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Brigadiers in the City is one of the best Indian restaurants in London
Brigadiers in the City
Tomas Jivanda/Eater London

The Best Indian Restaurants in London

Dishes with a sense of place, regional specialities, and more

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Brigadiers in the City
| Tomas Jivanda/Eater London

London has a thrilling and rapidly evolving Indian restaurant scene — but many visitors play safe and only stick to the places they know: Dishoom, Veeraswamy, and Gymkhana — an exquisite venue that’s been left off this list simply because it’s so widely visited.

Most restaurants serve a generic menu of chaats, what can be loosely termed as ‘Punjabi’ food, South Indian dosas, and Indian-Chinese dishes because that’s what the majority of diners want and expect. However, the best way to enjoy an Indian restaurant is with a sense of adventure. Always make a point of finding out which region’s food it specialises in, where the chefs and owners are from, and what their signature dishes are. Give the familiar fare a miss and try something new — there’s much more to Indian food than curries.

These are London’s most exciting Indian restaurants right now, in which chicken tikka may be replaced with chingri macher, and samosas swapped with sabudana vada.

Note: It was important to get to grips with the exciting and constantly evolving Indian dining scene, to take its current temperature, and find answers to questions such as: are Southall and Wembley the best places to eat Indian; and why are Modern Indian venues opening at such a rapid rate? The formulation of this guide has taken over 18 months, with visits and re-visits to around 150 restaurants.

This final part is about the best of the best regional and Modern Indian chosen from all five instalments: food is essentially the starting point, but service, ambience and overall experience have also been taken into account.

Check out London’s best North Indian, Western Indian, Eastern Indian, Southern Indian, and Modern Indian restaurants, too.

London’s restaurants, pubs, cafes, and bars reopen for indoor service from 17 May, with the rule of six in place. Customers can check with individual venues to determine their availability and Covid-secure measures before deciding to visit.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Madhu's

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39 South Rd
Southall UB1 1SW, UK

This smart two-floor Southall venue is all clean lines and glossy surfaces. It’s been around for four decades — opened by the then 16- and 17-year-old siblings, Sanjeev and Sanjay Anand, whose grandfather Bishan Das Anand founded the well-regarded Brilliant Hotel in Nairobi. Madhu’s was their father Jagdish Kumar’s nickname; and in the early days, their mother Krishna Kumari was the head chef. Kenyan influences abound in dishes such as yoghurt-marinated baby poussin, and tender lamb ribs laminated with chilli and lemon. Fresh coriander-flecked pakoras in fennel-flavoured yoghurt kadhi, slender aubergines on a stem with baby potatoes, and butter chicken made to an old family recipe are among the most popular dishes. Cauliflower with fenugreek leaves is as good as what might be found in a Punjabi home kitchen; and dal makhani quietly trumps flashier versions found elsewhere. Don’t miss Punjabi samosas made with beautifully flaky ‘khasta’ pastry.

A range of dishes at Madhu’s, one of the best north Indian restaurants in London
A range of dishes at Madhu’s
Madhu’s [Official Photo]

2. 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
Posto
Sejal Sukhadwala

3. Shree Krishna Vada Pav

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121 High St
Hounslow TW3 1QL, UK

This simple Maharashtrian vegetarian snack bar has expanded into a chain across west and north London — but the original in Hounslow is by far the best. Yes, the vada pav is very good, cushioned into lively red chilli, coconut, and garlic chutney-smeared, correctly trashy white bread rolls — but misal pav that’s the main draw. One of the most famous Maharashtrian dishes with countless regional variations, it’s rarely found elsewhere in London. Here, the sprouted bean stew comes in a vibrant red chilli rassa (gravy) fragrant with goda masala (black spice mix), topped with farsan (thick sev) and more of those bread rolls. Other classics include ‘coriander sticks’ or kothimbir vadi made from masses of fresh coriander and chickpea flour, sabudana vada (tapioca and potato patties), sabudana khichdi (similar, but in the form of a scramble), and poha (rice flakes with potatoes). To drink, there’s ‘cutting chai’ — Mumbai’s famous ‘half cup of tea’.

