16 Of London’s Best Curries
photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch
Britain’s love of curry is no secret. And given the wealth of communities and cuisines in London, there's a huge amount of spicy, comforting, and gluggable curries at our fingertips from creamy katsu to sour gaeng som talay. Depending on your mood you can go for something Indian, Thai, or Caribbean—and here we’ve picked out some of our favourites.
Walk past this Sri Lankan spot at the quieter end of Tooting High Street any night of the week and you’ll catch a glimpse of tables filled with mutton kothu rotis and curries. Apollo Banana Leaf is as much for a laid-back, catch-up with friends as it is a solo pick-me-up. In both cases, the curries here are a must-order. The ceylon chicken in particular is excellent—the meat is tender and the creamy, aromatic sauce should be licked clean off the plate. Make sure to get the dosa and the coconut rice too.
Whether it’s gang keow wan nua (beef green curry), goong pad bai cha plu (southern prawn curry with betel leaf), or gang hang leh (Burmese-style pork curry)—the curries you’ll eat at Singburi are likely to be up there with the best of the best. Nothing that comes out of the kitchen of Leytonstone and London’s number one restaurant disappoints and the ever-changing curries on their specials board are no different. Expect things to go from meltingly smooth stewed chunks of beef to sauces full of buzzing green chilli and lush pink crustaceans.
Gaeng Som Talay
Sweet, sour, salty, spicy—the best Thai food hits all of these notes like the London Symphony Orchestra, and they’re all singing in this orange curry from Plaza Khao Gaeng. The Tottenham Court Road restaurant is an homage to curry canteens all over Thailand and, more specifically, specialises in southern Thai cooking. The gorgeously sweet and soft gaeng massaman neua (beef massaman curry) is excellent, but it’s the gaeng som, which mixes seasonally changing seafood like mussels and squid in a sauce that becomes gradually molten, that stands out. It’s a must-order if it’s on. Noses will sniff and brows will be wiped.
Pork Katsu Curry
From Wagamama Islington’s location on top of the Angel Centre, you can look towards (but not quite see) where Tanakatsu is. Regardless, you should walk down the stairs and head towards this katsu curry specialist over the UK’s favourite. The low-key restaurant offers a few varieties of thick katsu curry and, for under £20, it’s a familiar and irresistible meal. The pork katsu, with juicy meat and a chunk of fat on the end, is a favourite.
One of our favourite things about Darjeeling Express in Kingly Court is the cosy atmosphere and that staff act like you’re a guest in their actual home. But closely after that, it’s the Indian curries. Specifically this creamy vegetarian number. The unbelievably soft paneer feels like it’s 99% air, and the orange coconut-heavy sauce is silky and slightly sweet. It’s our go-to vegetarian curry whenever we’re in central.
Chicken Tikka Masala
Karahi dishes are a highlight at this Pakistani spot in Tooting, which has been open since 1995. From the rich and spicy king prawn karahi to the chicken tikka, to the zingy paneer number—this spot makes a top-notch curry. The chicken tikka masala is particularly good. The thin sauce (rather than a cream-heavy variation) is silky smooth and light, which makes it the perfect companion to a biryani. The king prawn version is also a winner.
Dry Meat Curry
The legendary Punjabi restaurant in Whitechapel is best known for its sizzling lamb chops and rowdy queues of eager BYOBers, but its dry meat curry is just as consistent. Lamb chunks are marinated in spices and stewed until falling apart. It’s the perfect constant to pick up and scoop with naan, and you’ll more than likely need a couple on your table.
Few things are as satisfying as sitting down with a box bursting with rice and peas, and a couple of ladles of gently stewed mutton in a warmingly spiced curry sauce. It’s what you should expect when you go to Jay Dees, as the Notting Hill Caribbean takeaway is an expert in generous cooking and flavours that you can’t help but dig into when you’re right outside or round the corner. Curry chicken and mutton are go-tos, but it’s the latter—with slowly simmered, gently stewed pink strands of meat that fall from the bone—we find ourselves ordering out loud before our brain has realised what’s going on.
