The love affair continues - You're never far from a curry house in London
By Emma Wallis
Do you love Indian food? We do too, and that's why we dedicate ourselves to finding the best places to enjoy Indian cuisine in London. We've diligently scouted out the top eateries, and we've listened to our readers and their reviews of London restaurants. We share the places that get great buzz, like Lahore Kebab House, and we showcase the ones that have proven themselves over time, like Tamarind. We also point out good neighborhoods for Indian restaurants in the London - Chelsea area, for instance. When the craving hits, we'll make sure you get your fix!
Aladin Brick Lane
A walk up and down London's Brick Lane, just near Liverpool Street Station will leave you spoilt for choice as to where to eat if you fancy a curry or something else from South Asia. But Aladin, has won several awards, and even been praised by HRH Prince Charles himself, according to the restaurant's website. They claim, if you request, they'll play the tape back to you of this princely praise. Using fresh flavours and lots of spice, this restaurant cooks everything from all over the sub continent. From India, to Pakistan, to Bangladesh. It's good value too, and all the curry house fare you could hope to order. Great for popping in late night after a drinking binge in the area, or for a fun evening with friends and a mango lassi before you hit the nightclubs or shops in nearby market Spitalfield's. The restaurant was traditionally a meeting place for the Bangladeshi community to meet in Brick Lane, and dishes from that part of the sub continent are likely to be best, as tradtitionally most of the chefs also come from that country, but they've had enough experience of cooking everything from the four countries that anything you order will tickle your taste buds and fill you suitably up. (020 7247 8210)
Southall is one of THE places to go if you want authentic, cheap and delicious Indian food. This Punjabi place, run by a family who are Punjabis but grew up in Kenya serve up delicious piping food to order. The whole area has delicious smells swirling past you as you browse and shop, and this really is 'Little India' in London. The place used to be called 'Madhu's Brilliant' after the Brilliant hotel where the family used to work in Nairobi. Like Aladin in Brick Lane, this restaurant also claims that Prince Charles has eaten here. As well as all the British curry staples, they have some interesting East African twists to their food, with influences from the Masai Mara tribe amongst others. Fish is flown in from Lake Victoria and the butter chicken (Chicken Makhni) is laden with cream and deliciousness. (20-8574-1897)
Diwana Bhel Puri
This is South Indian vegetarian street food at its best. The atmosphere is sunny and simple and the food equally so. Just behind Euston Station, not far from Warren Street, this and many of the other restaurants in the same street, Drummond Street (which is known for its South Indian cuisine). This place has been going since the seventies and has many regulars. Bhel Poori, a kind of Indian tapas, small plates of south indian snacks is the house speciality, as the name would suggest, but crispy dosas and vegetarian Thalis are also good and more filling if you want a bit more than a quick snack. TUBE: Euston Station, Euston Square, Warren Street. (020 7387 5556)
Set in the heart of Westminster, in what was once Westminster Library, the Cinnamon Club is old style colonial as far as decor goes, and New Indian cuisine with a twist in substance. The restaurant is light and airy, cream walls and solid chairs, dark wood floors and leafy trees interspersed between the tables. The archs mimic moghul architecture in this listed building, and that's even before you've ordered any food. The Cinnamon club prides itself on not standing still, and they offer a kids' menu as well to help change everyone's perceptions of Indian food, right down to the smallest person in the party. It's not cheap here, but the quality is palpable, Wagyu beef for instance is 95 pounds a serving, but this is fine dining Indian style. TUBE: St. James's Park or Westminster (20-7222-2555)
Rasoi Vineet Bhatia
