It’s no secret that the UK is curry-mad, and nowhere more so than London. From Brick Lane to Westminster, Indian food fanatics can find mouth-watering dishes, from budget street eats to South Asian haute cuisine. Competition is fierce among the capital’s curry-houses, so we’ve updated our previous guide to bring you 10 more places to get the best curry in London.
Courtesy of Moti Mahal
Situated in the heart of the theatre district in Covent Garden, Moti Mahal serves classic Indian food such as a traditional spice lamb curry, but also offers modern dishes for the more adventurous. Since the restaurant’s opening in 2005, Anirudh Arora, who was born in Delhi, has worked as the head chef. Arora’s great passion of the cuisine from the famous Grand Trunk Road of Northern India, is reflected in a menu designed around this era. The menu also offers an extensive list of vegetarian food, including the delightful jackfruit in roasted onion and coconut masala. The drab interior should not mislead Indian food lovers; the new wave Indian dishes that the restaurant has to offer means that guests still get high-class cooking. Their main clientele usually consists of international businessmen and women and their menu is priced accordingly, but everyone is welcome.
Grilled Scottish Lobster with Coconut and Kasundi mustard | Courtesy of The Cinnamon Club
The Cinnamon Club, located inside the Old Westminster Library, truly is a unique Indian dining experience. Headed by well-known chef Vivek Singh, who has appeared on the likes of BBC’s Masterchef and Saturday Kitchen, Cinnamon Club takes Indian food ‘beyond authenticity’ by merging new ideas with age-old recipes from the Indian subcontinent. Expect to pay quite a bit more than your average curry on Brick Lane, but if you are after something a bit more extravagant, then step right ahead and pay the Cinnamon Club a visit.
Grilled Scottish Lobster with Coconut and Kasundi mustard
Courtesy of The Cinnamon Club
Restaurant, Indian, $$$
Whether it is time for breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon chai or supper, Dishoom Shoreditch is always open and welcoming no matter what the occasion. The restaurant finds its inspiration from the ‘Irani’ cafés that populated 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 complements this design with 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.
Experimenting with South West Indian cuisine, Trishna. a Michelin star winner 2012, offers some of the best Indian gastronomy with an innovative touch. The hugely diverse menu focuses mainly on the traditional dishes of country’s coastal regions, using seasonal ingredients and British seafood. The wine list is similarly extensive, with some very fine bottles on offer to complement the delicious food. The beautiful restaurant, done out with antique mirrors, marble tables and banquette seating next to the bar, accommodates up to 80 guests. Located in the centre of Marylebone Village, the dining atmosphere is convivial and informal.
Amaya has successfully built a reputation as one of the best Indian fine-dining restaurants in London, and since opening in 2004 has become something of a trendsetter in the city’s new wave of Indian gastronomy. This is clearly backed up by the fact that 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. Be sure to ask for a table close to the open kitchen for a closer look at chefs at work on the clay tandoor.
Although Masala Zone has various locations across the city, these restaurants certainly don’t feel like a chain. Serving some of the tastiest and most authentic Indian cuisine to be found in London, each venue has a unique interior combining modern design, atmospheric lighting and an interpretation of one of the many Indian folk stories. The one thing that each location has in common however, is that the menu focuses on offering real Indian food, not dishes adapted British tastes. Guests can enjoy delicious Indian food in the Bayswater branch, where the vibrant pop art collages are inspired by the city of Sivakasi in South India, known for its firecrackers; in the Camden Town location humorous posters from the 1930s and 1940s hang on the walls; in Covent Garden hundreds of puppets from Rajasthan hang from the ceilings. At affordable prices, guests can enjoy both Indian street food and ‘home-made’ food prepared by chefs from all around India.
Various locations in London, United Kingdom
Pub, Restaurant, Indian, $$$
Opening in 1972, family-owned and run Tayyabs restaurant is one of the veterans on this list, but its popularity has continued to surge year on year. With very humble beginnings in a small café, the original premises slowly expanded, adding the neighbouring pub and a third premise to the restaurant. Tayyabs is now massive, very hectic and loud. If you are looking for a relaxing evening or an intimate atmosphere this isn’t the place for you, but if cheap and daring Punjabi food is the order of the day then venture forth. Their grilled lamb chops are the must-try item on 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, the Thursday Karahi lamb chop curries or prawn special Saturdays. Tayyabs also wins fans for having a corkage-free policy.
Bayleaf has been around for nearly 18 years, and the service and quality of food are as strong now as the day it opened. Offering a seasonal menu and utilising traditional cooking techniques with the freshest of ingredients, this award-winning restaurant certainly has found the recipe to success. Not only does the restaurant have a great ambience, but the dishes match it with their presentation and flavour. Try their delicious salmon tikka, a fillet marinated in garlic, dill and ginger is then grilled in their charcoal clay oven.
Gymkhana, one of the fancier establishments on this list, offers contemporary Indian cuisine with a strong focus on the tandoori oven. The interior certainly is unique, referencing the British Raj, with a dark oak ceilings, marble tables and hunting trophies hanging on the walls; stepping inside feels as if you have gone back in time to colonial India. The menu, much like the interior, is quite distinctive, but that’s not to say the food isn’t consistently high quality. Offering numerous menus such as a game menu, a vegetarian menu and various tasting menus, everyone is sure to find something to their liking.
Lal Qila is of the most popular Indian restaurants in London and it’s easy to see why: their authentic Indian food, made with the finest ingredients, is truly splendid. The menu is diverse, offering dishes from multiple regions of the Indian subcontinent and following the various distinctive styles of cooking used in each of these regions. This certainly is the place to try if you are looking to experience and explore Indian food beyond a simple curry, although if it is a simple curry that you are after this can also be arranged. An atmospheric place where the prices are reasonable, the food is great and the staff could not be friendlier.