Shree Krishna Vada Pav in west London
Shree Krishna Vada Pav
Shree Krishna Vada Pav [Official Photo]

4. Asher's Africana Restaurant Wembley

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224 Ealing Rd
Wembley HA0 4QL, UK

This simple, neat vegetarian café in Wembley is owned by a Gujarati family from Africa — though there are few African influences on the cooking; the food being exactly like a grandma’s kitchen in Gujarat. The thalis — which is what everyone comes here for — include vegetable shaaks such as aubergine and spinach, or cauliflower with peas and potatoes; sweet-sour Gujarati dal or kadhi; assorted flatbreads, and rustic items like khichdi and bajri rotla (pearl millet flatbreads). Everything is demurely spiced and understated, nourishing and comforting. Every single dish is continually cooked from scratch by a team of older Gujarati women; and their warm and generous hospitality and delicious food attracts hordes of bachelors, students, and elderly people hankering after a taste of home. This is the sort of old-school fare that’s disappearing from the homes of Gujaratis, both in the U.K. and India.

Sejal Sukhadwala / Eater London

5. Dastaan

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447 Kingston Rd
Epsom KT19 0DB, UK

Ex-Gymkhana chefs Nand Kishor and Sanjay Gour’s cosy, contemporary, colourful North Indian in Epsom is extraordinarily popular, and it’s easy to see why: the reassuringly short menu is filled with very well-executed dishes such as guinea fowl and chicken seekh kabab with apple murabba, and lamb chops enlivened by kasundi mustard relish. Streaked with green, spinach, potato, and onion pakoras don’t just look pretty, they’re freshly fried and not the hard, overcooked ‘double fried’ lumps found in inferior places. There’s more greenery in fragrant vegetable biryani, generously packed with asparagus, peas and Jerusalem artichokes — a combination that works surprisingly well, especially with the crunch of plentiful fried onions.

Tirangi tikka at Dastaan, one of the best Indian restaurants in London
Tirangi tikka at Dastaan
Dastaan/Facebook

6. Sagar

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157 King St, Hammersmith
London W6 9JT, UK

Most Londoners mispronounce the name of this popular London-origin mini-chain as ‘say-gaar’ — in fact, it’s ‘saa-gar’, which means ocean. It’s one of the few South Indian restaurants to showcase the simple vegetarian food of Udupi in Karnatka, centred on fresh vegetables, beans, and grains. The elegantly austere Hammersmith branch is the original and by far the best. Opt for the generous Udupi thali, which comes with various dals and lentil broths, and a regularly-changing selection of vegetables that may include crushed potatoes with a tempering of urad lentils and curry leaves, a side vegetable that might include shredded white cabbage with carrots, or ivy gourd or swede, and chayote cooked in a mellow yoghurt and coconut gravy fired up with green chillies. The flavours are gentle and nuanced, in keeping with the confidently understated look and mood of the place.

Udupi thali at Sagar in Hammersmith, one of the best Indian restaurants in London
Udupi thali at Sagar
Sejal Sukhadwala

7. Kutir

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10 Lincoln St, Chelsea
London SW3 2TS, UK

One of London’s best-known Indian chefs Rohit Ghai opened this impressive venue at the end of 2018, replacing was once another famous Modern Indian: Vineet Bhatia’s Rasoi (and later VBL). Alluding to themes of countryside, wildlife, and game hunting, Kutir means ‘a small cottage with thatched roof in the middle of a forest’ — a description somewhat at odds with the chintzy townhouse location in Chelsea, its elaborately printed wallpaper, heavy gilded mirrors, and artfully painted tiles. Any presuppositions are turned on their head when Gujarati dhokla arrive with apple slices and an entourage of salad leaves, a combination that works magnificently; and deep, dark venison cooked in mustard oil is paired with a decoratively scrunched-up paratha. Kashmiri lamb rogan josh, with an intriguing back note of stone flower spice, is served with Bihari-style mashed purple potato chokha; and jackfruit kofta startles with a tomato-onion sauce of a breathtaking depth of flavour.