Vineet Bhatia says he came to London with nothing but ambition and a love of Indian food. He's managed to turn that winning combination into a first class restaurant. At Rasoi Vineet Bhatia Indian food is 'released' from its traditional copper bowls, and combined in a nouvelle cuisine type way on sparkling white plates. Little twists of flavour here, crispy trimmings there. Take the first thing on the entrees menu, crab lolly with coconut lime soup and a crab mustard caviar. Intrigued ? Well that's just the beginning. Prices are steep, 87 pounds per person for the presige menu, but with foie gras naans with green apple chutney, and white tomato chicken Makhni, and then stilton lamb tikki, this place combines the best of Britain and India in a very interesting way. To finish that particular menu, chocolate with rose hearts, and your and the chef's love affair with India is complete. TUBE: Sloane Square (20-7225-1881)
Out of all the restaurants on Green Street, this looks one of the most unprepossessing, it's basically just a grill counter with already made curries to be served and warmed up, with a few formica tables in the back. But the freshly made naans by a dedicated naan chef in a specially designed fire tube are to die for. And the small range of curries that they have ready, one or two Lamb based ones, a spinach one, and a chickpea chaana daal are all delicious accompaniaments. Their pilau rice is yummy and different too, with chickpeas and spices including cinnamon bark, instead of the usual British restaurant fare of food colouring and a few chopped vegetables. This is food like you eat in India and it's definitely worth braving the restaurant's initial impressions. Just next door is a delicious Indian bakery and down the road are several ice cream parlours serving up kulfi as well as western varieties too. (0208 552 6831)
Lahore Kebab House
As its name suggests, the Lahore Kebab house serves authentic Pakistani cuisine from its base in East London. They've been serving food here for over 40 years, and it's a family run business, currently managed by Mohammed Siddique and his two sons Emran and Asif. They have opened a second branch in Streatham in South West London too. TUBE: Shadwell and Streatham (20-7481-9737, 20-7481-9737)
Zaika quite literally means sophisticated flavours and that's what you get when you dine in this restaurant in the heart of Kensington. The restaurant promises tradition and eastern flavours with a western twist. Innovation, and your old favourites at the same time. So carved wooden elephants sit alongside a well stocked bar and plush velvet seats covered in scatter cushions. The building itself is a former bank, with high ceilings and lots of light from the huge windows. Think rubies, gold, and purple, and you'll get the kind of opulence which the restaurant transmits. They tell you to think Rajput princes, and the food seems to be trying to reflect that, with guinea fowl, salmon, monkfish and masala duck featuring heavily. TUBE: High Street Kensington (20-7795-6533)
Tamarind has been open for 16 years now. This award winning restaurant in the heart of Mayfair, works at changing people's perceptions of the subcontinent's cuisine. Their chef, Alfred Prasad, was the youngest Indian chef to win a Michelin star at just 29 years old. He joined Tamarind in 2001 as a sous chef, rising quickly to become the restaurant's executive chef. The food comes from the Moghul tradition of North West India; where meat, bread and game are cooked in the Tandoor ovens. As well as all the traditional fare one would expect from that part of the world, the chef works hard to create seasonal specials and twists to keep the guests coming back for more. TUBE: Green Park (20-7629-3561)
Rasa is a sanskrit word with several meanings, including beauty, delight, happiness and essence. The restaurants (because they're now a chain) all serve delicious South Indian food, delicately spiced with coconut, lemon, mango, cinnamon and tamarind. The Lemon and coconut rice, and freshly made idlis, appams, and Uzhunappam are a perfect accompaniment to the curries and the starters are perfect southern street food. The first Rasa was in Stoke Newington and was purely vegetarian, there are now fish and meat Rasa's too, and they're all over town, but expansion doesn't seem to have dampened the quality or the friendliness of the service. (20-7249-0344)
About Emma Wallis
London gives Emma a warm fuzzy feeling every time she gets back to her home city. As a writer and broadcaster she travels extensively round Europe and the world, but is always happy to return to London town. All that travel means she knows what she looks for as a visitor to a new city: insider knowledge, tips, and the feeling that she's found something that few travellers get to experience. Emma enjoys keeping her fingers on the capital's pulse, in order to make sure that everyone enjoys her favourite city, as much as she does.
Read more about Emma Wallis here.