Camden Lock Market: A taste of the world, a recipe for success

By Georgie Knaggs

Joe Timur of Sonita’s Kitchen in the West Yard of Camden Lock Market. Photo by Georgie Knaggs.

Camden Lock Market, one of London’s most popular craft markets, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The market is one of the many in Camden that together receive some 15m visitors each year. The job of feeding these crowds falls in part to the chefs in the West Yard. Here the cooking is personal – recipes are learned at home and flavoured with tastes from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Take for example Sonita’s Kitchen, run by Joe and Sonita Timur. Joe, born in Turkey, is half Turkish and half English while his wife is from the Punjab state in northwest India. They sell fragrant, delicately spiced curries cooked without butter or ghee.

“It’s a really good market because it’s known as a food market,” says Joe Timur. “People come here specifically to eat.”

The West Yard at weekends probably hosts a sample of the whole world to a lunch break with visitors and stallholders alike.

A little further along, Danish Mirza, the chef from Food in the Middle, is a chartered accountant from Pakistan. He worked in the City for eight years but now he sells paratha wraps, a popular street food in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city.

“I always wanted to do my own thing,” he explains. “Karachi is a cosmopolitan city and people are always on the run,” adds Mirza. “They are getting your traditional tikka and selling it in wraps. I went one step further and took my food, which is much healthier than street food, and put that into wraps.”

The West Yard has an ever-changing selection of food.  On some days, within the space of a couple of hundred yards, there will be the saffron colours of Spanish paella across from bright piles of French macaroons.  Barbecued Turkish kebabs might be found next to a pitch selling cauldrons of fresh English soup.  The macaroni and cheese stall advertising a dessert of deep-fried Oreos might rub shoulders with the wide front of the Chinese stall selling dumplings and noodles.  There might be Italian pizza, Jamaican jerk wraps, Japanese sushi, sweet French crepes, and to finish it all there will almost always be the warmth of Ethiopian coffee.

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