Indian Dining

Cafe Spice Namaste

Found in the City of London, in the original courthouse where ‘Jack the Ripper’ had his trial, the ground floor of this Grade II Listed Building is where you can discover the amazingly quirky Indian cuisine by Patron Chef Cyrus. This Celebrity Chef has many of his awards in the entrance hall to the restaurant. He has created a truly magical experience with spices and produced an array of flavoursome Indian favourites from around the sub-continent with a special focus on cuisine from Goa.

In the menu he provides passionate descriptions of each dish with details of where main ingredients have been sourced within the British Isles and a little history of the origins of the dish. Prepare to be amazed by the totally, unique selection of dishes, probably not found in any other Indian restaurant. A notable fact is that this is the only Indian restaurant to have beef and pork on the menu. Make sure to try as much as possible as each dish is interestingly quirky. Best to share the dishes! My favourite starters include ‘Tandoori Duck Sausage’ and ‘Lamb Dosa,’ and for main the ‘Choriso Misto’ which has a wild explosion of flavour, served with Goan coconut curry. There is always room for dessert so try Cyrus’s twist on the traditional Crème Brulee which has cardamon, ginger and saffron, the Bebinca, which is a traditional Goan layered dessert which has been baked for hours or the unique selection of Kulfi which includes chocolate and hazelnut. Chef Cyrus who has been awarded an OBE, has even cooked for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II!!

Chor Bizzare

A uniquely fabulous setting for an Indian dining experience in Mayfair. Incapsulating the spirit of a Chor Bazaar (meaning 'a thieves market') the elaborate furnishings and decor have been collected from various Indian bazaars and have been accordingly arranged to create inspiring surroundings for the diners.

Desi Tadka

A traditional Punjabi restaurant in the area in West London known as Little India, namely, Southall. It has been designed with ethnic features, lantern lighting and statues. The waiters are dressed in traditional 'dhoti kurta' outfits and provide entertainment in the form of Bhangra dancing throughout the evening.

Dishoom Kings Cross

This has to be the quirkiest Indian destination for food. It can be called a 'destination' as when you arrive to this huge warehouse (godown) you are transported to the streets of Bombay (Mumbai). With traditional clocks, old sepia printed photos on the walls, ethnic caned seats and the faint background music of old skool bollywood, Dishoom Kingscross is a place you can visit for hours on end. Start with quirky cocktails in the bar on the ground floor where there are floor to ceiling windows and even sample the authentic soft drinks from India, such as Thums Up (similar to Pepsi) and Limca (a lemony lime flavoured drink which has no alternative, great as a mixed with vodka!). The layout of the warehouse is staggered so there is a mezzanine floor and a top floor exlusive for large groups.  The downstairs bar is nice and cosy too and which is where the toilets are, do pay a visit even if you dont need to go as they are unique!

Now for the food, the whole  'street food' themed menu is very enticing serving all meals from breakfast, lunch, tea through to dinner. The roomali roti is definintely something to try. Called the 'handkerchief bread' as it is wafer thin and folded several times like a handkerchief. It is cooked on the convex of a kadhai (indian wok). This goes well with the tandoori dishes and curries on offer. There is plenty of choice for vegetarians.

Diwana Restaurant

Specialising in South Indian vegetarian street food, this quirky little place in Euston has a great variety of dishes at reasonable prices. The décor is simple and service efficient. There is a regular buffet which offers an extensive range of snacks, curries and sweet dishes for a very reasonable price!

Pictured here is 'Pani Puri' which is semolina pastry puffed balls (puri) which have to be puntured with the spoon and filled with the tamarind spiced water (pani) provided which has chopped chickpeas, potatoes and onions in it...Yum!

Gymkhana

A fabulous Michelin starred Indian restaurant which is worthy of repeat visits. With a colonial themed interior, from ceiling fans and Jaipur lamps to Maharajas hunting trophies, sitting in this venue you can imagine living the lifestyle in the British Raj. The name is aptly chosen to reflect the ambiance of the gymkhana clubs of that era where high society used to get together socially to eat, drink and be merry. The menu is exquisite and focuses on game meat which is unique for the London dining scene. Several seafood dishes do standout such as the duck egg bhurji with lobster served with a flaky parantha. Try the quail seekh kebab and wild boar vindaloo. If you like spicy food this is perfect. The waiter can also bring extra fried chillies to accompany your meal. There is always room for dessert and a must try is the Apple & Almond Halwa Tart served with Lachha Rabri. If you like your whisky, then do try the Indian Amrut, it goes well with this spicy cuisine.

The Taste of Gymkhana four course menu is recommended as you also receive side dishes of Dal Mahrani and Saag paneer, both vegetarian and truly awesome. Served on marble tables, the staff are truly knowledgeable about the menu and can recommend dishes to suit your tastes. Of the two floors, ground and basement, preference is for the basement which has a more warm, intimate, atmosphere and you can admire the quirky sketches and Indian sports prints which adorn the walls. The washrooms are worth a peek!

