Spanish food isn’t very spicy, so one of the most popular options when you really fancy a heat hit is Indian cuisine. From no frills locales to places run by Michelin-starred chefs, we take a look at the best Indian restaurants in Madrid.
From its station-like decor to its spice-rich dishes, Tandoori Station is an immersive experience and a firm favourite with locals, expats and Indians in Madrid. Chef Nadeem Siraj was born in Pakistan to Indian parents. His goal, he says, is for diners to visit Pakistan and India through their palates. The menu is wide-ranging and includes creative starters like Aloo Tikkia; mini hamburgers made from paneer and potato, as well as classic samosas, onion bhajis and pakoras. Choose a dish from the restaurant’s tandoor for delicious, smoky flavours.
Indian chef Atul Kochhar received a Michelin star for his restaurant, Benares in London, in 2007. His Madrid restaurant follows the London formula, combining high-quality local ingredients with traditional Indian cooking techniques. But Kochhar has also been inspired by Spanish ingredients, and incorporates many local favourites, like calamari and octopus, onto the menu. The decor is luxurious and the restaurant looks out onto a pretty terrace with a fountain and projected views of the Ganges. The six-course tasting menu is €65, or diners can order á la carte.
There are a huge number of Indian restaurants centred around Calle Ave Maria in the diverse Lavapiés neighbourhood of Madrid. They are all cheap and pretty no frills, but Moharaj stands out for its food; crispy onion bhajis and samosas washed down with a bottle of Indian Cobra beer make a great starter. There are a good range of curries for all tastes, but one tip is to ask for it a little bit hotter if you prefer your dish particularly spicy. Some dishes do tend to be slightly milder to cater to the Spanish palate.
Located in the swanky Salamanca neighbourhood of Madrid, Swagat is something of a celeb favourite – its website features photographs of Penelope Cruz, and footballers Gareth Bale and Sergio Ramos enjoying meals at the restaurant. Its menu is packed with great flavours and it offers a reasonable lunchtime set menu for just €13.
Just off Gran Vía, in the centre of Madrid, is Curry Masala, a great option for a delicious lunch thanks to its fixed price lunchtime menu del día. The components change every day of the week, but it always consists of a starter, curry, rice and naan, as well as dessert and a drink for €10.95.
Close to Madrid’s Retiro Park, Diwali, from the same group as Curry Masala, specialises in Punjabi cuisine, from the north-east of India. It offers the same lunchtime deals, as well as takeaway options. It has a wide-ranging menu, with classic starters accompanied by many dishes with a Punjabi touch, like the Achari Bhindi, a traditional Punjabi okra curry.
Close to Puerta del Sol, Indian Aroma is a good Indian restaurant option right in the heart of Madrid. While its menu stays within ‘classic’ territory, it is good, hearty food, made with fresh local ingredients. Its dishes are pleasingly hot and its naan breads, huge – ideal for mopping up every last bit of curry.