Curries. Tandoori. Biryanis. I could eat the lot, I don’t know about you… In fact, whether I’m dining in or getting an Indian takeaway, the cuisine is lost upon me if you restrict me eating just one dish – instead of feasting upon the entire menu.
You’ve probably heard about Dishoom. I mean, it’s pretty faultless. Great food, fair pricing – the bottomless chai really is a winner here. Go for the lamb chops, Bombay potatoes and the dal – stay for everything else. But what about the notorious queues?
Now, as a serious foodie, I’m not adverse to waiting my turn for a good bite to eat – but in London, where there is a plethora of restaurants spanning every cuisine, I feel as though queuing should be done sparingly.
So, as fabulous as Dishoom is, I thought I’d highlight a few other delicious Indian eateries in the city that are definitely worth a shout out. Whether you’re looking for a cosy ambience or to dine in luxury, there’s most certainly no shortage of exquisite Indian food in London.
So, without further ado, here are a selection of Indian restaurants in London to visit when you next dine out.
Located in the heart of Westfield London, this is the perfect destination for any tired shopper, in need to a tasty break from their retail endeavours. What I immediately loved about the menu at Copper Chimney was the division into curries, tandoori dishes and biriyanis – as well as the waiter’s insistance that I must try one of each. My type of waiter (any others reading this, please take note).
It should also be a rite of passage in Indian restaurants that guests should create their own mixed platter of starters. This is what I opted for and my eyes lit up when a variety of dishes holding delicious things such as yoghurt and cheese tikkis, green pea and potato samosas, carom-flavoured shrimp and poppadoms (with all the chutneys) arrived at my table. The waiter pulled up another table; I liked her even more.
The only dish from the starters section I didn’t fall in love with was the Delhi-fried chicken. Maybe it was overhyped to me, maybe it just wasn’t unique-tasting enough. It’s not bad by any standards but my tummy and my tastebuds much preferred the other appetisers.
Next to adorn our previously plain table were chargrilled chicken tikkas and lamb seekh kebabs – sizzling away in their impressive nature, accompanied by fresh and zesty dips. Representing the biriyanis was a spiced prawn and saffron special – and did it represent the rice dish well. Torn between my old friend butter chicken and the more interesting sounding dish of pickled chicken masala, our lovely waiter persuaded us to try the latter – and while I think butter chicken will never not be good in my books, the tartness of the chicken masala was a flavour I found exceedingly moreish (as I mopped up the pot with garlic and cheese naans).
If you have any room for dessert, the Gajar Pistachio Crumble (slow-cooked carrot cake with cardamom) is the perfect sweet finish – and don’t be shy about ordering from the cocktail menu as the sour whisky and mango went down a treat.
Step away from Central London and guess what – you’ll find the same array of delicious restaurants. Some may even be better. Pure Indian Cooking is such an example where you don’t need to fight the busy crowds and booked table reservations to eat well and be treated to delightful service. Husband and wife duo Faheem Vanoo and Shilpa Dandekar dominate both the front of house and chef sectors of this restaurant to ensure the perfect dining experience.
I’ve never once been disappointed by a sharing board of starters so that was the immediate choice for appetisers. Devouring treats such as tandoori paneer, chilli fried squid, malai tikka and seekh kebab was the perfect way to begin our meal – accompanied by the ‘Taste of Mumbai’, featuring a classic trio of bhel, pani poori and papdi chaat.
It was hard to bypass the lamb chops (a must-order for me at any Indian restaurant) but I spied the Telangana prawn masala and was instantly hooked. Cooked in ginger, curry leaves, chilli and tomatoes – sometimes it’s the simple dishes that make a solid impact. Craving another classic with a twist, I went rogue and opted for the pistachio chicken curry (I never normally order chicken when dining out, unless out for Persian food). Obviously the usual suspects chimed in in the form of side dishes – the dal makhani was fantastic; the pea and jeera pulao could have appeared and tasted a little more interesting but was tasty nonetheless and I will never say no to a butter naan.
I find myself choosing palate cleansers for dessert and the pistachio kulfi and mango sorbet just did that – along with a healthy glass of a mango margarita.
Walking under a ceiling of sparkling chandeliers, I thought to myself “this restaurant has got the decor right”. Impressive to all (and dare I say, perfect for the average Instagrammer!), it’s an instantly pleasing aesthetic to walk into at Colonel Saab.
I’m told I have to try the Andhra-style baby aubergine; served with curry leaf & tamarind sauce, it was the perfect mix of something sweet and light but with a tang. Paired with a more classic dish: paneer; the rich and creamy sauce was balanced by the former dish’s punchy bite. Memsaab’s chicken curry (so-named after the Colonel’s beloved wife) had to be ordered, almost as a rite of passage to the restaurant. I was glad to try the signature dish and could only fault it for being slightly bland for my personal taste – but I much preferred the Colonel’s butter chicken. Having hankered a craving for it, this dish hit the spot. I can’t say I lean too much toward a tomato-based curry or a cream-based one so I think, for me, it all depends on whichever I’m feeling most up for eating in the moment.
No Indian meal is complete without a flamboyant selection of chutneys, dals, naans, rotis, rice and the rest of the classic side crew – though Colonel Saab’s cumin potatoes made a strong, long-lasting impression on me, in particular. Though cheesecake is my favourite dessert period, it was the rasmalai milk cake that stole the show in a completely more-ish way. That cardamom cream – I’m still thinking about it.
Nestled just behind Marble Arch, Chourangi is a hidden gem within Central London. Now, there are undoubtedly classic dishes which no Indian restaurant’s menu can be without. However, when you cast your eyes on something like crackling spinach with almond slivers, it’s a nice change from bhel to snack on as you peruse the rest of the menu.
From tandoor, to large curry plates to biryanis – Chourangi is another Indian restaurant which appears to do it all. I pretty much selected my own tasting menu feast to appease my appetite and remove any ‘fomo’ of order regret. The tandoori tiger prawns were so tasty, flavoured with black peppercorns, ginger and yoghurt and served with a celery-mint-dill-coriander creation. Next up: the chilli paneer which had an enjoyable kick to it, while the steamed crab prawn parcels were an interesting choice and not something typically seen on a menu.
I was told I absolute had to try the Kosha Mangsho – slow-roasted Welsh lamb with yoghurt, green cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and mustard oil. The waiter had me at slow-roasted. An alternative but truly tasty choice, it complemented the chicken biryani we opted for nicely – with the rice being the perfect soaking-up substance for all that rich curry sauce. Of course naans were also used to mop up the vibrant amber-orange liquid, with the bread basket options alone were well deserving of applause.
Unable to stomach dessert at this restaurant but perfectly content with a full tummy and Tupperware to take home, I’d still call this dinner a success.