Sejal Sukhadwala / Eater London

8. Trishna

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15-17 Blandford St, Marylebone
London W1U 3DG, UK

Understated in its elegance, this cosy two-room Modern Indian in Marylebone is owned by the same team as Brigadiers (and the temporarily closed Gymkhana): the renowned JKS restaurant group helmed by siblings Jyotin, Karam, and Sunaina Sethi. Here there are contemporary interpretations of coastal cuisines — including speciality dishes of the fishing communities — from India’s western coast that stretches from Maharashtra and Goa down to Karnataka and Kerala. This includes Karnataka-style aubergines and lemon rice laced with fresh coconut, mustard seeds, curry leaves, dried red chillies, raw green mangoes, tamarind, and chana dal (used as a spice). Despite not being connected to the famous fish restaurant of the same name in Mumbai, seafood is very much a speciality here — the highlight being seafood paniyaram: mini muffin-like rice and split urad lentil ‘pancake’ puffs, studded with prawns and scallops, offset by the mild sweetness of accompanying crab chutney.

Lotus root at London tasting menu restaurant Trishna, one of the best Indian restaurants in London
Lotus root at Trishna
Trishna [Official Photo]

9. Lucknow 49

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49 Maddox St, Mayfair
London W1S 2PQ, UK

The second venue from restaurateur Dhruv Mittal, this Mayfair gem is the only place in London that currently serves Lucknow’s Awadhi food; its homely décor of block-print fabrics and flower garlands somewhat at odds with the elegant flavours. The tale of the toothless nawab for whom they were invented may be apocryphal, but galawat kababs — lamb patties with the texture between pâtè and mousse – are pure, skilfully cooked joy. Taar gosht is rarely seen outside Lucknow: here the lamb legs are slow-cooked in trotter stock for hours and flavoured with a full artist’s palette of several dozen spices. Dal makhani here is made from whole green moong beans simmered in milk, and has a sweeter, brighter taste. Proper Awadhi biryani, less spicy and more perfumed than other varieties, is a rare find; as is layered, puffy gilafi kulcha. Many restaurants claim to serve Mughlai food; this is the real thing.

Sejal Sukhadwala / Eater London

10. The Cinnamon Club

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The Old Westminster Library, Great Smith St, Westminster
London SW1P 3BU, UK

Iqbal Wahhab launched this upscale Indian in 2001, but it wasn’t long before he parted company; and now it’s very much executive chef Vivek Singh’s baby. It’s located in a magnificent Grade II listed building of the former Westminster Library, a large space with two bars set over two floors. The book-lined dining room has a cinematic feel, with bright white walls, bright white tablecloths and bright lights. The former gentlemen’s club décor, beloved of the MPs who regularly dine here, has given way to lighter space that makes diners feel like they’re in a movie. ‘Bombay-style vegetables’ with truffled pao and jerusalem artichoke crisps is essentially pao bhaji with a culinary college education. The restaurant is famous for game and fish dishes, such as lobster with kokum dip and dried shrimp chutney; and tandoori venison loin with fenugreek and robust black stone flower reduction. The spicing is spirited, and the sheer variety of speciality ingredients and techniques is dazzling.

11. Darjeeling Express

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2a Garrick St
London WC2E 9BH, UK

Asma Khan’s famed restaurant, now located in bigger premises in Covent Garden, 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 and festival 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 this restaurant perfectly.

Puri at Darjeeling Express, on a black platter and a pink and navy background Ming Tang-Evans/Eater London

12. Brigadiers

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1-5 Bloomberg Arcade
London EC4N 8AR, UK

Probably the best place to eat and drink in the City’s renowned Bloomberg Arcade, this smart sports bar is inspired by Indian army mess bars popular with military regiments — but also has the good looks, shiny surfaces, and sturdy furniture of classic British gentlemen’s clubs. Like other Indian pubs and bars, the emphasis is on kababs, chops, chaats, sandwiches, and barbecue dishes that are handy to pick up and eat while eyes are focused on the screen. Glazed puff pastries filled with gorgeously spiced guinea fowl come with fragrant green chutney for dipping; and a chaat of lotus root slices and puffed lotus seeds balances the tangy with the savoury. Mashed aubergines with toasted sweetcorn on miniature Rajasthani chickpea flour flatbreads have a deep smokiness that doesn’t overpower the spicing; and lamb kababs are juicy and properly charred on all sides. This is superlative snacking.

