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We interviewed Dipa Patel about Tooting Market, the  vibrant and diverse indoor market of South London. She told us about how she ended up in Tooting, where to get the most delicious Guayanese Patties and the importance of visiting markets.

Hi Dipa, tell us a little bit about yourself!

My name is Dipa, I run the Taste of Tooting Tours. The idea is to give people who are new to the area a taste of the Tooting’s rich cultural heritage through independent eateries and food businesses.

What is your connection to Tooting Market?

My mum’s family moved to Tooting in the 70’s from Uganda after being expelled by Idi Amin. They made Tooting home, and started businesses in the area. I remember being taken to Tooting Market as a kid by my grandmother. It looked very different back then, although there are still some shops that are still there – like Stannards (the butchers).

Man standing behind his food stall

Why do you think Tooting Market is special and worth a visit?

Like most local markets, it reflects the diversity of the Tooting community. It has shifted and changed over the years, just as the Tooting community has. It’s open, vibrant and welcoming. It’s like a second home!

Your top 3 favorite things you can buy at the market

  • Graveney Gin – locally produced gin. A must try!
  • Dhal Puri from Mangé des Îles – A mauritian dish, made from lentils. Delicious!
  • Guayanese Patties from Pepi’s – Homemade flaky pastry filled with a spiced ground beef filling. You can’t just buy one!

What is your favourite stall/small business at the market?

I think they’re all great. I can’t pick one, as they’re all different and each trader is so passionate about their products. Although I have to say I really like the ethos of BYO – A zero waste shop, where you can bring your own packaging. They are responsive to what customers want as well, which is really nice.

Tell us about a memorable encounter you had at Tooting market!

I often bump into Dave Mauger who runs Tooting Newsie. He’s a big promoter of all things Tooting, and the person to talk to for recommendations. He’s a lovely guy and always has time for a chat.

Why do you think it’s important for people to visit markets in general?

It’s important to support local businesses, especially in times like these [this interview was conducted in July, 2020 in midst of the COVID19 pandemic] when they’re really struggling. There is a level of care and customer service you wouldn’t receive in bigger shops. I like that everyone knows each other and that popping down to the market is like popping down to see can catch up with friends.

The Taste of Tooting Tours by Dipa are having a break, but make sure to follow her on Instagram and Twitter for any updates.

Do you want to learn more about the people of Tooting Market? Make sure to listen to the episodes of the Lecker podcast by Lucy Dearlove featuring Dipa. Click here for the first episode and here for the second episode. You can also listen to Lecker wherever you get your podcasts.

A special thanks to Dipa Patel for answering all my questions and to Jane from Tooting Market for providing the photos featured in this post.

Market ambassadeur: Dipa Patel (Instagram:@tasteoftootingtours, Twitter: @8dipatel8)

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