As an English girl living abroad, I understandably crave food that reminds me of home. No, not scones and clotted cream, fish and chips or even marmite for me, thank you. What I miss the most is curry.
Living in Seville 5 years ago, I once got so desperate for Indian cooking that I paid the extortionate price (well, it seemed steep back then) of €3.50 for a tin of Patak's curry sauce from the local supermarket. After observing that shelf for a year, I can hazard a guess that I was probably the only person to ever purchase any. Thankfully in Madrid there's no need for me to cook up my own mediocre attempt: if I get a curry craving I just head to the barrio of Lavapiés, which is packed full of Indian restaurants.
My personal favourite is Shapla, a no-frills curry house that serves up a huge menu of tasty dishes. In summer, the friendly proprietors shift tables into the street, making a terraza ideal for soaking up the atmosphere of Lavapiés. Everything from korma to vindaloo is on offer here, with an impressive selection of vegetarian options including tarka dal, aloo gobi, palak paneer and a mixed vegetable curry. There are also more flavours of naan bread than you can shake a samosa at: the cheese variety might sound strange, but it certainly tastes good.
The best thing about Shapla is the price: whether I've eaten one of the set menus on offer Monday to Friday (prices from €7 upwards for 4 courses and drink, available at lunchtime and in the evening, beating the standard menú del día hands down) or picked a selection of dishes from the menu, I've never paid more than €10. And in a city that isn't exactly famed for value, that's pretty remarkable.
- Lavapíés Shapla is located at Calle Lavapiés 42 (metros Lavapiés or Tirso de Molina).