Ask anyone which London Indian restaurant they love and you'll be met with a barrage of passionate responses. "Gymkhana! Dishoom! Bombay Bustle! Jai Krishna! Babur! Ganapati! The one right next to my flat that's always there for me when I'm dangerously hungover!" There are – to be frank – a huge number of Indian restaurants in London, many of which could not only lay claim to being the best Indian restaurants in the city but also take aim at the title of overall best restaurant in London while they're at it.
From affordable takeaways and YMCAs to the Michelin-starred premises that you'll need to take out a second student loan to eat at, there's a lot of excellent Indian food in the city. That alone made compiling this guide fairly difficult.
After all, your favourite London Indian restaurant doesn't just disclose to the outside world what sort of places you patronise, it says a lot about what you stand for as a person: your likes, your dislikes, even your potential income bracket. And the politics aren't left behind after you've sat down at the table, either. There's a great deal that you can deduce about a person based upon what they order. We've all got at least one mate whose eyes are guilty of darting from the chicken madras to the king prawn bhuna as soon as they realise you're footing the bill, and God knows that the toxic masculinity that pressures someone into ordering a vindaloo over a korma as some skewed emblem of manhood is still thriving at university rugby socials the country over.
Thankfully, there's so many excellent Indian restaurants in the city – from the old school classics to the newer, trendier upstarts – that you've got plenty of opportunities to find somewhere that's just right for you. After that, you've just gotta hope it remains open. The first dedicated Indian restaurant in London, the Hindoostane Coffee House, was opened up on George Street in 1810 by Sake Dean Mahomed. Mahomed – a man who was perhaps a little too ahead of his time – declared bankruptcy within just three years after opening HCH due to a lack of business. London obviously wasn't ready to have its collective taste buds head-locked into joyful submission just yet. But it sure as hell is now.
So, without further ado, let us help you find your new favourite London Indian restaurant - we think these 49 are the best in London at every price point. Bon appétit.
49 London Indian restaurants to try: £/£££
YMCA Indian Student Hostel
41 Fitzroy Square, W1T 6AQ
Despite what apprehensions you may have thanks to haunting memories of half-cooked cobbled together meals from your student days, it really is fun to eat at the Fitzrovia YMCA. This canteen-style dining hall has been a saviour to Indian expats for a good couple of decades now and – open to the public for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – there's not a reason that you shouldn't relive your halcyon days by having a hearty meal there. When it comes to affordability, you'll struggle to find better value for money in West London. The weekend lunch and dinner buffet costs £9. The mutton biryani if you're ordering a la carte? £5. The dal? £1.80. By all means fill your boots with as much as your coppers can get you but don't forget to save at least £2 spare for a sweet and cooling mango lassi. It's a London Indian restaurant well worth a visit.
320 Bath Road, Hounslow TW4 7HW
For a restaurant that puts all its efforts into cooking vegetarian dishes with love, affection and attention, one need look no further than Sangeetha. Located just a short walk from the tube station, this unassuming eatery does a cracking take on North Indian staples such as chole bhature as well as doing the goods on a range of South Indian classics like masala dosa. Worth the trek out to Hounslow? Yes, we'd have to say so. Keen home cooks can even buy Sangeetha's idli and dosa batter to take home with them to try and match up to Sangeeth's golden folded discs. The chances of you turning out a dosa as crisp and chewy as Sangeetha's? Slim-to-none.
161 Stroud Green Road, N4 3PZ
If you think it's impossible to find a London Indian restaurant serving banging vegetarian food, think again. Veggie cooking doesn't get much better than Jai Krishna. The thali for two is an excellent way to see how capable the restaurant is at just about everything. Chapatis are pliable and moreish; bhajis crisp and fragrant. However, a visit to Jai Frishna simply isn't complete without a couple of the 'Exotic Dishes' on the menu. Jeera Aloo (the restaurant's most popular dish) is a tart and tangy antidote to any one-note plates of potato you've had in the past and the chilli paneer can be cranked up to an eye-watering level of spice if you so desire. To leave without at least ordering one garlic paratha is absolute sacrilege. BYOBs don't get a whole lot better than this.
