When people outside India talk about Indian food, they usually mean North Indian, and specifically Punjabi. Other than pure deliciousness, and the universal appeal of food cooked in a tomato, onion, and garlic base, it’s not clear why Punjabi is the most popular Indian cuisine both in and out of India — perhaps the proximity of Delhi, the capital, could have something to do with the dominance of this region over others.
Another reason may be the way eating out culture has historically developed in the sub-continent. Until the 20th century, in a conservative society with religious and Ayurvedic rules about what one could and couldn’t eat, many Indians disapproved of dining out — and cheap and cheerful dhabas, the roadside cafés that serve Punjabi truck drivers, were among the very first restaurants in India.
In the U.K., it was largely these dhaba recipes that the early Bangladeshi restaurateurs adapted in the early 1900s combining their own traditions and available ingredients at the time, creating a sort of Punjabi-Bangladeshi-British hybrid that was the mainstay of Indian restaurants for decades.
This round-up of London’s best North Indian restaurants includes 11 Punjabi, one Kashmiri, and two restaurants serving North East Indian cuisine.
This is the second article in a seven-part series covering regional Indian cuisine in London. The first is a guide to the best Indian restaurants in London right now. An article explaining the ingredients, flavours, and preparations of each region will be published when the series is concluded.Read More