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Niramish with puri at Darjeeling Express Ming Tang-Evans/Eater London

London’s Best Eastern Indian Restaurants

Bengali specialities, griddled flaky kati rolls, Desi-Chinese noodles, and more

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This is part three in a six-part series. Check out London’s best North Indian and Western Indian restaurants, too.

The first thing to know about London’s Eastern Indian restaurants is that… there are not many. The second, that ‘Eastern Indian’ should not be confused with ‘East Indian’, which is a Catholic community little known outside Mumbai. Eastern India, for the purposes of this map, is Western Bengal, specifically Kolkata (formerly Calcutta); the other regional cuisines of West Bengal, and indeed other states in Eastern India, are not currently found in London. More confusingly, although there are several restaurants with ‘Bengal’ in their name, they are not Bengali.

London’s first Indian restaurant, the Hindoostane Coffee House which opened near what’s now Portman Square in 1810, was owned by a Bengali Muslim named Sake Dean Mahomed from Patna in Eastern India — but it didn’t serve Bengali food.

So, then, London’s first West Bengali restaurant in living memory was Calcutta Notebook, set up by the late Udit Sarkhel in 2004. It was a marvellous place with an imaginative menu that served barely known dishes from around Eastern India, but it was so ahead of its time that it was short-lived.

Bengali food is influenced by British, Chinese, Portuguese, Mughlai, Persian, and other traditions. The Port of Kolkata is the oldest in India, so it became an entry point for not just the British, but also Hakka immigrants from China. They introduced Hakka Chinese food that was then adapted for Bengali tastes using local ingredients, leading to the creation of a unique Indian-Chinese cuisine that’s now massively popular throughout India — further tweaked with local flavour from one region to another. These ‘tangra’ dishes (named after a region in east Kolkata that boasts India’s first Chinatown) are found on most of London’s Bengali menus.

The city is also renowned for its street food, which includes kati rolls: parathas cooked with beaten eggs on one side, stuffed with spiced meat, chicken, vegetables or paneer, then rolled up tightly and served in a newspaper or greaseproof paper. They’re also found on most Bengali menus here, particularly in kati roll cafés and stalls entirely dedicated to selling them.

Bengali sweets are enormously famous, their intricacy almost on a par with French patisserie. It was the Portuguese who first introduced milk-based sweet making traditions that are so unique to the region — the starting point of which is curdling of milk that was previously taboo in a cow-worshipping country. So do leave room for mishti — and don’t miss the rare treat of rosogolla, payesh, mishti doi, and bhapa doi made fresh by Bengali chefs.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Posto

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383 Alexandra Ave
Harrow HA2 9EF, UK

Supperclub host and in-demand caterer Pritha Mukherjee, who once ran Kolkata Kitchen from her flat in north-west London, opened this hidden gem in Harrow almost a year ago. Named after the Bengali word for poppy seeds, it’s a smart place with beautifully folded white napkins and framed photos of Kolkata city scenes. There’s nuanced home-cooking to be found here: eggs cuddled under a thick duvet of white poppy seed paste; slow-cooked mutton kosha; raw green jackfruit with raisins and spices; and delicate rohu fish curry. Also not to be missed are toasted cashew-studded beetroot chops served with a zig-zag of aam kasundi made from raw green mangoes and mustard paste; Bengali aloo dum with pillowy discs of green pea kochuri; and cholar (chana) dal with coconut pieces, as sweet and as complex in its simplicity as the sentiments evoked by a Rabindranath Tagore tale.

London’s best Indian restaurants for Eastern Indian food include Posto Sejal Sukhadwala

2. Hakkaland

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364-366 Station Rd
Harrow HA1 2DE, UK

Chef Steven Lee’s Indian-Chinese in Harrow is enveloped in a warm orange glow — partly it’s the colour of the walls, partly the buzz created by locals who regularly flock to the place. He’s originally from Kolkata, and worked in Mumbai’s legendary China Garden before moving to London and cooking at Dalchini in Wimbledon, well-regarded and ground-breaking in its early days. The menu is massive, so not everything comes off — the classic gobi manchurian is disappointing, for instance — but among the more successful dishes are the exquisitely moreish okra with salt and pepper, 1960s-style chilli chicken fiery with green chillies, tender tilapia steamed with soy sauce and ginger, and beef stir-fried with water chestnuts and dried red chillies. Wall-mounted TVs broadcast Lee’s cooking tips, alongside pictures of Indian celebs who’ve visited the restaurant and the press coverage it’s had in India.