The fact that pepper pot is only on the menu occasionally at this Elephant and Castle spot only enhances the flavours of Kaieteur Kitchen’s cooking of Guyana’s national dish. There are all manner of cuts—beef, oxtail, lamb—and it all falls apart in the deepest of brown sauces that’s full of cassava, cinnamon, and cloves. Get it with spinach rice—it’s the perfect nutty and slightly bitter foil to this layered, warming, treat of a dish—and plenty of roti. None of that sauce should be spared.
Hai Cafe’s yellow curries very much fall into the clichéd category labelled ‘hug-like’, but that’s because this tiny Vietnamese spot in Clapton is the genuine kind of homely. There’s only one type of curry on the menu (a yellow one) and it’s full of a soothing range of stodgy vegetables like carrots and pumpkins. You can add tofu, vegetables, chicken, or king prawns but it’s the punchy, rich sauce and Hai Cafe’s thoughtful accoutrements—pickled chillies, homemade deep-fried shallots, pumpkin seeds, and more—that are the stars of the show.
Bone Marrow Varuval
Hoppers' bone marrow varuval is a soft-as-silk curry that will have you pawing for roti to mop up its rich, beef-laced, creamy coconut sauce. There’s no doubt it’s one of London’s ‘you gotta get it’ curries. Ever since the Sri Lankan spot first opened in Soho, people have been patiently waiting to dig into this wobbling bowl of goodness. Coconut, cardamom, and curry leaves are pungent throughout but it’s the carefully scraped bone marrow—quivering and ready to collapse into the rich sauce via a silver scoop—that takes this curry to the next level.
Sharmaji’s Lahori Chicken
The first time we tried the Lahori chicken curry from this Indian restaurant in Mayfair, it set off alarm bells in our brains. Alert the group chat, say a prayer, text your mum a picture and ask her why she can’t cook like this. Sharmaji’s Lahori chicken is just that good. Tender grilled chicken arrives in a pool of creamy cashew and yoghurt whey sauce that we’d sip through a straw. You can get a bowl of this on Bibi's lunchtime à la carte menu, or on the evening set menu, because after all it is the best dish here. Paired with the kaima yakhni pulao, it’s an unbeatable combination.
Kerala Prawn Curry
Located on a residential corner of East Ham, Udaya Kerala is a small, welcoming spot you’ll return to again and again. As much for the excellent South Indian dishes as the laid-back atmosphere. Fish and seafood dishes should be a priority, in particular the Kerala prawn curry. It’s warming and richly spiced—specked with mustard seeds and dried chillies which impart a subtle heat, and tender prawns which add sweetness.
Unlike most of the other dishes on this list, beef rendang is a dry curry. But what it lacks in sauce, it makes up for in slow-cooked beef that’s so unbelievably tender, there’s a strong argument for it to be classified as a liquid. At Rasa Sayang, a bustling Malaysian spot in Chinatown, you’ll find the kind of wholesome, nutty beef rendang you’ll crave at least once a month. The place is usually packed out, so make sure you book a table. Yes, even on a rainy Tuesday.
Negombo King Prawn Curry
This family-run, comfortable, Sri Lankan restaurant on Worcester Park’s Central Road is home to some of the city's finest mutton rolls, a ceylon chicken curry that packs some serious spice, and some roti tacos we’re very into. But this is a place that knows its way around seafood, so the standout dish at Colombo Kitchen is the Negombo king prawn curry. It's a creamy, coconut-heavy dish inspired by the chef’s home town. Eat it with rice or a flaky paratha—just get it.
Malabar Monkfish Curry
Calling the malabar curry at Fatt Pundit creamy is like calling penguins ‘kind of cute’. It’s a big understatement. The sauce is buttery and smooth, with a hint of sweetness from the coconut, and a substantial piece of monkfish that flakes apart at the touch of a fork. It’s the kind of “oh-my-god-this-is-incredible” curry that’s worth going out of your way for, especially when eaten with the egg Szechuan fried rice. Plus it doesn't hurt that the rest of the menu at the Indo-Chinese spot in Covent Garden is packed with exciting-sounding things that actually taste exciting too.