So you’ve never been to… Masala India, High Road Leyton

The food is perfect for winter. And the garden room is Leyton’s worst kept secret

Age: Ooh, less than eighteen months. Previously it had been Uptown Burger, with several other incarnations over the years.

Where exactly is it? Leyton High Road, near E10’s cutest cafe, the delectable daytime-only (but soon to launch an evening bar – woop!) Curved Brick Co.

OK. So what goes on there? Tiffins. And other dishes, both vegan and non-vegan, of course. But it’s the tiffin boxes we crave.

So what should I eat? Each tiffin consists of four dishes, with punters selecting one from each section of curries, vegetables, breads and rice. “Traditionally it’s a food roulette and supposed to be total pot luck as your mother or wife chooses for you,” says the menu blurb. “Luckily we allow you to.”

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Simple interior at the front. Photo: SE

And? We shared two, one pescetarian and one for ‘meat-lovers’, at £16 each. Though the price may seem steep, there’s more than enough food for your dollar: little aluminium pots are filled with juicy prawn bhuna, tender chargrilled lamb chops, chicken blackened in a tandoor oven, creamy dahl, comforting sag aloo and some fine pilau rice (oh, and a moreish garlic nan). Phew.

The interior: discuss. Basic-but-comfortable at the carpeted front, all purple banquette seating, but in-the-know regulars all head to the back room. A semi alfresco covered garden-style space with stripped wooden floors, eclectic furniture and sharing tables, at the weekend it’s a riot, with walk-ins, on our last visit, all turned away.

Crazy: the garden room. Photo: SE

And what do I drink? Hallelujah! It’s our old friend, a BYO – and, like that E11 fave Panda, there’s no corkage charge. So do as everyone does and bring a few clunking bottles along. The couple next to us were certainly going at it Friday-night stylee, with cans of pre-mixed G & T each to accompany their poppadoms, then two bottles of wine for the meal. Us? We shared a primitivo from the offie next door.

What’s the service like? Ridiculously friendly. The owners happily impart anecdotes about the menu and their cooking techniques, and seem genuinely thrilled it’s such a buzzy place.

Do say: We couldn’t put it better than local foodie celeb Grace Dent, who said in The Guardian: “My new favourite place. Choose your own tiffin tin. Or let them choose it for you if it’s been a long week.”

Don’t say: “A table for two, please”. That is, if you walk in without a reservation at weekend peak o’clock.

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Tiffin boxes £16, Masala India, 466 High Road E10, open daily more info here

Main image: Masala India

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