To coincide with the passing of the Holi Festival of Colour, The Resident picks out some of London’s finest Indian cuisine…
Holi is a Hindu spring festival originating from India and Nepal, and is also known as the festival of colours. The festival signifies the victory of good and the arrival of spring. What better time, then, to put a spring in your step with a celebratory reservation at one of London’s best Indian restaurants?
1 Chai Thali
New opening Chai Thali has brought Indian street food to a convivial 140-cover space. Tucked away on Mandela Street in Camden. it boasts a riotously flavoursome menu featuring kerb-side eats from across the continent – taking hungry diners on a journey from Old Delhi to Mumbai via the coast of Kerala. Grab a quick bite with a turmeric latte, or go the whole hog and order a feast to share between friends. Unusual offerings include Bombay roadside scrambled egg masala served with a buttered brioche bun and the famous South Indian dish ‘uttapam.’ To drink, try the Star Chaitini – a riff on the Porn Star Martini with vodka, passion fruit liqueur and Prosecco – or the Chai Spiced Mojito with star anise.
Centro 3, 19 Mandela Street, Camden NW1 0DU; 020 7383 2030
In the City’s Broadgate Circle, not too far from Shoreditch, lies Darbaar, where Indian dishes with a regal feel are based on those of the Maharajan court. It’s headed up by award-winning chef Abdul Yaseen, a former Head Chef at Cinnamon Kitchen and Anise and a founding member of the original Cinnamon Kitchen. His venture won Best Newcomer in 2016 at the British Curry Awards for its menu. Highlights include light bites such as stir fried shrimps with karelan spices, and grilled goodness such as tandoori salmon with kokum berries and coconut.
1 Snowden Street EC2A 2DQ; 020 7422 4100; darbaarrestaurants.com
After 90 years of serving high-quality Indian cuisine to curry-loving Londoners as the UK’s oldest Indian restaurant, Veeraswamy has finally gained a highly coveted Michelin star. This Mayfair establishment has welcomed royalty and elevated curry night to a fine art. According to The Resident’s food writer Alexander Larman, the lamb pasanda is ‘miles away from the mediocre curry house slop that shames the name’, and the Kerala prawn dish packs a fiery kick that does credit to its name.
Victory House, 99 Regent Street, Mayfair W1B 4EZ; 020 7734 1401; veeraswamy.com
No listicle of London’s top destinations for Indian spice would be complete without mention of Dishoom. It’s worth queuing to get a table at Dishoom, where street food inspired by the Irani cafes of Bombay is served amid a buzzy atmosphere where vintage decor meet upscale touches at Granary Square in Kings Cross, Carnaby Street, Covent Garden and Shoreditch. They also do breakfast – the egg naan roll is a winner.
Granary Square, 5 Stable Street, Kings Cross N1C 4AB; 020 7420 9321; dishoom.com
Kricket started life at Pop Brixton and such was the success of its clever concoctions that it has now opened up in a permanent Soho location. There’s pumpkin served with makhani sauce, fresh paneer, hazelnut crumble and puffed wild rice and kid goat raan. Drink-wise, you can gulp on Paxton IPA from south London’s London Beer Factory or Reliance Pale Ale from the Brixton Brewery.
12 Denman Street, Soho W1D 7HH; 020 7734 5612; kricket.co.uk
Benares restaurant in Mayfair’s Berkeley Square, from twice Michelin starred chef Atul Kochhar (the first Indian chef to receive a Michelin star) is definitely one to tick off the list. From the A La Carte menu, you can choose between dishes such as crispy Soft Shell crab and chickpeas with curry leaf and coconut with tamarind dressing or guinea fowl tikka with sweet and sour beetroot dressing.
12a Berkeley Square, Mayfair W1J 6BS; 020 7629 8886; benaresrestaurant.com
South east London institution Babur celebrated 30 years in 2015, and rightly so – its contemporary representations of India’s many cuisines have drawn much praise. Feast on gurkhali ostrich tikka and rabbit soweta in a cool, contemporary brick interior.
119 Brockley Rise, Forest Hill SE23 1JP; 020 8291 2400; babur.info
Karam Sethi opened Gymkhana in Mayfair back in 2013, and he’s won just about every food award going since, including a Michelin star. His innovative take on luxury Indian food is worth the hefty price tag that comes with it.
42 Albemarle Street, Mayfair W1S 4JH, 020 3011 5900; gymkhanalondon.com
Amaya in Belgravia offers a unique cuisine based on contemporary Indian food with a hint of the Orient. With a theatrical open grill kitchen, Amaya is, literally, one of London’s hottest restaurants. Menu highlights include a wild venison seekh kebab and duck tikka with tandoori plum chutney.
Halkin Arcade, 19 Motcomb Street, Belgravia SW1X 8LB; 020 7823 1166; amaya.biz
10 Cinnamon Kitchen
The chic, contemporary Cinnamon Kitchen is known for innovative Indian cooking influenced by classic British traditions right by Liverpool Street. Sample green spiced monkfish and sup on cocktails from the Anise Bar. Favourites include a Spiced Plum Saketini with Bombay Sapphire, plum wine, sake, galangal ginger served with lemon zest.
9 Devonshire Square, the City EC2M 4YL; 020 7626 5000; cinnamon-kitchen.com