London’s best Indian restaurants for Eastern Indian food include Hakkaland Sejal Sukhadwala

3. Kolkati

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Kolkati, KERB Camden Market, West Yard, Camden Lock Pl, Camden Town
London NW1 8AF, UK

This Camden Market stall selling kathi rolls could easily win ‘shortest menu in London’ award: it sells just kathi rolls stuffed with either chicken or paneer, with or without fries. The rolls are made from rich, thick, flaky paratha, smeared with optional cooked egg on one side; and the fillings are generous, mildly spiced, and a little sweet, offset by the mild acidity of lightly pickled onions and the verdant freshness of coriander leaves. Grab a nearby bench and enjoy them with perhaps a few burger-eating strangers in a ‘my sandwich is better than your sandwich’ kinda way.

Kati rolls at Kolkati Kolkati [Official Photo]

4. The Kati Roll Company

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24 Poland St, Soho
London W1F 8QL, UK

Not all Indian cinema is Bollywood, so Hindi movie poster art splashed all over the cheery saffron-hued walls of this kathi roll café is somewhat at odds with the Bengali food and mood. Satyajit Ray would have been a better choice… Though that would have made for somewhat gloomier ambience. It’s a surprise this Bengali-owned, New York-based chain hasn’t turned into a London chain yet, packed as it is with Indians (and non-Indians) of every age and background. The tightly wrapped paratha rolls are as slim as fat cigars, stuffed with judiciously spiced fillings ranging from potatoes and eggs, to shrimp, and mutton. Try a selection of two or three, along with mishti doi lassi, the classic Bengali dessert of yoghurt and date palm jaggery that’s here been turned into a drink. An amped-up sandwich and a drinkable dessert is the secret to a good life.

London’s best Indian restaurants for Eastern Indian food include Kati Roll Sejal Sukhadwala

5. Fatt Pundit

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77 Berwick St, Soho
London W1F 8TH, UK

A fat pundit may be any rotund scholar, from Buddha to Birbal — but here combining the common Chinese surname Fatt with the Indian word pundit offers a clue to what the restaurant is about: yes, it’s Indian-Chinese. More specifically, it’s Kolkata-Chinese — different from Mumbai-Chinese in that the food is less masala-fied and chilli-fied than the latter. The narrow room makes the place look smaller than it is (there’s more seating in the basement), with a massive steamer in the bar heating up momos continuously. They’re pretty as jewels and beautifully pleated; and the rest of the menu also impresses with no ready-made ‘Chinese’ sauces clinging to everything like in some inferior Indian-Chinese restaurants. There’s soft chilli paneer on lettuce leaves, hakka noodles crunchy with white cabbage, wok-fried crab meat with sweetcorn, and two chicken classics: manchurian and lollipop, all of it aglow with the gentlest of chilli heats, and a garden full of spring onions.  

6. Little Kolkata

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51-53 Shelton St, Covent Garden
London WC2H 9JU, UK

Despite its contemporary look of wall-mounted cushions, canteen-style wooden seating and a glossy bar, it’s the retro black-and-white chequerboard tiles that draw attention. They’re reminiscent of early 20th century Indian rooms in which Bengali babus would gather together for an adda, switching easily between Shakespearean and Marxist discourse. Located in a Covent Garden backstreet, this new venue is owned by former supperclub hosts Prabir Kumar Chattopadhyay and Biswajit Deb Das. Jhalmuri — Bengal’s answer to bhel puri — is tangy with tamarind, tart with green mangoes, and pungent with mustard oil, perked up by the crunchy bite of peanuts and popped rice. Aubergine fillets come draped in mustard sauce with a side gig of black chickpeas and tomato-red chilli chutney. Minced lamb khichuri is comforting as a grandma’s hug; and cod fishcake comes with kasundi — the classic Bengali mustard relish that’s the current darling of Indian and non-Indian chefs in London. 