Butter chicken wings at Brigadiers, at the Bloomberg Arcade in the City — a restaurant by JKS, which runs Michelin-starred Trishna and Gymkhana, as well as Hoppers.
Butter chicken wings at Brigadiers
Tomas Jivanda/for Eater London

13. Udaya Kerala Restaurant

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105 Katherine Rd, East Ham
London E6 1ES, UK

Located parallel to the main drag of the High Street in East Ham, this Kerala restaurant is superior to even the best South Indian restaurants in the area. It’s a neat, cosy place festooned with ornaments and paintings, including a striking nettipattam: a decorative shield used as an adornment for the trunks of elephants. Chicken 65 (with or without bone, a dish which originated in Chennai) and gobi 65, delicately spiced with cardamom and black pepper, are some of the tastiest versions found in London. Seafood is very much a strong point here, with lively spicing found in crab fry and squid curry. Fresh spices flown in from Kerala perk up a complex black chickpea curry, eaten with mashed cassava root that should be rolled into balls with fingers. Egg roast features whole, shallow-fried boiled eggs in a pool of thick gravy studded with dried red chillies, with crunchy cabbage thoran making an excellent foil. Don’t miss the lacy doilies of appams, spongy in the middle and crisp around the edges — better here than other restaurants in the area.

Sejal Sukhadwala / Eater London

14. Hyderabadi Spice

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309 High St N, Manor Park
London E12 6SL, UK

One of the very few venues in London to showcase the exquisitely complex cuisine of Hyderabad, this small, modest-looking East Ham café attracts large family crowds, so be prepared to wait. There are many classics from the region, such as nizami gosht, kuska bagara, and haleem — but the one thing everyone comes here for is the generously portioned, excellent-value biryani. It more than lives up to expectations: cooked dum style, but served without the theatrics of a pastry lid, the golden grains of rice are generously studded with beautifully spiced lamb, chicken, seafood, whole boiled eggs, or vegetables, then topped with a tangle of crisp caramelised onions. This is also one of the few places to find khubani ka meetha, a classic pudding of stewed dried apricots and apricot kernels steeped (here very deeply) in cream; and ‘Irani chai’, a strong, slow-brewed Persian tea made with reduced milk solids ubiquitous in Hyderabad, but not widely available in London. 

Biryani, cooked dum style, at Hyderabadi Spice — one of the best Indian restaurants in London
Biryani, cooked dum style
Sejal Sukhadwala

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1. Madhu's

39 South Rd, Southall UB1 1SW, UK
A range of dishes at Madhu’s, one of the best north Indian restaurants in London
A range of dishes at Madhu’s
Madhu’s [Official Photo]

This smart two-floor Southall venue is all clean lines and glossy surfaces. It’s been around for four decades — opened by the then 16- and 17-year-old siblings, Sanjeev and Sanjay Anand, whose grandfather Bishan Das Anand founded the well-regarded Brilliant Hotel in Nairobi. Madhu’s was their father Jagdish Kumar’s nickname; and in the early days, their mother Krishna Kumari was the head chef. Kenyan influences abound in dishes such as yoghurt-marinated baby poussin, and tender lamb ribs laminated with chilli and lemon. Fresh coriander-flecked pakoras in fennel-flavoured yoghurt kadhi, slender aubergines on a stem with baby potatoes, and butter chicken made to an old family recipe are among the most popular dishes. Cauliflower with fenugreek leaves is as good as what might be found in a Punjabi home kitchen; and dal makhani quietly trumps flashier versions found elsewhere. Don’t miss Punjabi samosas made with beautifully flaky ‘khasta’ pastry.