Jamavar London

Part of the The Leela group of hotels, resorts and palaces in India, this location is the first outside of the sub-continent. Set within walking distance of the Connaught Hotel in Mayfair, Jamavar is a welcome addition to the fine dining Indian culinary scene in London.

Offering a rich diversity of speciality cuisine from various parts of India, Chef Ghai, the master chef of this establishment (formerly from the Gymkhana group, another favourite of AL) has managed to use traditional cooking techniques for the regional cuisine.

There are three sections to the condensed menu; small plates, tandoor and curries. A selection of sides and accompaniments are also available. It is recommended to sample from each section to experience the vastness of the regional tastes and flavours.

Small plates represents a quirky twist on traditional street food found all over India. Idli sambar, a popular south Indian dish, idli is a savoury sponge cake and sambhar is watery lentils with vegetables, but at Jamavar it is served with lobster and aubergine sambar. Never before has this been tried and it is definitely something unique.

Another must try is the Chandni chowk aloo tiki. A north Indian speciality, these spiced potato fritters are named after the oldest and busiest market in Delhi, built in the 17th century by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and currently remains the largest wholesale market in India.

Scallop bhel again is another twist on the traditional, hand caught scallops are served on top of the spicy puffed rice with dollops of tangy chutney on the side, served in an interesting dish. For any die hard seafood fan, the Malabar prawns are delicious. Malabar is a coastal town in Kerala, South India and renowned for the freshest seafood.

From the tandoor menu the pheasant was tried and wow what a fine display it was. Cooked to perfection, it was served eloquently on the plate with sweet mango pickles, stuffed naans neatly cut into small triangles and other accompaniments.

No Indian meal is complete without a good curry and you will not be disappointed here. The lobster nerulli, is a signature dish, cooked in coconut milk and Laal Maas, 8 hour slow cooked lamb is always popular, especially as this can never be made at home, it was on point but preferable to have been more spicy.

From the accompaniments section the Jamvar Dal, slow cooked black lentils, is a must as is the Ghar ki Bhindi, okra, simple cooking but sumptuous flavours. These dishes make you realise that the technique used is just as important as the ingredients sourced.

Desserts to be tried here has to be the Gulab jamun malai, which is the Chef’s twist on the traditional cheesecake. It is very rich and can be easily shared.

Will be back to try the masala quinoa, wild tiger prawns and mango rasmalai.

The dining room at Jamavar London is elegant, which reflects the intricate Kashmir shawls of the 16th century from which its name is derived. The exquisite dark wood carved panelling with mother of pearl designed art work, large mirrors, high ceiling, soft lighting and chequerboard flooring creates an ambient setting. Every fine detail has been looked into from the crockery to the way the food is displayed and served. Even a cup of traditional Indian tea has a carved silver box of sugar on its own little tray served with it. Service is impeccable and there is seating downstairs including a private dining area if required.

Mr Todiwala's Kitchen

Found in the Hilton Hotel near Heathrow Airport Terminal 5, Chef Patron Cyrus Todiwala has brought his signature dishes from his highly acclaimed city restaurant, Café Spice Namaste, to this West London venue. The restaurant’s main feature and mascot is Roy, the huge 150 year old polo elephant brought over from India, which takes centre stage in the middle of the room. Floor to ceiling windows brings in lots of natural light and the quirky restaurant décor inspired by the Portuguese existence in Goa gives the impression of dining in the coastal town of Goa. There is an open-plan kitchen gives diners easy viewing into the well organised kitchen. Expect to find lots of twists in the food, which Cyrus has developed with only the freshest, seasonal locally sourced ingredients. Unique to this restaurant is the selection of beef and pork dishes which is unusual to find in many Indian venues and the fact that no food colouring is used. Various other meats, such as Venison, Duck and Ostrich find themselves on the menu. The ostrich bhunna is highly recommended.  Cholesterol free meat, roasted and cooked in a classic gravy.  The tandoori scallops another worthy dish. The menu is quite informative with all dishes having a reference to their Parsee/Goan heritage. The red rice for example, served with King Prawn coconut curry is part of the Goan staple diet. With difficulty arising from making a selection from the vast menu, there is a special ‘Gourmand Tasting menu’ available which gives the opportunity to sample a variety of dishes so that the tastes from various Indian regions can be savoured. Make sure to leave room for dessert as the Indian classic desserts all have a Cyrus twist to them. Cyrus has just won another award to add to his plethora of achievements, and that is of BBC Food personality of the year 2014. His cuisine is a definite must try. There is also a lunch set menu available. Todiwalla’s Kitchen has recently received its first AA rosette star of culinary excellence and it has been recommended in the Michelin Guide of 2014.

Ravi Shankar

A cheap and cheerful Indian vegetarian restaurant on Drummond Street in Euston, North London. This street is full of vegetarian restaurants but whats different here is that this one serves alcohol too! Very basic interiors and decor and all food served on traditional steel crockery.

Reasonably priced tasty food and the buffet is always popular. Get there on time to get best selection.

From the A la carte menu there is an extensive range of 'dosas' (lentil pancakes) a south indian speciality and the paper dosa pictured here is recommended, served with potatoes, coconut chutney and lentils.

