I’m in London to eat food available in Birmingham. Later in this piece, hopefully once the position is more clear, I’ll be eating the same food I ate in London in my home in Birmingham. Given that you will already have read about the food once I’ll likely keep the second piece short. I say “likely”, I am after all a man who recently dedicated one hundred words to a skewer of anchovy, olive, and chilli. Anyhow, stick with me. It’s worth it.

Jugad is the reason I’m here. A canteen style affair in the heart of the City doing Indian street food with just enough of a twist to get my attention. The promise of a lighter style of cooking isn’t as much ofa draw to me as the vegetarian heavy menu, such as baked butternut samosas, kurkure, vada pav, and tikki chaat with parsnip patty. I tried the last two. Both were excellent.

Take the vada pav – essentially a potato butty – bright with mustard seed throughout the potato patty so that it’s heat is gentle and persistent, with a tangy barbecue-style sauce that’s totally inauthentic but actually makes perfect sense given the sweet and sour is coming from tamarind. Likewise, tikkitikki chaat is brilliant. Under the rubble of mung beans and sev is a spiced parsnip patty that is way more interesting than a potato on the grounds that it’s not a potato. There’s a healthy level of spice and a green chutney good enough to sell.

I gather that meat has been a recent addition to the menu, and for that it’s hard to believe I may never had tried the lamb hopper biriyani. In swapping out the rice for chopped hopper – or idiyappam as it’s traditionally known – they’ve not just taken the dish to the most southern point but lightened it to something that doesn’t require a sleep afterwards. It’s borderline genius. Chilli chicken is more conventional, properly spicy, very nice, but maybe not as essential as that biriyani.

Three nights later back in Harborne we order the same dishes again, delivered by a man in a lime green jacket on a motorbike some 40 minutes later. I don’t need to, but I want to check the quality of a kitchen one hundred miles away from my last lunch. It’s still very good. Nothing deteriorates in travel and if anything, those hoppers take on a new life as more of the juices get soaked up from the lamb. Bill in London is zero: bill in Brum £28. Will gladly pay it again. The plan for Jugad is gentle expansion. Deliveroo kitchens across the country, street food events, maybe some more restaurants. Get thehopper biriyani, put the tikki tikki chaat on the side. You’ll be very pleasantly surprised.

Find Jugad here & here

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