The Best Indian Restaurants In London guide image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

LDNGuide

The Best Indian Restaurants In London

From white tablecloth places to canteen-style spots, these are our 16 favourite Indian restaurants in the city.

Sometimes you’ll be walking around, minding your own business when—what’s that—the clouds all start looking deceptively like lamb chops and your fingers have typed lamb madras into Google of their own accord. Maybe that’s how you ended up finding this guide, in which case, welcome. We’re here to support, encourage, and enable your craving for excellent Indian food. The best Indian food available in this great city of countless Indian restaurants, in fact. This guide has all of the unmissable options covered, from a sensational wild muntjac biryani in Mayfair to comforting Keralan classics in Tooting. Onwards for venison keema naan, fruity kofte zardaloo, buttery keema pao, and of course, sizzling lamb chops. 

THE SPOTS

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8.9

Bibi

££££

42 N Audley Street, London
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​​When you need a break from your usual order, turn to Bibi. Every dish at this high-end Mayfair spot is exciting and innovative. Grilled lahori chicken in a cashew and yoghurt whey sauce is so tender and creamy, you’d think it was the star of the show. But then the raw orkney scallop in a lemonade dressing arrives at your table and makes you feel things you didn’t think you could feel for a mollusc. You’ll realise that there’s no way you’ll be able to pick a star of the show until you’ve tried everything here. Which you absolutely should. The counter is perfect for date night, but if you manage to bag one of the booths for you and a couple of friends, then you’re winning.


If the combination of the words ‘butter’ and ‘chicken’ and ‘wings’ interest you, as well ‘whisky’ and ‘vending’ and ‘machine’, let us introduce you to Brigadiers. The Indian barbecue restaurant in the heart of The City is a straight up good time. Superb bone marrow biriyani, butter chicken wings, and the best lamb chops in London. Come and watch the football at the bar and retire to the pool room afterwards. Or come and sit in a mahogany-clad booth and crack into the martinis on tap. Whatever happens, you’re not leaving here early. 


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If you’ve tried London’s best pani puri, then you probably already know about this casual spot on The Broadway in Southall. And if you haven’t been here, then you should stop making claims that aren’t true. Rita’s Chilli Chaat Corner is a small, canteen-like spot, filled with shoppers coming from the market and families popping in for a midweek dinner consisting of excellent yoghurty samosa chaat, and refreshing, citrussy pani puri shots. Come here for some of the best Indian street food you can find in London. And order plenty of chaat—there’s a reason it’s in the name. 


Gymkhana is an incredibly glamorous restaurant that’s perfect for doing incredibly glamorous things like eating venison keema naan while discussing whether the stiletto or slingbacks are a superior shoe. Over in Mayfair, it’s a moody sophisticated space complete with intimate booths, exceptional service, and a wild muntjac biryani that is the single best use of pastry since the hallowed invention of the cheese straw. A meal here won’t come cheap but it’s entirely worth it for elevated classics that will stay with you long after your final bite of the tandoori masala lamb chops. 


Although its name refers to a member of the monarchy, The Tamil Prince is the coming together of two other British institutions. The pub and the curry house. The Islington restaurant is on a quiet corner off Caledonian Road, but nothing about the food served at this cool, casual spot is paired back. Onion bhajis are wild, flailing vortexes of turmeric-stained, deep-fried onion. Grilled tiger prawns straight off the grill glow orange while being blackened from char. The channa bhatura is a kind of delicious deep-fried UFO. Is it a pub? Is it a restaurant? It doesn’t really matter. It’s a place you should go in numbers big and small.


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. Zone out to calming music, admire the beautiful paintings, and snack on crispy, spiced cubes of fried paneer 65. Plates of lacy, light appam and flaky barotta are a must-order, as are fragrant beef fry and beef roast. Richly spiced Kerala prawn or fish curry should also be on your table. Although you could come here for a midweek date night, moving with a group is best so you can work your way through all the dishes. Just keep in mind it’s a small space, and walk-in only.


Tayyabs has long been the go-to place for Londoners to let their hair down and relax with some consistently delicious Punjabi food. The legendary, BYOB Whitechapel spot is famous for a couple reasons. One is the constant snaking queue outside on a Friday night to get a table inside the raucous, sprawling restaurant. The second is their sizzling lamb chops—so good that they were sent into space for alien life forms to enjoy as well. Probably.


This vegetarian and vegan mini-chain has locations in Hounslow, Ilford, and Harrow, all specialising in vada pav—a slider-sized Maharashtran snack of deep-fried potato in a little doughy white bread bap, alongside whacks of chilli and coconut chutneys. As far as handheld, two-gobble snacks go, these are very much up there. The Harrow location, like all of them, is a colourful, casual, fast food-ish space that’s just as good for a solo lunch as it is a quick and delicious good-value dinner. If you’re after something heartier and more gravy-heavy, get the vada misal or the methi malai mutter, and be content in the knowledge that very little here costs more than £10.


