If Disney Pixar’s Ratatouille taught us anything, it’s that food is about memory.
And Nandine is full of them.
Pary Baban – owner of Nandine – was forced out of her home in Qaladze (now Iraqi Kurdistan) when Saddam Hussein took force. She went from village to village in search of safety and picked up recipes along the way, noting the idiosyncrasies of each dish, in each new place.
Having met her husband while travelling across Kurdistan and finally settling in Elephant and Castle, they went from a sandwich stall, to a space on Vestry Road in Camberwell, to a pop-up at Peckham Levels, to Nandine number 2: a vibrant, cosmopolitan restaurant, on Church Street in south-east London.
As humble as the story that inspired it, the twelve cover restaurant is kitted out with plywood tables, painted brick walls and a sprinkling of house plants – presumably the simplicity is such as to make way for the big Kurdish flavours which are undeniably the main event.
Foodwise, there’s nothing that doesn’t look good (that we didn’t have) or taste good (that we did). The dolma bulged and had an unusual, addictive sweetness to them; the lula kebab (mutton kofte-esque) was heavily spiced and sat on padded flatbread to soak up the juices; and the orange blossom infused, coconut milk pudding sat on homemade baklava was, intoxicating.
Go with a few friends…
…and order everything.
NOTE: Nandine is open Wed-Thurs, 10.30am-4pm; Fri-Sat, 10.30am-10pm; Sun, 10.30am-4pm. They don’t have a website, but you can check out their Facebook here. Otherwise, to book, this is their number: 0208 001 8322
Nandine | 45 Camberwell Church Street, Camberwell, SE5 8TR
Keen for another option nearby, try Parlez.