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Misal pav at Shree Krishna Vada Pav in Hounslow — one of the best Western Indian restaurants in London
Misal pav at Shree Krishna Vada Pav in Hounslow

London’s Best Western Indian Restaurants

Featuring Gujarati snacks, old school thalis, and excellent pav dishes that can rival Mumbai’s

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Misal pav at Shree Krishna Vada Pav in Hounslow

Unlike London’s early North Indian restaurants, the ones serving food of Western India —which includes Gujarat, Maharashtra, Mumbai with its own distinct culinary identity, Goa, and the cuisines of the western coast — were largely set up by members of those communities.

The highest number of these are Gujarati, mostly clustered around Wembley, Harrow, Kenton, Kingsbury, and Hounslow in north and west London. They’re modest, inexpensive vegetarian cafés established between the 1960s and 1980s, many by families who’d fled Idi Amin’s Uganda — so they mostly serve Gujarati food with Ugandan and Kenyan influences. Their numbers are dwindling though, and some have lost their shine because younger Gujaratis have moved into white-collar office jobs and no longer want to take over the running of their family businesses. Many survive by providing catering for weddings and other occasions.

The newer Gujarati venues have few traditional dishes and more generic menus that include Gujarati versions of Punjabi, South Indian, and Indian-Chinese — with a smattering of Italian pizza and pasta, Mexican, and Middle Eastern items. These are the most popular non-Indian cuisines in Western India; and Gujaratis often dine together as a family, with young people choosing non-Indian. They also serve Jain and farali (fasting) food cooked according to strict dietary rules omitting several ingredients.

Until relatively recently, Gujarat and Maharashtra were one state — and when they split into two, Mumbai became the capital of Maharashtra. With its cosmopolitan mix of, not only Maharashtrian but also Gujarati, Marwari, Bengali, Goan, Parsi, Sindhi, Punjabi, Bihari, South Indian, and East Indian Catholic communities, it serves uniquely eclectic food that can be found in London’s smart Mumbai restaurants.

There used to be barely one or two Goan restaurants in the capital, but the number of casual cafés has been rising steadily in the last five years. They serve mostly Goan Catholic street food snacks, and meat and fish curries alongside ubiquitous pan-Indian fare.

This collection of Western Indian restaurants includes seven Gujarati, two Maharashtrian, three Bombay, and two Goan places; plus one that showcases Western coastal cuisines.

This is the third 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; the second is a guide to the best North Indian restaurants in London. An article explaining the ingredients, flavours, and preparations of each region will be published when the series is concluded.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Meera's Village

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36 Queensbury Station Parade
Edgware HA8 5NN, UK

Striking décor in the style of a Gujarati village is the talking point at this Queensbury vegetarian restaurant: entire walls painted with bullock carts, peacocks, and women fetching water from wells in bright colours; sparkling lights and chandeliers; an antique doorway; puppets in traditional costumes; and a special table at the front shaded by a decorative mirrorwork canopy. The menu is vast: visit early in the day for the buffet thali. The dishes may not look as attractive as the interior design, but the buffet is the place where the widest selection of traditional fare is available. Regularly changing dishes may include tamarind and jaggery flavoured Gujarati dal, vaal (dried hyacinth beans), and undhiyu (Surti casserole of roots, fresh beans, and fenugreek dumplings). There are also classic Gujarati snacks like dhokla, khandvi, and bhajia — steamed or fried chickpea flour creations that Gujarati cooks are most admired for. 

Meera’s Village

2. Sakonis

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5-8 Dominion Parade Station Rd
Harrow HA1 2TR, UK
020 8863 3399

The original Sakonis in Wembley is massively popular with the Kenyan Gujarati community, and has gradually evolved into a vegetarian mini-chain. This Harrow site is not a part of the chain though — it has the same name, logo, and signage, but it’s a stand-alone restaurant with different ownership, menu items and prices. The Gujarati dishes here have a more traditional taste — especially the buffet of snacks ranging from patra (‘swiss roll’ spirals of chickpea flour and tamarind-stuffed colocasia leaves), to yoghurt-blanketed, sev-topped chaats; rotlis and pooris; sweet and sour Gujarati dal and kadhi, kathol (a separate genre of whole bean cookery — not to be confused with dal), and assorted vegetable shaaks. They’re served alongside Indian-Chinese items — so expect a Gujarati family at the same table eating chips, noodles, and dhokla.