The Regency Club

This is by far the best Indian and most reasonably priced in London. About forty minutes outside central London found in Queensbury, North West, this venue has been converted from a traditional pub and is now an 'Indian' pub still with the slot machines and dart board. Some quirky artefacts dating back have been kept such as the stained glass dome in the entrance and the  same lamp lights dotted around the room.

There is some booth seating along one side of the wall, comfortable for four people, lovely old school bollywood music plays in the background during the day and in the busy evenings there is either live sport shown on the numerous screens or latest bollywood tracks. There is even a bollywood jukebox!

It does get very busy with the local community so recommended to book.

The open kitchen is fascinating to watch all the chefs busy at work. As can be seen from the picutre the seekh kebabs are amazing. As are the chicken wings, garlic mogo, chicken makhani and lamb miskaki.

Definitely buttered naan to accompany all this and do try the 'fresh passion' jucie which is unique to this restaruant. It has some indian spicy in it and goes well with the cuisine!

Roti Chai Street Kitchen

Indian street food just beind Oxford Street. The perfect location place to unwind after a shopping spree. The ground floor of this venue is the fun, quirky street food cafe. With lots of authentic Indian artefacts displayed in the entrance and comfortable seating in the cafe. A nice menu which offers a great selection on the Indian classic street food dishes. Seen in this picture is 'Bhel' with masala chia, 'Papdi chaat' and 'Pau bun' with tamarind chutney. All portions are reasonably sized and good to share a few with your dinining companion.

Roxy Restaurant

This infamous restaurant known by the whole of west London as it has been established in the heart of Southall for the past three decades. Formerly Sagoo & Takhar, this is the place to visit for authentic Punjabi (North Indian) cuisine. Proper home-cooked style dishes served in informal surrounding. The no-fuss atmosphere is great, service is good and food just brilliant. It's also 'healthy' on the pocket too!

Do try their speciality which is 'makai roti' (cornmeal flatbread) and 'sarson saag' (buttery  spinach leaves with a mustard flavour) pictured here. This is the traditional dish served in the vlllages of Punjab and will keep you satisfied for atleast a day and a half!! Truly well cooked and very hard to replicate at home. Their mango milkshake is delicious too served in a pint glass!

Scarfes Bar, Rosewood London

Found in the ever so magnificent Rosewood London, an Edwardian, Grade II-listed building, Scarfes Bar, is the first bar to be themed around caricature art. Gerald Scarfe is the infamous artist behind the work with over 70 caricatures depicting well known personalities and celebrities such as David Beckham, Harry Potter, Boris Johnson and even Royalty. Unknown to the general public, the bar offers an exlcusive lunch menu which offers a unique twist on Indian cuisine. Chef Palash Mitra has focused on quality as opposed to quantity on his three part menu, kebabs, curries and specials with each dish cooked with the freshest ingredients available. Lamb chops cooked with ginger and mint is a nice starter. Expect to find Keralan 'Beef Biryani' which is a meat seldom seen on any Indian menu and so worth a taste. The butter chicken is cooked to perfection in a rich sauce of tomatoes and fenugreek. The seafood dish to definetly try is the tandoori tiger prawns which is served with garlic pepper buttered crab and flaky parantha! This is a wholesome dish to be savoured and not to be rushed. Quirky cocktails on offer to accompany this fine Indian cuisine are 'Seine River Fizz' which has ginger, basil, vodka and lemonade or 'Quirky Bloody Mary' with Indian spices.

 

The bar has cosy sofas, quiet corners, a central fireplace, comfortable bar seating and gives the impression of a sophisticated living room. It is a unique place to have an Indian luncheon. In the evenings there is nice selection from the bar menu of Indian fusion snacks with the sharing platter a wise choice as its served on a 'cricket bat.' Lots of quirky aspects to this bar which is a place to impress at a reasonable price.

The Kati Roll Company

A small Soho restaurant, which has only a single-item on the menu, but with a variety of options. The Kati Roll, a classic Indian flat bread (paratha/roti) which can be filled with either meat, vegetables, egg, cheese or a selection of these. Each ingredient has been marinated in a rich blend of Indian spice, giving an authentic, distinct taste to each Kati roll. It is popular as a take away. The small room has classic bollywood posters to give an authentic ambience.

Veeraswamy

Established in 1926, this is the oldest Indian restaurant in the UK and has a prime location on Regent Street. The luxurious, chic, grand décor exudes Maharajah splendour. There is even a display of vividly coloured Maharajah turbans. The food is exquisite ranging from gourmet style home cooking to the richness of the Maharajahs’ palace cuisines.

Woodlands

An authentic Indian vegetarian restaurant group with three restaurants around London. Specialising in both South Indian and North Indian cuisine which includes the clay over (tandoor). All the dishes do not contain any butter or cream so are much healthier and lighter than traditional Indian cuisine. The unique recipes and slow cooking methods provide flavoursome food. There is a quirky wine list contains only organic vegan/vegetarian wines sourced from independent growers. Their flavour complements the spiciness in the dishes. The majority of wines on the market are not suitable for vegetarians, a fact which is less well known.