Ah, London. Ah, curry. Two of my favourite things, and two which are inherently intertwined. The Indian food industry is one of the biggest in the UK, and London has more Indian restaurants than Mumbai or Delhi (nice pub quiz fact). Here are three places that I will never tire of:
The Lahore Kebab House
This legendary Pakistani curry establishment in Whitechapel holds a very special place in my heart. I think I might even love it more than my family (sorry to have to break it to you, Mum). Very traditional, unpretentious food at fair prices and quick and friendly service. Bring your own alcohol as they will not serve it here – there’s an off-licence just round the corner, so you don’t need to panic. I find the curries towards the hotter end of the Scoville scale, so make sure to order a few mango lassies to cool down (nectar of the Gods). You must, I repeat, MUST, order some sort of grilled lamb dish here (tandoori lamb chop is what I normally go for; a blackened, chargrilled crust with juicy, tender meat). They are always stupendously good. The dals are excellent as well. This is the perfect venue for a social, and somewhat messy, curry. Not a prim and formal evening by any stretch of the imagination. Do not take a Tinder date here, unless you think he/she will be charmed by a group of inebriated bankers boat-racing each other near your table and loudly chanting. That said, it isn’t always this raucous and I don’t want to do this glorious establishment a disservice - it’s perfect the way it is. And if the conversation is wilting or your spice intolerance has left you gasping for breath, you’ll be able to catch some of the IPL or a football match on the large LCD screens scattered around. Tip: if you are downstairs waiting for your friends to arrive, there’s a little waiting area which lets you gaze into the open kitchen and see the bustling chefs at work.
I cannot speak highly enough of Dishoom. This is one of the few places in London that keeps me coming back, time after time; there are a number of them scattered around but sadly I can only comment on the one in Shoreditch. The place just exudes cool, from the interior décor to the menus and even the staff, who will gladly explain the menu and recommend some options for you.
Nearly had me in tears it was so good
But most importantly, the food is staggeringly good. Nothing overly rich or stodgy like some Indian fare; everything is light, flavourful and perfectly spiced. The chicken ruby has to be one of the most lauded dishes in London and deservedly so, the black Dal nearly had me in tears it was so good, and if you are feeling brave, the fried Okra is also a delight. I suggest you go with a group and order lots of different things from the menu, because the quality of everything is just outstanding. I’ve yet to have a brunch here but I’m told everything right down to the coffee is sublime. Only drawback would be that you are guaranteed a reasonably lengthy queue at peak times (around an hour, sometimes longer). But if you go at around 5pm (or even before!), chances are you can nab a table with minimal fuss. Remember, you can always soothe the pain of the wait-time at the cosy bar in the restaurant, which serves excellent cocktails. I always go for something as close to a dark and stormy as possible, and have never been disappointed. You can reserve a table if you are a group of 6 people or more; well worth doing.
This place was recently awarded a Michelin star, and to be honest I can’t believe it took so long. The most memorable curry I have had in my life, and I’ve had more than I’d care to share. Located in swanky Mayfair, you can reserve this place for a special occasion (reservations can be made on the website and should be made well in advance). This is more of a fine-dining establishment which is evident by the prices and wine list. But it fully justifies its price-tag. The menu does not change dramatically but alterations are made now and then to keep it fresh. The staff are lovely and were happy to give some recommendations; I’d also recommend throwing caution to the wind and sampling the more unusual sounding dishes. I would highly endorse the potato chaat - (one of the most moreish thing I have ever eaten, I would have no qualms living off the stuff) and the paneer tikka. Truly an experience eating here, and one I’d hate for you to miss out on.