Sakonis

3. Bombay Spice Nashta House

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560 Kingsbury Road
London NW9 9HJ, UK
020 8204 7009

This tiny, chaotic, daytime-only Surti vegetarian café is as unfancy as they come: plain interior, scuffed furniture, stacks of boxes — and the much-adored owner Raju Bhai talking loudly with customers in between phone calls. There are daily changing thalis served between 12.30 and 3.30 p.m. — the rest of the time the venue lives up to its name of a ‘nashta house’, which means a snack bar. A half plate each of Surti sev khaman and sev khamani cooked by the owner’s wife is a fine choice: steamed, savoury chickpea flour ‘cakes’, whole or crumbled, topped with sev, red onions, and chutneys. The place is rammed at weekends when Gujaratis travel great distances for Surti undhiyu: Surat’s famous casserole of purple yam, sweet potatoes, fresh hyacinth beans, and pigeon peas — mercifully not ruined by tomatoes and sweetcorn as is often the case in London.

Bombay Spice

4. Pradips

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156 Kenton Rd
Harrow HA3 8AZ, UK

The original Pradips was a Gujarati mitahi shop in Uganda 50-plus years ago; then the family moved to UK over 30 years ago and opened another one with the same name in Kenton Road; and, ten years later, this neat, spacious vegetarian restaurant next door. While the mithai shop does a roaring trade selling sweets and savouries cooked by around two dozen staff in the industrial kitchen sprawled between the two businesses, the restaurant, curiously, attracts few customers. This is surprising given the brand’s immense popularity, strong catering arm, and superb taste and high quality of vegetarian food made from scratch. Snacks such as green pea kachori chaat exhibit great balance of vibrant flavours; the same is true of mains like toor dal perfumed with cinnamon, cloves, and curry leaves; and miniature potatoes and aubergines stuffed with chickpea flour and spices.

Pradips

5. Goan Spice Café & Restaurant

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323 Harrow Rd
Wembley HA9 6BA, UK
07448 860024

Enormously popular with the local Goan community, this inexpensive, homely café is run by a family in which the friendly, welcoming husband works front of house, and his wife cooks in the kitchen — with him and his mother chipping in when needed. On Goan feast days, the place is packed with crowds from church service; and when there are no tables available, they eat standing up. Mackerel curry is the most loved dish here (as was pork vindaloo, until they stopped serving it). Among staples such as chorizo bread, ros omelette, and chicken xacuti, there’s also green beef with coriander leaves, tamarind and potatoes that’s not widely available elsewhere. Mixed bhaji — dried white pea stew served alongside spiced potatoes — is basic but has a good flavour, and comes with a warm, hefty pav. Unlike most other Goan restaurants, the dishes on the short menu are resolutely Goan and not generically Indian.

Goan Spice

6. Shayona

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54-62 Meadow Garth, Neasden
London NW10 8HD, UK

Although London’s Gujarati venues are mostly no-frills cafés, this is not the case here. The smart, attractive Neasden venue operates like a tight ship with slick service, and customers from around the world. It’s owned by the Swaminarayan temple across the road, with access via a large car park, past an excellent Indian grocery store and counter selling savouries. The brand also produces mithai and nibbles, and has a few takeaway shops. Here there’s a vast vegetarian menu of dishes cooked without onions and garlic to cater for Jains and certain Hindu communities. Look out for weekend specials like pearl millet flatbreads, fresh pigeon pea kadhi, and a fairly decent rendition of Swaminarayan khichdi: rice and toor dal cooked with lots of vegetables and spices in a famous version of the dish created by Ahmedabad’s Swaminarayan temple in the early twentieth century.

Shayona

7. Ronak

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317 Romford Rd, Forest Gate
London E7 9HA, UK
020 8534 2944

Established over 40 years ago, this unassuming vegetarian café in Forest Gate was one of the capital’s first Gujarati restaurants. The tasty food is immensely popular with local Gujaratis for takeaways, but the venue itself is not for everyone: there’s no menu as such and there’s an air of a place that’s seen better days. The owner’s wife and her assistants do all the cooking, so expect home-style vegetables, dals, rotlis, and steamed and fried snacks such as bhajiyas — here all cooked Kathiyawadi style with an extra slick of oil. Lesser-known Indian vegetables like ivy gourd and cluster beans, rarely seen on London menus, are also available. Elderly Gujaratis from a local nursing home are invited for a free meal once a week; and donations from catering for funerals has allowed the family to open schools and other amenities at their home village in India.  

