We reckon that we’re splendidly lucky to have a market right on our doorstep. It’s just a small one, but what Ridley Road lacks in size, it certainly makes up for its variety of sights, sounds and smells. It is like having a chunk of the world on our doorstep. Jamaican groceries, West African dried goods, Indian spices, Jerk Chicken, Roasted Corn, Middle Eastern bread, fabric, haberdashery, black hair and beauty goods, Ethiopian stews, Trinidadian rotis, fruit and veg by the bowl-full and my current favourite things……Colombian empanadas freshly made and hot out of the fryer to keep my hands warm and my belly happy!
There were some anxious weeks when our Colombian friends vanished from the market which caused some moping about on my part. Happily, they did return and I was so happy to see them that I ran up to them to welcome them back. I think they were bemused with my jittery enthusiasm. Now whenever I see the Colombian flag aloft in the market, I know it will be a good day!
Colombian empanadas are a popular fried snack made using a coarse yellow or white corn flour wrap stuffed with stewed beef, pork or chicken and potatoes. They are usually eaten with Hogao which is a type of relish made of tomato, onions, chillies and coriander. If you are east African is similar to kachumbari.
Now we are no means experts on empanadas but we have tried quite a few in London. The fab little South American market in Seven Sisters do some great ones (if you have not been here yet, you really must! It’s not like being in London at all!). The little eateries beneath the railway arches in Elephant & Castle also have some tasty offerings. However, none can beat the ones we get on Ridley Road for just £1 each.