This is part four in a six-part series to regional Indian cuisine in London. Check out London’s best North Indian, Western Indian, and Eastern Indian restaurants, too. An article explaining the ingredients, flavours, and preparations of each region will be published when the series is concluded.
South India is the region of Karnataka and Kerala on India’s southwest coast; and Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana (of which Hyderabad is the capital) in the southeast. The cuisines of all of these states are found in London. For many people in Western countries, South Indian food is rapidly becoming their favourite — its lightness as compared to the thick gravies of North Indian dishes; its focus on vegetables, beans and grains; its quick sautés and stir-fries that give the dishes freshness, vibrancy and crisper textures, all of which are aligned to contemporary tastes.
Dosas are synonymous with the cuisine — but there’s much more to it than the ubiquitous pancakes that are increasingly Disneyfied, both here and in India, with chefs coming up with more and more outlandish fillings and sizes as though it were a spectator sport not an everyday breakfast item. There are also crunchy thorans and creamy coconut curries, multi-layered parottas, and aromatic rice dishes, and a great variety of steamed and fried snacks. Because spices grow everywhere in South India, most South Indian restaurants in London have them flown in from the owners’ hometowns: their freshness adding a piquancy, which registers a noticeable difference in the food’s taste.
Perhaps this is why there are no truly terrible South Indian restaurants in London — the standard is very high, ranging from good to excellent. Tooting was once a byword for South Indian food, but in the last 10-15 years it’s been trumped by East Ham, where the best — and best-value — South Indian restaurants are clustered, mostly along the High Street. So for the best South Indian food — and in fact, some of the best Indian food — this unassuming part of east London is the place to be.Read More