Ronak

8. 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.

Asher’s Africana Restaurant Wembley

9. 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 run 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.

Trishna

10. Bombay Bustle

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29 Maddox St, Mayfair
London W1S 2PA, UK

The garnishes at this stylish Modern Indian in Mayfair sum up its spirit: a jugalbandhi of fried green chillies and micro shoots — harmonious duet of Indian flavours with Western flourishes. Chaats are true to what a bhaiyaji (street food vendor) on Chowpatty beach might serve: crisp potato tikkis topped with beautifully spiced dried white pea stew, and Indian ‘sloppy joes’ of vegetable masala smothering fluffy clouds of dainty white bread rolls. Koliwada squid from Mumbai’s fishermen Koli community is shot through with chillies and garlic; and Mumbai’s egg-and-bread specialities like ghotala and baida roti are found on the Sunday brunch menu. Although (Kutir chef-patron) Rohit Ghai is no longer involved with the restaurant — part of the Leela Group that includes Mayfair’s Jamavar — his much-loved rarah keema pao has remained on the menu: a creation inspired by Mumbai’s keema pao and North Indian rara gosht in which lamb chunks give texture to lamb mince.

Bombay Bustle

11. Dishoom

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12 Upper St Martin's Ln
London WC2H 9FB, UK

So much has been written about London’s best-known and influential Indian restaurant — which has since morphed into a U.K.-wide chain — that it feels like an old friend, even to those who have never visited. There were other contemporary, mid-price Indians before this Covent Garden original burst onto the capital’s dining scene less than a decade ago, but nobody remembers them. Indian restaurants have changed so dramatically since then that it’s easy to forget just how ground-breaking it was, demonstrating the power of storytelling. That story — of the fading Irani cafés little known outside Mumbai — triggered an interest in them internationally, including in India, giving them a new lease of life. The best way of experiencing Irani café classics — and Parsi food generally — is by visiting for breakfast and ordering as many items with eggs as appetite allows. Then finish by lingering over bun maska and chocolate chai.

Courtesy of Dishoom Carnaby

12. Bombay Brasserie

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London Courtfield Road, Opposite, Gloucester Road Tube, South Kensington
London SW7 4QH, UK

Set up in 1982, the most significant thing about this glamorous venue opposite Gloucester Road tube station is that it was London’s first Modern Indian restaurant, though the term had yet to be coined. Interest from celebrities like Tom Cruise led to wonderment and column inches from international restaurant critics at the time. It’s been redecorated a few times over the years, but still maintains its colonial-style interior of potted palms, gilt-edged framed photographs, tribal art, stunning chandeliers, and a beautiful bar. Try the many Bombay chaats or the seafood platter with fresh prawns, scallops and crab claws. Other impressive dishes include duck breasts with tamarind and green peppercorns, and okra pan-fried with water chestnuts. Book a secluded table in the famous, atmospheric conservatory at the back.

Bombay Brasserie

13. Indian Zing

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236 King St, Hammersmith
London W6 0RF, UK

Maharashtrian chef-owner Manoj Vasaikar’s smart, white table-clothed, extraordinarily popular two-room venue in Hammersmith isn’t Maharashtrian as such — but there are a few classics with contemporary touches to be found here. Vegetable bhanola — steamed, griddled chickpea flour ‘cake’ with cabbage and onions — is presented on banana leaves; and prawn lonche with aubergines packs a punch with pickling spices. Chicken hirva masala from the Malvani community of the Konkan region is dressed in a fragrant green gravy of fresh coriander, coconut, and green chillies; and prawn lonvas is a rare dish from Mumbai’s lesser-known East Indian community flavoured with the famed ‘bottle masala’ — not easily found in India, let alone London. Light, aromatic biryani is made in the style of travellers’ fare on an express highway — different from the way it’s cooked in wealthy suburban households, but just as good.