5 Brockley Cross, Brockley, SE4 2AB
Mother and daughter culinary tag team Nabeela Muqadiss and Saima Thompson are the women you've got to thank for this wonderful Punjabi and Pakistani restaurant in South London. As a North Indian state that borders with Pakistan, Punjab is home to a cuisine that shares a great many similarities with Pakistani cooking. The regularly changing menu at Masala Wala is a short and sweet introduction to the regional delicacies you'll find in both regions. The saag gosht is a soft and unctuous love letter to lamb that makes the perfect diving pool for the hot and homemade roti. A bottle of extra dry Guerreri Rizzardi Prosecco pairs excellently with the home-style flavours at play – so we'd recommend ordering that while you're at it, too. Teetotallers can stick to the fabulous rose lassi.
87 New Road, Whitechapel, E1 1HH
Needoo is a Punjabi food purveyor where meat rules the roost. It's not that the vegetarian dishes of bhindi bhagi aren't good – they are – it's just that the grilled and simmered meats are an echelon above. A next level delivery system of slow-cooked, tender morsels of chicken and lamb. Naan and roti fresh from Needoo's tandoor make for ample edible scoops for whatever rich gravy you've still got left clinging onto your karahi after you've had your way with it and a constantly rotating list of specials ensure Needoo isn't a one-and-done sort of restaurant. Go on Monday to get involved in a dangerous food affair with the lamb chop masala.
Shree Krishna Vada Pav
Feel like eating a vada pav? Want to try a London Indian restaurant that offers something a little different than tikka and naan? Shree Krishna Vada Pav should be your first port of call. Just £1 can get you a regular vada pav at one of SKVP's various premises and we're not lying when we're say they're some of the most satisfying sandwiches you'll get in the city. They're also affordable enough that you should really try every variant SKVP does when you do make a potato patty pilgrimage. The cheese vada pav isn't as weird as it sounds and the Schezwan [sic] vada pav is just as delicious as it does. Dishes outside of the vada pav realm also delight. An explosively named paneer bomb bursts with heat while the available-at-the-weekend-only sabudana khichadi is a fresh and refreshing rendition of the West Indian favourite.
148-150 Uxbridge Road, UB4 0JH
Eating a meal at Desi Tadka can be a rejuvenative experience for anyone that's become disenfranchised by the London dining scene. Tired of small plates menus that harp on about their low-intervention wine lists? The only thing that Desi Tadka harps on about is its kali mirch murgh chicken: a dish where a rollocking hit of black pepper accompanies tender-as-can-be poultry with a fraternal sense of care. All of the food comes served on metal plates – an ample reminder that it's the dish you're served, not what it's served on, that should remain the focal point of any meal out. Even if you're in the mood for a hasty saag or jalfrezi, an excursion to Desi Tadka is well worth your time.
As part of the renowned London vegetarian restaurant group, Sagar has rightly earned a reputation as a place to get in a fantastic meal. Simply seeing those letters above any of its premises should be enough to signal that you're going to be in for a good feed. The chefs at Sagar hail from Udupia – a small town in the soutwestern region of Karnataka – and deliver an extraordinary and adept vegetarian menu along with a number of Jain friendly dishes in tow. Available for just £4.95, Sagar's channa masala is a mood and half. As is the fragrant and filling paratha stuffed with cumin studded potato and tight chickpea morsels. Yes, traditional uttapams are branded as "lentil pizzas" in an attempt to entice those otherwise ignorant of the dosa's thicker, topping-friendly cousin, but it's a tactic that makes sense. Especially if it gets more curious eaters through the door and eating at Sagar. Because, honestly, that's what everyone should be doing.
148 Bethnal Green Road, E2 6DG
Indo-Chinese food plays an important role in the wider catchall of Indian cuisine. It's a style of cooking that's naturally developed as traditional Chinese ingredients and cooking techniques have been adopted and gradually adjusted to suit Indian tastes over a number of years. Bethnal Green's Mai'da specialises in that delicious marriage between the two cultures. Mai'da's extensive menu, that encompasses everything from king prawn biryanis to szechuan noodles, celebrates the immense diversity of both Chinese and Indian cooking traditions while also highlighting the numerous characteristics they share. An essential order at this takeaway favourite is the manchurian chicken or chilli paneer. Though, that being said, perhaps no dish better encapsulates Mai'da's mixed heritage than the mixed fried rice: an Indo-Chinese style rice where chicken, lamb, prawns and egg are all happily tossed together in soy sauce. Dessert doesn't pull its punches at Mai'da, either. If you're eating in, you're practically obliged to get the brownie sizzler – an Indian Instagram sensation that's truly got to be seen (and sampled) to be believed.