London’s best Indian restaurants for Eastern Indian food include Little Kolkata Sejal Sukhadwala

7. Darjeeling Express

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2a Garrick St
London WC2E 9BH, UK

Asma Khan’s famed Covent Garden restaurant is not generally thought of — or promoted — as Bengali as such. Reflecting her own complex heritage, it combines the everyday and festive fare of Bengali and Hyderabadi Mughlai traditions, along with the classic street food of Kolkata. The short menu showcases the different facets of Bengali home cooking, with many dishes so influential they’ve started appearing in non-Bengali restaurants: among them, tangra chilli-garlic prawns, Bihari lentil phulki, goat kosha mangsho, prawn malaikari, and beetroot chops. The flavours are like a culinary orchestra: one minute, the subtle sweetness of coconut-accented gravy; then the surprising bitterness of fenugreek seeds; a high note of chillies, followed by a crescendo of peanut-enriched sauce. Balloons of soft pooris hot from the frying pan are not to be missed — a true labour of love by the all-female kitchen team that sums up the restaurant perfectly.

Darjeeling Express’s biryani by Chef’s Table star and London chef Asma Khan Big Night [Official Photo]

1. Posto

383 Alexandra Ave, Harrow HA2 9EF, UK
London’s best Indian restaurants for Eastern Indian food include Posto Sejal Sukhadwala

Supperclub host and in-demand caterer Pritha Mukherjee, who once ran Kolkata Kitchen from her flat in north-west London, opened this hidden gem in Harrow almost a year ago. Named after the Bengali word for poppy seeds, it’s a smart place with beautifully folded white napkins and framed photos of Kolkata city scenes. There’s nuanced home-cooking to be found here: eggs cuddled under a thick duvet of white poppy seed paste; slow-cooked mutton kosha; raw green jackfruit with raisins and spices; and delicate rohu fish curry. Also not to be missed are toasted cashew-studded beetroot chops served with a zig-zag of aam kasundi made from raw green mangoes and mustard paste; Bengali aloo dum with pillowy discs of green pea kochuri; and cholar (chana) dal with coconut pieces, as sweet and as complex in its simplicity as the sentiments evoked by a Rabindranath Tagore tale.

383 Alexandra Ave
Harrow HA2 9EF, UK

2. Hakkaland

364-366 Station Rd, Harrow HA1 2DE, UK
London’s best Indian restaurants for Eastern Indian food include Hakkaland Sejal Sukhadwala

Chef Steven Lee’s Indian-Chinese in Harrow is enveloped in a warm orange glow — partly it’s the colour of the walls, partly the buzz created by locals who regularly flock to the place. He’s originally from Kolkata, and worked in Mumbai’s legendary China Garden before moving to London and cooking at Dalchini in Wimbledon, well-regarded and ground-breaking in its early days. The menu is massive, so not everything comes off — the classic gobi manchurian is disappointing, for instance — but among the more successful dishes are the exquisitely moreish okra with salt and pepper, 1960s-style chilli chicken fiery with green chillies, tender tilapia steamed with soy sauce and ginger, and beef stir-fried with water chestnuts and dried red chillies. Wall-mounted TVs broadcast Lee’s cooking tips, alongside pictures of Indian celebs who’ve visited the restaurant and the press coverage it’s had in India.

364-366 Station Rd
Harrow HA1 2DE, UK

3. Kolkati

Kolkati, KERB Camden Market, West Yard, Camden Lock Pl, Camden Town, London NW1 8AF, UK
Kati rolls at Kolkati Kolkati [Official Photo]

This Camden Market stall selling kathi rolls could easily win ‘shortest menu in London’ award: it sells just kathi rolls stuffed with either chicken or paneer, with or without fries. The rolls are made from rich, thick, flaky paratha, smeared with optional cooked egg on one side; and the fillings are generous, mildly spiced, and a little sweet, offset by the mild acidity of lightly pickled onions and the verdant freshness of coriander leaves. Grab a nearby bench and enjoy them with perhaps a few burger-eating strangers in a ‘my sandwich is better than your sandwich’ kinda way.