Indian Zing

14. Casa de Goa

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113 High St
Hounslow TW3 1QT, UK

There’s a constant stream of Goans coming in and out of this no-frills basement café next to a pub on the High Street in Hounslow — but the standards are inconsistent and the food divides opinion. Among the more successful dishes are (pork, liver, and kidney) sorpotel with its attractive dark terracotta colour and bright, complex pickled flavour; and beef chilli fry with tender meat falling off the fork. A fish thali includes mackerel cooked in fiery, tangy bright red recheado masala; and this is a rare place in London to find kappa pav: a recently invented Goan street food featuring sliced potatoes fried in chickpea and rice flour batter sprinkled with Goan peri peri seasoning piled into a white bread roll — simple but moreish.

Casa De Goa

15. 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 still the best. Yes, the vada pav are very good, cushioned into lively red chilli, coconut and garlic chutney-smeared, correctly trashy white bread rolls — but misal pav is the main draw. Despite being 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’. 

Misal pav at Shree Krishna Vada Pav in Hounslow — one of the best Western Indian restaurants in London
Shree Krishna Vada Pav

1. Meera's Village

36 Queensbury Station Parade, Edgware HA8 5NN, UK
Meera’s Village

Striking décor in the style of a Gujarati village is the talking point at this Queensbury vegetarian restaurant: entire walls painted with bullock carts, peacocks, and women fetching water from wells in bright colours; sparkling lights and chandeliers; an antique doorway; puppets in traditional costumes; and a special table at the front shaded by a decorative mirrorwork canopy. The menu is vast: visit early in the day for the buffet thali. The dishes may not look as attractive as the interior design, but the buffet is the place where the widest selection of traditional fare is available. Regularly changing dishes may include tamarind and jaggery flavoured Gujarati dal, vaal (dried hyacinth beans), and undhiyu (Surti casserole of roots, fresh beans, and fenugreek dumplings). There are also classic Gujarati snacks like dhokla, khandvi, and bhajia — steamed or fried chickpea flour creations that Gujarati cooks are most admired for. 

36 Queensbury Station Parade
Edgware HA8 5NN, UK

2. Sakonis

5-8 Dominion Parade Station Rd, Harrow HA1 2TR, UK
Sakonis

The original Sakonis in Wembley is massively popular with the Kenyan Gujarati community, and has gradually evolved into a vegetarian mini-chain. This Harrow site is not a part of the chain though — it has the same name, logo, and signage, but it’s a stand-alone restaurant with different ownership, menu items and prices. The Gujarati dishes here have a more traditional taste — especially the buffet of snacks ranging from patra (‘swiss roll’ spirals of chickpea flour and tamarind-stuffed colocasia leaves), to yoghurt-blanketed, sev-topped chaats; rotlis and pooris; sweet and sour Gujarati dal and kadhi, kathol (a separate genre of whole bean cookery — not to be confused with dal), and assorted vegetable shaaks. They’re served alongside Indian-Chinese items — so expect a Gujarati family at the same table eating chips, noodles, and dhokla.

5-8 Dominion Parade Station Rd
Harrow HA1 2TR, UK

3. Bombay Spice Nashta House

560 Kingsbury Road, London NW9 9HJ, UK
Bombay Spice

This tiny, chaotic, daytime-only Surti vegetarian café is as unfancy as they come: plain interior, scuffed furniture, stacks of boxes — and the much-adored owner Raju Bhai talking loudly with customers in between phone calls. There are daily changing thalis served between 12.30 and 3.30 p.m. — the rest of the time the venue lives up to its name of a ‘nashta house’, which means a snack bar. A half plate each of Surti sev khaman and sev khamani cooked by the owner’s wife is a fine choice: steamed, savoury chickpea flour ‘cakes’, whole or crumbled, topped with sev, red onions, and chutneys. The place is rammed at weekends when Gujaratis travel great distances for Surti undhiyu: Surat’s famous casserole of purple yam, sweet potatoes, fresh hyacinth beans, and pigeon peas — mercifully not ruined by tomatoes and sweetcorn as is often the case in London.

560 Kingsbury Road
London NW9 9HJ, UK

4. Pradips

156 Kenton Rd, Harrow HA3 8AZ, UK
Pradips

The original Pradips was a Gujarati mitahi shop in Uganda 50-plus years ago; then the family moved to UK over 30 years ago and opened another one with the same name in Kenton Road; and, ten years later, this neat, spacious vegetarian restaurant next door. While the mithai shop does a roaring trade selling sweets and savouries cooked by around two dozen staff in the industrial kitchen sprawled between the two businesses, the restaurant, curiously, attracts few customers. This is surprising given the brand’s immense popularity, strong catering arm, and superb taste and high quality of vegetarian food made from scratch. Snacks such as green pea kachori chaat exhibit great balance of vibrant flavours; the same is true of mains like toor dal perfumed with cinnamon, cloves, and curry leaves; and miniature potatoes and aubergines stuffed with chickpea flour and spices.