38 Holly Grove, Peckham, SE15 5DF
Ganapati is a South London Indian restaurant kitchen with a real sense of heart. The culinary influences at this Holly Grove restaurant come from the traditional home-style cooking techniques and street food of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The Ganapati vegetarian thali will set you back as little as £15 and fill you with all the following: sambar, dal, rasam, thoran, a glass of neer moru, a vegetable main, rice, chapati, chammanthi podi, a selection pickles, poppadoms, and a dessert to top it all off. Blimey. It all tastes great, and it hardly hurts that Ganapati does some good as well. Ganapati has a specific table assigned as a 'charity table' where the profits from the meal ordered there will go to Adventure Ashram – a charity that fights against human trafficking and works to support tribal children's access to education and healthcare in southern India. Which is ace. One word of warning: Ganapati doesn't do takeaway.
Curry Leaf East
20 City Road, EC1Y 2AJ
Curry Leaf East is an East London Indian that's dedicated to serving the finest plates of North Indian cooking it can muster. It's an Old Street favourite that's rarely seen without an approving hustle of customers eating inside. And for good reason. The delicate meat skewers from Curry Leaf East's tandoor are how we want all our animals to be served to us from now on while fluffy horse head-sized naan are as addictive as bread can get. Dishes served in the customary handi and tawa are also an echelon above your regular Brick Lane eatery. Get the laal maans (a Rajasthani specialty) for one of the most royally cooked lamb dishes in the whole of London.
268-270 Green Street, E7 8LF
The bright pink exterior of Vijay's Chawalla is a beacon of hope for any Forest Gate residents. The inexpensive vegetarian restaurant does a Gujarati thali that's, frankly, to die for and a gobi paratha that'll quickly replace cauliflower cheese as your favourite vessel for the veg. It's easy to get carried away when ordering at Vijay's when everything is as tasty as it is but at least Vijay's low prices mean that, at the very least, your bank account won't regret it if you do get a bit overzealous in your order. Besides, your flat mates won't be complaining much either when you return home with a doggy bag full of crispy bhajis.
With outlets dotted everywhere from Bangkok and Dubai to… Croydon, Saravana Bhavan is as consistent a restaurant chain as you're likely to find anywhere in the world. Saravana Bhavan even holds the world-record for having created the world's longest dosa – a 100ft behemoth that was made at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras. Which is, y'know, neat. Each London outlet of the franchise lives up to SB's international acclaim, featuring a range of traditional as well as contemporary Indian dishes on its menu. Whether you camp yourself in the 'bread corner' or 'dosa corner' of the menu, expect the highest standards. In fact, just about the only thing Saravana Bhavan doesn't do is takeaway. It's a London Indian restaurant to add to the 'to try' list, ASAP.
90 Tooting High Street, SW17 0RN
Hustle down Tooting High Street and get yourself to Jaffna House, a superb Sri Lankan restaurant that also happens to do cracking job at plates of South Indian food. Insert Hannah Montana you-get-the-best-of-both-worlds reference here. Jaffna House's duality means that Sri Lankan fried string hoppers and seafood kotthus are just as comfortable on the menu as dishes of chicken tikka masala and sheek kebabs. We'd recommend ordering from both sides to develop a genuine burning envy at how talented and ambidextrous the Jaffna House chefs are.
Dosa n Chutny
68 Tooting High Street, SW17 0RN
If you're looking for the best masala dosa in town, Dosa n Chutny needs to be on your hitlist. A crisp and tearable with a hot, well-seasoned medley of potato and onion nestled inside, it's the hero dish to end all hero dishes. Further adding to the feel-good vibe of the premises, Dosa n Chutny pared back interior and straightforward approach to cooking is a breath of fresh air, ensuring every dish delivers exactly on its flavour promise. With 20 different varieties of dosa available, you could quite easily order a different dosa every time you visit and still find you're not even close to having tackled the entire menu. Will we try and conquer it anyway? You betcha.
Diwana Bhel Poori House
121, 123 Drummond Street, NW1 2HL
If you find yourself near Euston station with an appetite for quality South Indian cooking searching Google for a London Indian restaurant to bunker down at, eating at Diwana Bhel Poori House is the move you need to make. The Drummond Street restaurant has been open since 1971 and is proof that you don't need to over-complicate things to keep customers happy. The vegetarian buffet (which you can tuck into for £6.95) is exceptional value for money – rifling with fresh dishes and salads that'll really make you test just how much all-you-can-eat-dal you're capable of ramming inside your body. The namesake bhelpuri is another essential.