39 South Rd
Southall UB1 1SW, UK

2. Posto

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

3. Shree Krishna Vada Pav

121 High St, Hounslow TW3 1QL, UK
Shree Krishna Vada Pav in west London
Shree Krishna Vada Pav
Shree Krishna Vada Pav [Official Photo]

This simple Maharashtrian vegetarian snack bar has expanded into a chain across west and north London — but the original in Hounslow is by far the best. Yes, the vada pav is very good, cushioned into lively red chilli, coconut, and garlic chutney-smeared, correctly trashy white bread rolls — but misal pav that’s the main draw. One of the most famous Maharashtrian dishes with countless regional variations, it’s rarely found elsewhere in London. Here, the sprouted bean stew comes in a vibrant red chilli rassa (gravy) fragrant with goda masala (black spice mix), topped with farsan (thick sev) and more of those bread rolls. Other classics include ‘coriander sticks’ or kothimbir vadi made from masses of fresh coriander and chickpea flour, sabudana vada (tapioca and potato patties), sabudana khichdi (similar, but in the form of a scramble), and poha (rice flakes with potatoes). To drink, there’s ‘cutting chai’ — Mumbai’s famous ‘half cup of tea’.

121 High St
Hounslow TW3 1QL, UK

4. Asher's Africana Restaurant Wembley

224 Ealing Rd, Wembley HA0 4QL, UK
Sejal Sukhadwala / Eater London

This simple, neat vegetarian café in Wembley is owned by a Gujarati family from Africa — though there are few African influences on the cooking; the food being exactly like a grandma’s kitchen in Gujarat. The thalis — which is what everyone comes here for — include vegetable shaaks such as aubergine and spinach, or cauliflower with peas and potatoes; sweet-sour Gujarati dal or kadhi; assorted flatbreads, and rustic items like khichdi and bajri rotla (pearl millet flatbreads). Everything is demurely spiced and understated, nourishing and comforting. Every single dish is continually cooked from scratch by a team of older Gujarati women; and their warm and generous hospitality and delicious food attracts hordes of bachelors, students, and elderly people hankering after a taste of home. This is the sort of old-school fare that’s disappearing from the homes of Gujaratis, both in the U.K. and India.

224 Ealing Rd
Wembley HA0 4QL, UK

5. Dastaan

447 Kingston Rd, Epsom KT19 0DB, UK
Tirangi tikka at Dastaan, one of the best Indian restaurants in London
Tirangi tikka at Dastaan
Dastaan/Facebook

Ex-Gymkhana chefs Nand Kishor and Sanjay Gour’s cosy, contemporary, colourful North Indian in Epsom is extraordinarily popular, and it’s easy to see why: the reassuringly short menu is filled with very well-executed dishes such as guinea fowl and chicken seekh kabab with apple murabba, and lamb chops enlivened by kasundi mustard relish. Streaked with green, spinach, potato, and onion pakoras don’t just look pretty, they’re freshly fried and not the hard, overcooked ‘double fried’ lumps found in inferior places. There’s more greenery in fragrant vegetable biryani, generously packed with asparagus, peas and Jerusalem artichokes — a combination that works surprisingly well, especially with the crunch of plentiful fried onions.

447 Kingston Rd
Epsom KT19 0DB, UK

6. Sagar

157 King St, Hammersmith, London W6 9JT, UK
Udupi thali at Sagar in Hammersmith, one of the best Indian restaurants in London
Udupi thali at Sagar
Sejal Sukhadwala

Most Londoners mispronounce the name of this popular London-origin mini-chain as ‘say-gaar’ — in fact, it’s ‘saa-gar’, which means ocean. It’s one of the few South Indian restaurants to showcase the simple vegetarian food of Udupi in Karnatka, centred on fresh vegetables, beans, and grains. The elegantly austere Hammersmith branch is the original and by far the best. Opt for the generous Udupi thali, which comes with various dals and lentil broths, and a regularly-changing selection of vegetables that may include crushed potatoes with a tempering of urad lentils and curry leaves, a side vegetable that might include shredded white cabbage with carrots, or ivy gourd or swede, and chayote cooked in a mellow yoghurt and coconut gravy fired up with green chillies. The flavours are gentle and nuanced, in keeping with the confidently understated look and mood of the place.