One trip to this Tooting restaurant and you’ll be googling the local rental market. A homely restaurant on a bustling corner of Mitcham Road, Vijaya Krishna has been serving a truly epic masala dosai that laughs in the face of conventional plate sizes, and delightfully fiery lamb madras since 1994. This spot specialises in Keralan cooking and the warm, friendly servers will take you on a personal tour through the long menu featuring assertive pen points that mean ‘you absolutely should order this’. First stop, the chickpea-loaded chilli chana, then on to the life-affirming vegetable and coconut medley avial. You’ll have a great trip and the relaxed, simple setting lets the food do all the talking. Everyone should want Vijaya Krishna to be their local, but no matter where you’re based, that humongous masala dosai is worth travelling for. 


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7.9

Pure Indian Cooking

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Whenever we’re floating around SW6, and sometimes even if we’re not, we like to stop in at this top-notch Indian restaurant on Fulham High Street. Partly because it’s always a convenient spot for walk-ins, but mostly because the menu is filled with familiar classics done well. From the tandoor-grilled malai chicken that’s buttery and tender, to the Telangana prawn masala that’s packed with heat and pairs perfectly with the refreshing raita. This is a spot where you can order with confidence, whether it’s from the biryani section or the eight-course tasting menu that begins with citrusy pani puri shots and eases into some of the best dal makhani you'll find in a London restaurant.


Gunpowder’s original Spitalfields location taught us that some lamb chops are worth clocking out early and travelling across the city for. And their Soho location isn’t any different. Except that it’s in Soho, and rather than exposed brick, there’s gold detailing, a heavy curtain that leads to a private dining area, and a few menu items that you’ll come specifically to this branch for. Yes, mutton roll, we’re talking about you. An essential order—if it's available—it’s spiced minced meat in a little pastry parcel, that you’ll want to order another five of after your first bite. But don’t worry if it’s not on when you visit, because there’s a whole lot more on this menu that you should try. It’s a great spot for dinner with a group of friends, or a long, satisfying lunch.


Calling all fans of alliteration and buttery keema pao. We have a feeling you’re going to like Bombay Bustle. A Mayfair restaurant that looks like a train carriage—think Orient Express rather than that 23.45 National Rail journey featuring a 14-year old trying to fashion a skateboard out of a sandwich packet—with cooking that is more relaxed than the decadent setting. Don’t get us wrong, the perfectly charred lamb chops arrive on a golden platter and the serving spoons are distinctly Anthropologie, but there’s something homely about the big portions, sharing starters, and the can’t stop, won’t stop nature of the mini poppadoms. The dals are oh-so moreish and hands down some of the best in the city. 


A good paratha is something we’d walk 20 minutes for. An excellent paratha, like the one at this restaurant serving South Indian-inspired dishes, is something we’d cross the city for. Ganapati is a cosy restaurant on Holly Grove in Peckham with a menu of exciting things like thaire vadai—a savoury lentil doughnut soaked in yoghurt, poppadoms with spicy garlic pickles—and our favourite thing here: the lunchtime-only thali. Come here on a weekday afternoon and you’ll get one of the most filling, delicious meals around for under £15. We’re talking, a choice of vegetarian, fish, or chicken curry, rice, poppadoms, an excellent raita, and a mung bean salad. And because we are strong believers that bread is the key to happiness, make sure you try one of their flaky Kerala parathas as well. You’ll come here for the lunch deal, then back again for dinner, then probably do it all again until you’ve tried everything on the menu.


London has a whole lot of fancy Indian restaurants but as anyone who’s ever attempted to wear a playsuit on a night out knows, comfort is king when it comes to having a good time. Namaaste Kitchen is a favourite among Camden locals, and it has that distinctly ‘90s upmarket look that’s the perfect setting for getting cosy with pomegranate tokri chaat and an apricot kofte zardaloo that brings a whole new meaning to fruity. A great shout for vegans, vegetarians, and devoted meat eaters alike, this is the kind of restaurant you visit every time you get a craving for a quality rogon josh alongside the soothing sound of the tandoori grill sizzling. 


Most meals at South Indian restaurant Hyderabadi Spice start with ordering biryani and end with spooning leftovers into foil containers. At the low-key East Ham spot, the fragrant and expertly spiced rice dish is king. Every table ends up strewn with stray golden grains that are cooked dum-style (with a pastry lid), and served as a glorious mound on plates or in handis, layered with tender chicken, lamb, or prawns. Know that Hyderabadi Spice’s excellent biryanis are no secret and this spot gets busy in the evening, so book ahead. But whether you come with the whole family, friends, or just for a casual date night, servers are accommodating. They’ll make room for buggies, set out highchairs, and provide plenty of takeaway boxes when it’s clear ordering starters, haleem, naan, and the epic biryani for two was actually too much. 


Thattukada’s chicken 65 is the only food we know that’s Cheeto’s Flamin’ Hot-coloured, and that is very much a compliment. The deep-fried chunks of chicken—marinated in dazzling red chilli powder, curry leaves, and more—are the way to start your meal at the popular Keralan spot in East Ham. The walls of this low-key, brightly lit restaurant are covered with images of palm trees and crystal blue water, but almost every family and group of friends are focused on the extensive menu and the food in front of them. Fish moilley, a mild, coconut-heavy curry, is a delicious Keralan speciality that belongs on your table, alongside vegetable thali, a brilliantly pungent chicken curry, stringy parathas, and a tonne more. Given the size of the menu and the fact that every big group seems to leave with something in a takeaway box, you should absolutely come to Thattukada en masse.

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