106 The Broadway, Southall UB1 1QF
Kulfi, jalebi, barfi, gulab jamun. Indian sweets are pure poetry to both our ears and our stomachs. So, it's a good job that Chadni Chowk's Middlesex location is a bit of a hassle to get to otherwise we'd likely become a diabetic from the amount of delicious desserts we'd find ourselves "just nipping in quickly" for. Originating from Delhi, Chadni Chowk brings all the classics you'd expect to find at an Indian restaurant alongside a roster of its own innovative creations. The tandoori stuffed paratha is dench and anything but dainty dish – a wrap we'd happily eat with reckless abandon no matter what mood we're in. The gulab jamun sandwich? Well, it's simply the best dessert sandwich in London. Bar none.
18 Lacy Road, SW15 1NL
When it comes to the restaurants serving regional forms of Indian cooking in the capital, Kahmiri cuisine isn't all too common. Kashmir Restaurant, in Putney, is perfect evidence of why that needs to change. Because it's really, really good. Kashmiri specials like kabargah (crisp and delicious deep-fried ribs of lamb that are boiled in milk with Kashmiri spices before being cooked in their hot oil bath) and choq wangan (sliced and fried aubergine simmered in a sour tamarind infused gravy) are not only hard to find anywhere else, but even harder to find as good anywhere else.
Taste of Nawab
97 Colney Hatch Lane, N10 1LR
Opening up an Indian restaurant in Muswell Hill in 1996 isn't what you'd call an easy feat.What's all the more impressive isn't just that Taste of Nawab is still open, but that it hasn't let its high standards dropped since it opened all that time ago. Taste of Nawab's enticing sign above the door will let you know it specialises in both Indian and Bengali cuisine, however, it's only upon opening up the expansive laminated menu that you're able to realise just how wide ToN's cast its net. Regional specialties like a Mughlai rezella and a particularly tart and tamarind-heavy Parsi pathia are but two examples of how this North London favourite stretches its expertise across a range of traditional dishes. With a children's section of the menu designed for "for cool kids", Taste of Nawab is a spot for the entire family to enjoy.
The best Indian restaurants in London: ££/£££
This modern Indian tucked away in a tiny room off Artillery Lane exemplifies everything we love about Indian cuisine. The dishes aim high, don't rely too much on bells and whistles, and are best ordered to share. Crispy aloo chaat topped with sour-sweet yoghurt and drenched in spicy oil is one of the standout dishes. So, too, is seabass paturi maach — tender mustard fish steamed in banana leaf and served fogging at the seams. A lot of the dishes vary depending upon the time of year and the availability of seasonal produce. What that means for you and me is that you've always got an ample excuse to go to Gunpowder. Y'know, just in case they've shuffled things round or there's something brand-new coming out the tandoor that you simply must try, darling.
73 St James's Street, SW1A 1PH
Despite having moved from its original digs in Chelsea to St. James's in 2015, Chutney Mary hasn't lost of any of its sheen in the relocation. It's a classy, slick and a smoothly operated Indian restaurant where you won't struggle to spend a pretty penny, but also aren't required to in order to enjoy a great meal. Order sensibly and you'll come out with a bargain considering the high-standards of service and the gorgeous fare available. If a single dish summed up Chutney Mary it'd have to be the tandoori dover sole – a melding of traditional Indian cooking techniques with traditional British produce that delivers a flavour that's anything but.
45 The Green, UB2 4AR
Dal tadka might just be the dish that we'd choose as a starter for our death row meal. The dal tadka at Mehfil is a great example of how that simple dish can be occasionally otherworldly. Mehfil's luscious dal involves yellow lentils being tempered with a homemade Punjabi-style gravy of cumin seeds, curry leaves, tomato, garlic, ground spices, and a paddle of butter before being topped with a garnish of green coriander. It is… very good. All of Mehfil's biryanis are also essential orders; fragrant, simmering with a whiff of golden saffron and accompanied by a complimentary portion of refreshing raita. The Dum pukt chicken biryani has just the right nip of red chilli to keep you coming back for more while the king prawn biryani does a laudable job at not allowing its spices to overpower its sweet seafood commas. Get a Mehfil basket (rammed with enough naan, roti, and paratha to fell a horse) on the side for a button-bursting feast and a half.