157 King St, Hammersmith
London W6 9JT, UK

7. Kutir

10 Lincoln St, Chelsea, London SW3 2TS, UK
Sejal Sukhadwala / Eater London

One of London’s best-known Indian chefs Rohit Ghai opened this impressive venue at the end of 2018, replacing was once another famous Modern Indian: Vineet Bhatia’s Rasoi (and later VBL). Alluding to themes of countryside, wildlife, and game hunting, Kutir means ‘a small cottage with thatched roof in the middle of a forest’ — a description somewhat at odds with the chintzy townhouse location in Chelsea, its elaborately printed wallpaper, heavy gilded mirrors, and artfully painted tiles. Any presuppositions are turned on their head when Gujarati dhokla arrive with apple slices and an entourage of salad leaves, a combination that works magnificently; and deep, dark venison cooked in mustard oil is paired with a decoratively scrunched-up paratha. Kashmiri lamb rogan josh, with an intriguing back note of stone flower spice, is served with Bihari-style mashed purple potato chokha; and jackfruit kofta startles with a tomato-onion sauce of a breathtaking depth of flavour.

10 Lincoln St, Chelsea
London SW3 2TS, UK

8. Trishna

15-17 Blandford St, Marylebone, London W1U 3DG, UK
Lotus root at London tasting menu restaurant Trishna, one of the best Indian restaurants in London
Lotus root at Trishna
Trishna [Official Photo]

Understated in its elegance, this cosy two-room Modern Indian in Marylebone is owned by the same team as Brigadiers (and the temporarily closed Gymkhana): the renowned JKS restaurant group helmed by siblings Jyotin, Karam, and Sunaina Sethi. Here there are contemporary interpretations of coastal cuisines — including speciality dishes of the fishing communities — from India’s western coast that stretches from Maharashtra and Goa down to Karnataka and Kerala. This includes Karnataka-style aubergines and lemon rice laced with fresh coconut, mustard seeds, curry leaves, dried red chillies, raw green mangoes, tamarind, and chana dal (used as a spice). Despite not being connected to the famous fish restaurant of the same name in Mumbai, seafood is very much a speciality here — the highlight being seafood paniyaram: mini muffin-like rice and split urad lentil ‘pancake’ puffs, studded with prawns and scallops, offset by the mild sweetness of accompanying crab chutney.

15-17 Blandford St, Marylebone
London W1U 3DG, UK

9. Lucknow 49

49 Maddox St, Mayfair, London W1S 2PQ, UK
Sejal Sukhadwala / Eater London

The second venue from restaurateur Dhruv Mittal, this Mayfair gem is the only place in London that currently serves Lucknow’s Awadhi food; its homely décor of block-print fabrics and flower garlands somewhat at odds with the elegant flavours. The tale of the toothless nawab for whom they were invented may be apocryphal, but galawat kababs — lamb patties with the texture between pâtè and mousse – are pure, skilfully cooked joy. Taar gosht is rarely seen outside Lucknow: here the lamb legs are slow-cooked in trotter stock for hours and flavoured with a full artist’s palette of several dozen spices. Dal makhani here is made from whole green moong beans simmered in milk, and has a sweeter, brighter taste. Proper Awadhi biryani, less spicy and more perfumed than other varieties, is a rare find; as is layered, puffy gilafi kulcha. Many restaurants claim to serve Mughlai food; this is the real thing.

49 Maddox St, Mayfair
London W1S 2PQ, UK

10. The Cinnamon Club

The Old Westminster Library, Great Smith St, Westminster, London SW1P 3BU, UK

Iqbal Wahhab launched this upscale Indian in 2001, but it wasn’t long before he parted company; and now it’s very much executive chef Vivek Singh’s baby. It’s located in a magnificent Grade II listed building of the former Westminster Library, a large space with two bars set over two floors. The book-lined dining room has a cinematic feel, with bright white walls, bright white tablecloths and bright lights. The former gentlemen’s club décor, beloved of the MPs who regularly dine here, has given way to lighter space that makes diners feel like they’re in a movie. ‘Bombay-style vegetables’ with truffled pao and jerusalem artichoke crisps is essentially pao bhaji with a culinary college education. The restaurant is famous for game and fish dishes, such as lobster with kokum dip and dried shrimp chutney; and tandoori venison loin with fenugreek and robust black stone flower reduction. The spicing is spirited, and the sheer variety of speciality ingredients and techniques is dazzling.

