Phone 020 7733 3150
Web site http://www.khamsa.co.uk
Main dish price range £10.90-£13.90
Rating 5 Stars. The best of its genre-- or perhaps any genre-- in London.
Recommended dishes Djadj bel Zitoun (Chicken and Olives Tajine) and the Walnut, Pomegranate and Cinnamon Couscous
I am going to do away with the build-up openings and go straight to the point on this one: Khamsa, a cozy, Algenian restaurant in Brixton, may flat out be the best restaurant in the city. We've been sitting on this not-well-known fact for awhile now, simply because I couldn't bear to put up a write-up until I had some proper pictures that could help convey the scope of deliciousness here. Nick and I discovered this restaurant this summer when we headed down to Brixton to see one of our favorite bands, Future Islands, play a show at one of the local music venues-- and between the food and the fantastic music that came later, the evening was simply heavenly. We live 45 minutes away, but we've trekked back to Brixton to eat here five times since. Every time we walk out a little dazed and awestruck.
Whenever I begin telling someone about the magic that is Khamsa, the moment I say "Algerian," I get a somewhat quizzical look, so let's tackle that first. Algerian cuisine, while not as well known to many outsiders as Moroccan, shares a host of influences and staple dishes with its fellow North African, Berber-influenced cousin. Meats are cooked in tajines, often stewed for hours over low, charcoal fires designed to preserve their rich flavor. Fluffy couscous is a staple. And many dishes are seasoned with the spices that dominate the region: cinnamon, cumin, coriander, and a shock of saffron.
|The Special Chicken Tajine at Khamsa during a recent visit.|
Another highlight here is the couscous, perhaps the most fluffy and seasoned incarnation of the dish I've ever encountered. The excellent Walnut, Pomegranate and Cinnamon Couscous (£3) is exactly like it sounds: a sweet, feather-light dish with tiny bits of pomegranate speckled throughout like little hidden treasures. The tajines on regular rotation on Khamsa's one-page menu are also equally delicious and adventurously unique. On past visits, I've adored the Djadj bel Zitoun or Chicken and Olives Tajine (£11), which features braised chicken cooked with green olives, carrots, coriander, garlic and saffron, topped with a sweet jolt of caramelized onions, cinnamon and orange zest. The Tajine of Spicy White Beans, Lamb Meatballs, & Merguez (£11.50), also hits all the right notes, combining spicy lamb meatballs, white beans, and tomato-doused sausage in a heavily spiced dish.
|The sampling of seven salads.|
|One of Khamsa's divine cakes,|
courtesy of www.khamsa.co.uk