With one restaurant in Stoke Newington and another in Mayfair, Rasa – and its iconic bright pink exterior and interior – has fast become a London Indian food institution. Founder Das Sreedharan has ensured Rasa is a prime location to get your fill of genuine Keralan cooking. Vegan and vegetarian feast options are available from £25 per head and remain an ideal way to see all that Rasa has got to offer. Which is lots. But Rasa is additionally a restaurant where you can get hard-to-find dishes like kappayum meenum (king fish cooked in a sauce made from onions, fried chillies, turmeric and ginger served with cassava steamed in turmeric water) and moru kachiathu (a sweet and sour combination of mangoes and green bananas cooked in yoghurt with green chillies, ginger and fresh curry leaves). No meal, of course, is complete without a selection of pickles and chutneys on the side and Rasa wouldn't let you leave without sampling its homemade range of both.
Co-founder Will Bowlby's vision of an Indian-inspired eatery that's not afraid to push the boat out has been brought to life through Kricket's eclectic dishes like Keralan fried chicken and Iberico suckling pig shoulder vindaloo. No, Kricket might not be a super traditional Indian restaurant but it is a damned good one. Plates of heart, watercress, kasundi, and spring vegetables sound a lot more disparate than they are as – when it comes to the spices employed and the flavour profile of the dishes – they don't sway too far from the basics. Whether you're going for the Sunday roast or a cheeky mid-week dinner, Kricket has got you covered.
A real rite of passage of becoming a Londoner is eating at Dishoom and from then on forever tweet-replying "the bacon naan at Dishoom" to anyone that dares to ask: "where should I eat breakfast today??". Dishoom has a reputation as somewhere you can get an excellent Indian without sending your bank account into an existential crisis. A restaurant where you can eat like a king on a pauper's salary and, if anything, we'd be willing to say it's actually better than its rep lets on. Find us a person in the capital that's been let down by a meal at Dishoom and we'll be mightily impressed. Because when it comes to consistently outstanding Indian eats (and a black daal that seductively delivers your entire recommended weekly butter intake in one dish), it's hard to beat Dishoom.
Café Spice Namaste
16 Prescot Street, E1 8AZ
Cyrus Todiwala's Café Spice Namaste is a pleasant restaurant where you can get your chops around some traditional Parsi cooking. It's not as über chic or hip as some of its East London contemporaries, but what Café Spice lacks in the cool department it more than makes up for in the heat coming out of its kitchen. Café Spice has, for around 22 years now, been a place to sit down and enjoy Parsi dhaansaak and Goan-inspired seafood dishes; an old faithful that, in our opinion, is still very much in fashion.
DUM Biryani House
187B Wardour Street, W1F 8ZB
Being able to charge £21 for a biryani admittedly takes some doing, but that's exactly what Dhruv Mittal's DUM Biryani House has gone and done with its lamb shank biryani. Perhaps the more miraculous feat is that, when eating that biryani, you might actually find yourself surprised it doesn't cost even more. The shank is so soft and rich that it coats every grain of rice with its meaty flavour, imparting an extra dimension of flavour that more one-note versions of the dish severely lack. The fact that all of the restaurant's namesake biryanis come with okra raita, mirchi salan, house acharr and papads on the side just adds to the value. Are there cheaper biryani in London? Undoubtedly. Are there better? We're not too sure.
Boxpark Wembley, 18 Olympic Way, HA9 0JT
Going to Wembley to watch a football game has generally been seen as completely normal behaviour. Going to Wembley just to eat has generally been viewed as far less… normal. That was, at least, until KoolCha came about. This Boxpark Wembley eatery from chef Rohit Ghai and Abhishake Sangwan is a casual and relaxed place to enjoy some primetime Indian fare. From the humble bambaiya ragda (one of the best potato dishes in London) to the creamy paneer makhani and namesake flatbreads, the food at KoolCha proves that high-end food doesn't always have to come out of a high-end location.
Riverlight Quay, 2 Nine Elms Lane, SW11 8AW
As the first overseas opening outside of India from the Choki Dhani restaurant group, this Nine Elms outler's mission statement is about celebrating all that's wonderful about traditional Rajasthani cuisine. Although the restaurant hasn't been open long, it's already developed a reputation as somewhere to get an excellent meal for a very fair price. Punchy regional dishes such as the khargosh (pulled slow cooked rabbit, bhaang and missi roti) and Jodhpuri murgh (chicken fillet, yellow split gram and chilli curry) are examples of dishes that can make even the most apathetic eater do a double-take. Choki Dhani might not be the first name on everyone's lips just yet – but its quality speaks for itself and we think it's only a matter of time before it's up there with the rest of London's hottest Indian restaurants. Go there. Now.
3 Portman Mews Street, W1H 6AY
Roti Chai deals in something that it likes to call "modern Indian soul food". Now, we're still not entirely sure what that is, but we can tell you one thing for certain: it's delicious. