In a country of curry fanatics, Indian food culture is far from confined to Brick Lane. All around London, Indian food lovers can taste delectable dishes whether on a budget or with money to spend. This selection will explore where to find the best Indian restaurants in London, the city that does Indian food better than anywhere else in the West.
Bar, Restaurant, Indian, $$$$
Cardomom Kheer | Courtesy of Trishna
Winner of the Michelin Star award in 2012, Trishna experiments with South West Indian cuisine to offer the best of Indian gastronomy with an innovative touch. The menu is very diverse, focusing on the traditional dishes of the coastal South West and using seasonal ingredients and British seafood. Located in the centre of Marylebone Village, the dining atmosphere is convivial and informal. The restaurant accommodates up to 80 guests in a beautiful space with antique mirrors, marble tables, and banquette seating next to the bar. Moreover, an extensive selection of wine is available to complement any Indian dish Trishna has to offer.
Zumbura offers a wide range of authentic dishes from the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Kullia, ghugni and karela are must-try dishes on their menu, which offers a variety of sharing plates in the traditional Indian manner. Zumbura is the first restaurant to be opened by the co-founders of furniture retailer Dwell, who strive to share their childhood food as best as they can. Their background in interior design is visible in the restaurant, which is influenced by South Asian styles with a ceiling covered with bird prints and beautiful brass lanterns along the wooden bar.
A favourite of food-lovers, Benares is one of the best Michelin starred restaurants in Mayfair. Inspired by the cuisine of his home country, chef Atul Kochhar brings together his Indian heritage with his passion for British ingredients to create unique tastes and an original modern Indian cuisine. Kochhar is the first Indian to have received a Michelin star award while working at Tamarind in 2001; he then decided to open his own restaurant and bar, Benares, for which he received his second Michelin star in 2007.
Dishoom Shoreditch finds its inspiration from the ‘Irani’ cafes popular in Mumbai in the late 20th century. At the entrance, a sign reads ‘permit room’, which is the equivalent of an alcohol-licensed premises. On the ceiling, a giant clock reminds guests of the timepiece that can be found in Mumbai at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. Even the bentwood chairs and the tiled floors are designed in authentic Bombay style. The menu comprises various dishes from old Bombay, including spicy seekh kebabs, juicy minced lamb, bhel and pau bhaji. But more modern dishes such as the lamb raan bun are available too. Whether it is time for breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon chai or supper, Dishoom Shoreditch remains open all day long and on any day of the week, serving food and drinks with a lot of enthusiasm.
Located a short distance from Piccadilly and Trafalgar Square, the stylish and elegant Mint Leaf restaurant and bar offers some of the best Indian cuisine the capital has to offer. Up to 220 guests can enjoy delicious contemporary Indian food in an intimate way, thanks to the American Walnut wood panelling that sections the large restaurant space. In addition, Mint Leaf has become famous for the range of cocktails it has to offer: the bar itself is one of the longest and most attractive in London, and the menu is endless, combining both classic and innovative cocktails with a list of 500 spirits. Together with drinks, platters and light bites are also served at the bar throughout the night. For something a little out of the ordinary, cocktail master classes with their head Mixologist can be booked for a night out.
Amaya is a trend setter in the new wave of Indian gastronomy, building a reputation for being one of the best Indian fine-dining restaurants. In 2006, the restaurant was awarded the Michelin prize for the Best Restaurant and also the Best New Restaurant. It is also one of the few Indian restaurants to have received a Michelin star. Guests can ask for a table close to the open kitchen for a closer look at chefs at work on the clay tandoor.
Situated at various locations in London, Masala Zone restaurants serve tasty and authentic Indian cuisine. They attempt to focus on offering real Indian food, and not adapted dishes to the British taste as it is common in other Indian restaurants in the UK. Their interiors are modern, and guests can enjoy Indian popular art on the walls. Each restaurant’s interior is unique, combining modern design, effective lighting and an interpretation of one of the many Indian folk stories. Guests can enjoy delicious Indian food in Bayswater where the vibrant pop art collages are inspired by the city of Sivakasi in South India, known for its firecrackers. The ambience of each Masala Zone might be different, but the quality of the service and food remains the same. At affordable prices, guests can enjoy both Indian street food and ‘home-made’ food prepared by chefs from all around India.
Since opening in 1972, the family-owned and run Tayyabs restaurant has been getting busier each year. Starting in a small café, the original premises slowly expanded, adding the neighbouring pub and a third premise to the restaurant. The place is now massive, very hectic and loud. Guests do not come here to spend a relaxing evening or for intimate atmosphere, but for the cheap and daring Punjabi food that Tayyabs has to offer. Their grilled lamb chops are the must-try of the menu, which also includes succulent lamb curries, masala channa and dahls, and other delicious North Indian staples. Regular guests know about the daily specials like the Friday meat biryanis or the Thursday Karahi lamb chop curries. Tayyabs also wins fans for having a corkage-free policy.