London is a rich boiling pot of world foods, and Indian cuisine is almost a staple diet for the seasoned city-dweller. Whether you’re itching for an authentic khorma or a glamourous fine dining experience, we’ve highlighted some of the city’s most exciting Indian restaurants for you to try. The Subcontinent is a land of clashing dialects and food to match. With each state boasting a nuanced cuisine, one varying from the next, why not try a Bhaigan Ka Barta (baked aubergine) or Peshawari Naan (bread stuffed with nuts, spices and currents) as an alternative to the popular curry and rice combination. It’s no secret that a lot of Indian restaurants cater to anglicised tastes. If you’re a fan of chilli, our top tip is to ask the waiter if your food can be prepared ‘desi’ style with plenty of spice - to coin a Hindi phrase.
For those looking for an inexpensive but wholesome dinner, Salim’s (Turnpike Lane) is a must for the North Londoner. Modestly furnished, and tucked away amid the surrounding vegetable shops, Salim’s offer a selection of very traditional Indo-Pakistani foods to eat in or takeaway. Recreating the characteristic thick, creamy dishes of Pakistan, Lucknow and Hyderabad, this a one stop shop for anyone with a real taste for spice. For dishes that pack less of a punch, Majjos (East Finchley) is another great spot for ready-to eat Indian food. The menu varies from day to day but on the whole, this is a reliable and tasty alternative to the typical takeaway. Be sure to check out their sister restaurant Khana Khayae a few paces up the road for a wider selection of dishes. Specialising in Punjabi food, this is a family run business with the restaurant’s name roughly translating as ‘won’t you eat’?
Dishoom. Photo credit: Ewan Munro
Situated in the Art-Deco style old Hoover Building, Royal Nawaab (Perivale) boasts an impressive range of Mughal and Pakistani dishes, traditional sweets and breads. The Nihari (meat stew), Paratha, Gajar Ka Halwa (carrot sweet) and Kher (vermicelli pudding) are particular highlights. This is a popular venue for wedding parties and Ramadan celebrations, with a self-service Italian, Chinese and Salad bar providing family friendly alternatives for the fussy eaters amongst us. Standing proud at the end of Southall’s bustling weekend market, Gifto’s Lahore Karahi serves traditional Pakistani style food and is known for its tandoori grilled meats. More centrally located, Khan’s (Queensway) is another popular family restaurant, now approaching 40 years of service. The Tandoori Mixed Grill, fresh Naan and Butter Chicken are standout dishes, while their Kulfi (fragrant ice cream) is an after-dinner treat for those with a sweet tooth. Khan’s no longer serve alcohol but sweet, salty and mango lassis are a refreshing alternative to the classic post-curry beer.
Royal Nawaab. Photo credit: Mo Azam
Inspired by the old 1960’s Irani cafés of Bombay, Dishoom (Covent Garden) is a stunningly decorated restaurant located in the heart of ‘theatre-land’. It serves generally mild dishes and quirky cocktails such as the popular Tarkda Daal and Monsoon Martini, with dairy and gluten free options also available. Although individual foods are reasonably priced, be mindful that this is a potentially expensive meal, as waiters recommend ordering three to four dishes with accompanying sides. But fear not, complimentary masala chai and mint tea are served to those patiently queuing outside the glamorous mock Bombay café. For a fine dining experience, Amaya (Knightsbridge) is an equally stylish Michelin starred restaurant. Set up by Camilla Punjabi, the author of 50 Great Curries of India, Amaya promises an elegant dinner setting with its open grill forming a popular feature. For those looking for an affordable high-end option, check out the Sunday lunch set menu. In nearby Lincoln street, Vineet Bhatia serve an interesting fusion of traditional Indian foods and nouvelle cuisine. This is the latest venture from the Michelin starred chef and creator of the Rasoi restaurant which closed down last year. Bhatia is known for his daring flavour combinations and certainly appeals to the experimental diner with cash to spare.