156 Kenton Rd
Harrow HA3 8AZ, UK

5. Goan Spice Café & Restaurant

323 Harrow Rd, Wembley HA9 6BA, UK
Goan Spice

Enormously popular with the local Goan community, this inexpensive, homely café is run by a family in which the friendly, welcoming husband works front of house, and his wife cooks in the kitchen — with him and his mother chipping in when needed. On Goan feast days, the place is packed with crowds from church service; and when there are no tables available, they eat standing up. Mackerel curry is the most loved dish here (as was pork vindaloo, until they stopped serving it). Among staples such as chorizo bread, ros omelette, and chicken xacuti, there’s also green beef with coriander leaves, tamarind and potatoes that’s not widely available elsewhere. Mixed bhaji — dried white pea stew served alongside spiced potatoes — is basic but has a good flavour, and comes with a warm, hefty pav. Unlike most other Goan restaurants, the dishes on the short menu are resolutely Goan and not generically Indian.

323 Harrow Rd
Wembley HA9 6BA, UK

6. Shayona

54-62 Meadow Garth, Neasden, London NW10 8HD, UK
Shayona

Although London’s Gujarati venues are mostly no-frills cafés, this is not the case here. The smart, attractive Neasden venue operates like a tight ship with slick service, and customers from around the world. It’s owned by the Swaminarayan temple across the road, with access via a large car park, past an excellent Indian grocery store and counter selling savouries. The brand also produces mithai and nibbles, and has a few takeaway shops. Here there’s a vast vegetarian menu of dishes cooked without onions and garlic to cater for Jains and certain Hindu communities. Look out for weekend specials like pearl millet flatbreads, fresh pigeon pea kadhi, and a fairly decent rendition of Swaminarayan khichdi: rice and toor dal cooked with lots of vegetables and spices in a famous version of the dish created by Ahmedabad’s Swaminarayan temple in the early twentieth century.

54-62 Meadow Garth, Neasden
London NW10 8HD, UK

7. Ronak

317 Romford Rd, Forest Gate, London E7 9HA, UK
Ronak

Established over 40 years ago, this unassuming vegetarian café in Forest Gate was one of the capital’s first Gujarati restaurants. The tasty food is immensely popular with local Gujaratis for takeaways, but the venue itself is not for everyone: there’s no menu as such and there’s an air of a place that’s seen better days. The owner’s wife and her assistants do all the cooking, so expect home-style vegetables, dals, rotlis, and steamed and fried snacks such as bhajiyas — here all cooked Kathiyawadi style with an extra slick of oil. Lesser-known Indian vegetables like ivy gourd and cluster beans, rarely seen on London menus, are also available. Elderly Gujaratis from a local nursing home are invited for a free meal once a week; and donations from catering for funerals has allowed the family to open schools and other amenities at their home village in India.  

317 Romford Rd, Forest Gate
London E7 9HA, UK

8. Asher's Africana Restaurant Wembley

224 Ealing Rd, Wembley HA0 4QL, UK
Asher’s Africana Restaurant Wembley

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

9. Trishna

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

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 run 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

10. Bombay Bustle

29 Maddox St, Mayfair, London W1S 2PA, UK
Bombay Bustle

The garnishes at this stylish Modern Indian in Mayfair sum up its spirit: a jugalbandhi of fried green chillies and micro shoots — harmonious duet of Indian flavours with Western flourishes. Chaats are true to what a bhaiyaji (street food vendor) on Chowpatty beach might serve: crisp potato tikkis topped with beautifully spiced dried white pea stew, and Indian ‘sloppy joes’ of vegetable masala smothering fluffy clouds of dainty white bread rolls. Koliwada squid from Mumbai’s fishermen Koli community is shot through with chillies and garlic; and Mumbai’s egg-and-bread specialities like ghotala and baida roti are found on the Sunday brunch menu. Although (Kutir chef-patron) Rohit Ghai is no longer involved with the restaurant — part of the Leela Group that includes Mayfair’s Jamavar — his much-loved rarah keema pao has remained on the menu: a creation inspired by Mumbai’s keema pao and North Indian rara gosht in which lamb chunks give texture to lamb mince.