The Old Westminster Library, Great Smith St, Westminster
London SW1P 3BU, UK

11. Darjeeling Express

2a Garrick St, London WC2E 9BH, UK
Puri at Darjeeling Express, on a black platter and a pink and navy background Ming Tang-Evans/Eater London

Asma Khan’s famed restaurant, now located in bigger premises in Covent Garden, 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 and festival 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 this restaurant perfectly.

2a Garrick St
London WC2E 9BH, UK

12. Brigadiers

1-5 Bloomberg Arcade, London EC4N 8AR, UK
Butter chicken wings at Brigadiers, at the Bloomberg Arcade in the City — a restaurant by JKS, which runs Michelin-starred Trishna and Gymkhana, as well as Hoppers.
Butter chicken wings at Brigadiers
Tomas Jivanda/for Eater London

Probably the best place to eat and drink in the City’s renowned Bloomberg Arcade, this smart sports bar is inspired by Indian army mess bars popular with military regiments — but also has the good looks, shiny surfaces, and sturdy furniture of classic British gentlemen’s clubs. Like other Indian pubs and bars, the emphasis is on kababs, chops, chaats, sandwiches, and barbecue dishes that are handy to pick up and eat while eyes are focused on the screen. Glazed puff pastries filled with gorgeously spiced guinea fowl come with fragrant green chutney for dipping; and a chaat of lotus root slices and puffed lotus seeds balances the tangy with the savoury. Mashed aubergines with toasted sweetcorn on miniature Rajasthani chickpea flour flatbreads have a deep smokiness that doesn’t overpower the spicing; and lamb kababs are juicy and properly charred on all sides. This is superlative snacking.

1-5 Bloomberg Arcade
London EC4N 8AR, UK

13. Udaya Kerala Restaurant

105 Katherine Rd, East Ham, London E6 1ES, UK
Sejal Sukhadwala / Eater London

Located parallel to the main drag of the High Street in East Ham, this Kerala restaurant is superior to even the best South Indian restaurants in the area. It’s a neat, cosy place festooned with ornaments and paintings, including a striking nettipattam: a decorative shield used as an adornment for the trunks of elephants. Chicken 65 (with or without bone, a dish which originated in Chennai) and gobi 65, delicately spiced with cardamom and black pepper, are some of the tastiest versions found in London. Seafood is very much a strong point here, with lively spicing found in crab fry and squid curry. Fresh spices flown in from Kerala perk up a complex black chickpea curry, eaten with mashed cassava root that should be rolled into balls with fingers. Egg roast features whole, shallow-fried boiled eggs in a pool of thick gravy studded with dried red chillies, with crunchy cabbage thoran making an excellent foil. Don’t miss the lacy doilies of appams, spongy in the middle and crisp around the edges — better here than other restaurants in the area.

105 Katherine Rd, East Ham
London E6 1ES, UK

14. Hyderabadi Spice

309 High St N, Manor Park, London E12 6SL, UK
Biryani, cooked dum style, at Hyderabadi Spice — one of the best Indian restaurants in London
Biryani, cooked dum style
Sejal Sukhadwala

One of the very few venues in London to showcase the exquisitely complex cuisine of Hyderabad, this small, modest-looking East Ham café attracts large family crowds, so be prepared to wait. There are many classics from the region, such as nizami gosht, kuska bagara, and haleem — but the one thing everyone comes here for is the generously portioned, excellent-value biryani. It more than lives up to expectations: cooked dum style, but served without the theatrics of a pastry lid, the golden grains of rice are generously studded with beautifully spiced lamb, chicken, seafood, whole boiled eggs, or vegetables, then topped with a tangle of crisp caramelised onions. This is also one of the few places to find khubani ka meetha, a classic pudding of stewed dried apricots and apricot kernels steeped (here very deeply) in cream; and ‘Irani chai’, a strong, slow-brewed Persian tea made with reduced milk solids ubiquitous in Hyderabad, but not widely available in London. 

309 High St N, Manor Park
London E12 6SL, UK

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