Kolkati, KERB Camden Market, West Yard, Camden Lock Pl, Camden Town
London NW1 8AF, UK

4. The Kati Roll Company

24 Poland St, Soho, London W1F 8QL, UK
London’s best Indian restaurants for Eastern Indian food include Kati Roll Sejal Sukhadwala

Not all Indian cinema is Bollywood, so Hindi movie poster art splashed all over the cheery saffron-hued walls of this kathi roll café is somewhat at odds with the Bengali food and mood. Satyajit Ray would have been a better choice… Though that would have made for somewhat gloomier ambience. It’s a surprise this Bengali-owned, New York-based chain hasn’t turned into a London chain yet, packed as it is with Indians (and non-Indians) of every age and background. The tightly wrapped paratha rolls are as slim as fat cigars, stuffed with judiciously spiced fillings ranging from potatoes and eggs, to shrimp, and mutton. Try a selection of two or three, along with mishti doi lassi, the classic Bengali dessert of yoghurt and date palm jaggery that’s here been turned into a drink. An amped-up sandwich and a drinkable dessert is the secret to a good life.

24 Poland St, Soho
London W1F 8QL, UK

5. Fatt Pundit

77 Berwick St, Soho, London W1F 8TH, UK

A fat pundit may be any rotund scholar, from Buddha to Birbal — but here combining the common Chinese surname Fatt with the Indian word pundit offers a clue to what the restaurant is about: yes, it’s Indian-Chinese. More specifically, it’s Kolkata-Chinese — different from Mumbai-Chinese in that the food is less masala-fied and chilli-fied than the latter. The narrow room makes the place look smaller than it is (there’s more seating in the basement), with a massive steamer in the bar heating up momos continuously. They’re pretty as jewels and beautifully pleated; and the rest of the menu also impresses with no ready-made ‘Chinese’ sauces clinging to everything like in some inferior Indian-Chinese restaurants. There’s soft chilli paneer on lettuce leaves, hakka noodles crunchy with white cabbage, wok-fried crab meat with sweetcorn, and two chicken classics: manchurian and lollipop, all of it aglow with the gentlest of chilli heats, and a garden full of spring onions.  

77 Berwick St, Soho
London W1F 8TH, UK

6. Little Kolkata

51-53 Shelton St, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9JU, UK
London’s best Indian restaurants for Eastern Indian food include Little Kolkata Sejal Sukhadwala

Despite its contemporary look of wall-mounted cushions, canteen-style wooden seating and a glossy bar, it’s the retro black-and-white chequerboard tiles that draw attention. They’re reminiscent of early 20th century Indian rooms in which Bengali babus would gather together for an adda, switching easily between Shakespearean and Marxist discourse. Located in a Covent Garden backstreet, this new venue is owned by former supperclub hosts Prabir Kumar Chattopadhyay and Biswajit Deb Das. Jhalmuri — Bengal’s answer to bhel puri — is tangy with tamarind, tart with green mangoes, and pungent with mustard oil, perked up by the crunchy bite of peanuts and popped rice. Aubergine fillets come draped in mustard sauce with a side gig of black chickpeas and tomato-red chilli chutney. Minced lamb khichuri is comforting as a grandma’s hug; and cod fishcake comes with kasundi — the classic Bengali mustard relish that’s the current darling of Indian and non-Indian chefs in London. 

51-53 Shelton St, Covent Garden
London WC2H 9JU, UK

7. Darjeeling Express

2a Garrick St, London WC2E 9BH, UK
Darjeeling Express’s biryani by Chef’s Table star and London chef Asma Khan Big Night [Official Photo]

Asma Khan’s famed Covent Garden restaurant is not generally thought of — or promoted — as Bengali as such. Reflecting her own complex heritage, it combines the everyday and festive fare of Bengali and Hyderabadi Mughlai traditions, along with the classic street food of Kolkata. The short menu showcases the different facets of Bengali home cooking, with many dishes so influential they’ve started appearing in non-Bengali restaurants: among them, tangra chilli-garlic prawns, Bihari lentil phulki, goat kosha mangsho, prawn malaikari, and beetroot chops. The flavours are like a culinary orchestra: one minute, the subtle sweetness of coconut-accented gravy; then the surprising bitterness of fenugreek seeds; a high note of chillies, followed by a crescendo of peanut-enriched sauce. Balloons of soft pooris hot from the frying pan are not to be missed — a true labour of love by the all-female kitchen team that sums up the restaurant perfectly.

2a Garrick St
London WC2E 9BH, UK

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