29 Maddox St, Mayfair
London W1S 2PA, UK

11. Dishoom

12 Upper St Martin's Ln, London WC2H 9FB, UK
Courtesy of Dishoom Carnaby

So much has been written about London’s best-known and influential Indian restaurant — which has since morphed into a U.K.-wide chain — that it feels like an old friend, even to those who have never visited. There were other contemporary, mid-price Indians before this Covent Garden original burst onto the capital’s dining scene less than a decade ago, but nobody remembers them. Indian restaurants have changed so dramatically since then that it’s easy to forget just how ground-breaking it was, demonstrating the power of storytelling. That story — of the fading Irani cafés little known outside Mumbai — triggered an interest in them internationally, including in India, giving them a new lease of life. The best way of experiencing Irani café classics — and Parsi food generally — is by visiting for breakfast and ordering as many items with eggs as appetite allows. Then finish by lingering over bun maska and chocolate chai.

12 Upper St Martin's Ln
London WC2H 9FB, UK

12. Bombay Brasserie

London Courtfield Road, Opposite, Gloucester Road Tube, South Kensington, London SW7 4QH, UK
Bombay Brasserie

Set up in 1982, the most significant thing about this glamorous venue opposite Gloucester Road tube station is that it was London’s first Modern Indian restaurant, though the term had yet to be coined. Interest from celebrities like Tom Cruise led to wonderment and column inches from international restaurant critics at the time. It’s been redecorated a few times over the years, but still maintains its colonial-style interior of potted palms, gilt-edged framed photographs, tribal art, stunning chandeliers, and a beautiful bar. Try the many Bombay chaats or the seafood platter with fresh prawns, scallops and crab claws. Other impressive dishes include duck breasts with tamarind and green peppercorns, and okra pan-fried with water chestnuts. Book a secluded table in the famous, atmospheric conservatory at the back.

London Courtfield Road, Opposite, Gloucester Road Tube, South Kensington
London SW7 4QH, UK

13. Indian Zing

236 King St, Hammersmith, London W6 0RF, UK
Indian Zing

Maharashtrian chef-owner Manoj Vasaikar’s smart, white table-clothed, extraordinarily popular two-room venue in Hammersmith isn’t Maharashtrian as such — but there are a few classics with contemporary touches to be found here. Vegetable bhanola — steamed, griddled chickpea flour ‘cake’ with cabbage and onions — is presented on banana leaves; and prawn lonche with aubergines packs a punch with pickling spices. Chicken hirva masala from the Malvani community of the Konkan region is dressed in a fragrant green gravy of fresh coriander, coconut, and green chillies; and prawn lonvas is a rare dish from Mumbai’s lesser-known East Indian community flavoured with the famed ‘bottle masala’ — not easily found in India, let alone London. Light, aromatic biryani is made in the style of travellers’ fare on an express highway — different from the way it’s cooked in wealthy suburban households, but just as good.

236 King St, Hammersmith
London W6 0RF, UK

14. Casa de Goa

113 High St, Hounslow TW3 1QT, UK
Casa De Goa

There’s a constant stream of Goans coming in and out of this no-frills basement café next to a pub on the High Street in Hounslow — but the standards are inconsistent and the food divides opinion. Among the more successful dishes are (pork, liver, and kidney) sorpotel with its attractive dark terracotta colour and bright, complex pickled flavour; and beef chilli fry with tender meat falling off the fork. A fish thali includes mackerel cooked in fiery, tangy bright red recheado masala; and this is a rare place in London to find kappa pav: a recently invented Goan street food featuring sliced potatoes fried in chickpea and rice flour batter sprinkled with Goan peri peri seasoning piled into a white bread roll — simple but moreish.

113 High St
Hounslow TW3 1QT, UK

15. Shree Krishna Vada Pav

121 High St, Hounslow TW3 1QL, UK
Misal pav at Shree Krishna Vada Pav in Hounslow — one of the best Western Indian restaurants in London
Shree Krishna Vada Pav

This simple Maharashtrian vegetarian snack bar has expanded into a chain across west and north London — but the original in Hounslow is still the best. Yes, the vada pav are very good, cushioned into lively red chilli, coconut and garlic chutney-smeared, correctly trashy white bread rolls — but misal pav is the main draw. Despite being 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

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