch out for discounts during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.

Dalston Mill at the northeast end, the shop with the material rolls poking out of its verandah, is a warren of materials, ribbons, buttons, cottons, zips and all that is needed to make royal clothing. It is like an Aladdin’s cave and prices of the materials sold there undercut many department shops’.

Variety Time, a pocket watch of a timepiece shop, is on the south (railway) side, about halfway along the road. Muhammad Salim Kassan describes it as a one-stop shop, offering watch and clock repair and sales, coffee, tea and even, he says, the rite of marriage. Presumably you’d have to be Muslim for that — this most genteel of men is certainly eager to give you his views on the great religions, delivered with an eloquence that is in sharp contrast to the shouty style of an American-accented  preacher whose rantings seems to be on a DVD loop as they boom down from a rear shelf.

Shooey 091112

* Variety Time76 Ridley Road, Dalston, Hackney, London E8 2NR; Dalston Mill Fabrics, 69-73 Ridley Road Dalston, London E8 3NP; Ararat Bread, 132 Ridley Road, London E8 2NR; TFC, corner Ridley Road and St Mark’s Rise, London E8 2NH

* Previous articles hyperlinked:

Golden soup 19 October 2012

Roasted, stuffed squash 12 October 2012

Vegetable curry 5 October 2012

Carrot and coriander soup 28 September 2012

Ratatouille Gypsy stew 21 September 2012

Bubble and squeak Shooey styleBakewell pudding 14 September 2012

Coleslaw and radishes 7 September 2012

Turkish spinach pie 31 August 2012;

Tomato tart, marinated aubergines, fresh mango chutney 24 August 2012;

Roasted butternut squash soup and beetroot salad 17 August 17 2012;

A dish to make from a fiver in the market: the column launched 15 August 2012

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