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Machan Kitchen

18 July 2023: Machan Kitchen - Machan a meal of it


It's been a quiet spell for the LCB in recent months but, rest assured, a few curries have been consumed in the meantime, just not at any new locations. 

The occasion for the blog's return this time was a celebration/commisseration with some old colleagues of my untimely job departure.  Yes, I was sadly made redundant, but any excuse for a curry, right?

It was the same crowd that had last gathered at the Three Falcons in March, with some blog veterans in tow.

Any avid readers (are there any?) will know that I've developed a penchant for Sri Lankan cuisine that London is increasingly providing for. This time it was Machan Kitchen in Farringdon's turn to compete with the likes of Hoppers, Kolamba, and Kothu.


A quick Google tells me that Machan means 'brother' or 'buddy', and whilst, a Sri Lankan restaurant in Farringdon is less than familiar, the name certainly reflects the relaxed, beach-hut vibes that Machan Kitchen's inside gives off.

Situated just off the lively Exmouth Market, plenty of pre-curry watering options avail the thirsty diner, whilst straw mats lining the walls, bamboo furnishings, and a seacape paint job provide a welcome escape from the grey London outside.

Gargoyle-esque Sri Lankan masks and decorated plates add further touches from the Indian ocean state, but an open kitchen (as is the modern trend), firmly reminds you that you're in a restaurant, not on some Mirissan beach. You may not quite feel transported to a tropical paradise as routemasters blur past outside, but Machan Kitchen's interrior certainly provides a small oasis of coastal colour and a very chilled dining experience.


Starters and sides

The Boss (fried beef)

Mutton Rolls 

Chilli Paneer

Parippu (red lentils)

Shredded Cabbage

2 x Parata Roti

2 x Coconut Roti

String Hopper

Red raw rice

First impressions of the menu here were excellent. A great variety of authentic Sri Lankan dishes covering everthing from jackfruit to fish cutlets. However, it was hard to overlook the 'colonial classic' (!) named The Boss. I don't know how popular Bruce Springsteen is in Sri Lanka, but I'm sure he'd agree this dish is born to run (possibly in undesired ways given the heat within). Jokes aside, the tender stir fry beef strips packed a hiccup inducing punch and not for the faint hearted, but were a pleasure regardless. In fact, most dishes here are not for the Scovially disinclined, so beware!

Similarly housing heat and stirred fried, but with a tangier and sweeter glaze, was the chilli paneer, packed with onions and peppers. This stood out less than some of the other veggie sides, particularly the shredded cabbage in the thoran style, and the parippu daal that had the perfect consistency, and a nuttier than usual edge to the lentil curry.

The mutton rolls were better than others elsewhere (possibly including at Hoppers) with lovely, sizeable potato chunks amidst the shredded goat meat croquettes. Equally dense were the quartered parata roti breads, whilst the coconut roti were up there with the buttery, flaky Roti King best.

A superb start; it's 8/10 for Starters & Sides.



Chilaw (prawn)

Chilaw Crab Curry

Fish Curry Of The Week

Spot The Goat (curry)

Devilled Chicken

Kajugama (cashew and green bean curry)

With five diners we were able to cast our net far and wide over the seafood and other mains options, but it was probably the oddly named 'Spot The Goat' curry that stole the show. This had Niran raving in particular. With its Caribbean goat curry parrallels and unbelievably rich, marrowy sauce, it helped alleviate Niran's concern about sharing dishes, and progress him into the longer term good books (and invite list) of this here blog.

The strong performance of the goat curry was supported by the seafood cast of prawn, crab and fish dishes. The latter two came in beautifully creamy coconut based curry sauces, with the crab housing a thicker vegetable texture to its depths alongisde a sweet zing of tamrind and other spices. Both were excellent, highly recommended curries, whilst the prawn chilaw was stir fried similarly to the chilli paneer and devilled chicken with onions and peppers, and less exciting as a result. However, the juicy glazed prawns with a garlic edge were still a delectable bite - more so than the paneer and chicken.

Finally, our resident vegetarian Jack has the kajugama cashew and green bean curry. Again, this was a wonderfully executed coconut-cream based curry with a soft crunch gained from the stewed nuts. 

In general, meat, fish and veg lovers are catered well for by the menu here with a good range of uncommon dishes that are all likely to please all palates (jsut watch out for the spice levels). As such, it's a very strong 9/10 for Machan.



'I know better than they do' was the response from our Turkish waiter when I asked what the Sri Lankan staff thought of his suggestion that we get the most expensive items on the menu. We'll put it down to bravado and possibly English as a second language, but it was entertaining nonetheless and came with good humour. Needless to say, I see no problem with a Sri Lankan restaurant employing non-natives, but can probably safely assume they know better about their cuisine than others.

Otherwise proceedings continued at a good pace, with friendly attentive service, including a top up of our beers based on Spellins complaining about the discrepancy between the stated sizes on the menu and our glasses (nothing gets past this guy).


Value for money

Seafood always comes at a premium, as the will the central location of Machan Kitchen, so the prices for the crab curry at £15.50 or 12 hot butter prawns for £25 may not be too surprising. The starters though are at least £6 and cheaper veggie curries are still £10.50. That said, the size of the dishes, variety and flavours on offer provide good value if shared and are only expensive compared to the captial's cheapest curry haunts rather than nearby restaurants. All in all we were well sated for £40 a head including one beer which was probably the only poor value item on the menu.



You may not have heard of Machan Kitchen nor sampled much Sri Lankan fare but perhaps this should be the moment that changes that. I'm not going to say 'I know better than you do', but I would certainly recommend it. This is  reasonably priced, different and exciting food from the Indian sub-continent, served in a setting with little pretense. It scores highly and comes strongly recommended as a result.


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Address: 171 Farringdon Rd, London EC1R 3AL

Cuisine: Sri Lankan

​Status: Open

Alcohol Policy: Licensed

Price: £££

Summary: Exciting and different Sri Lankan fare

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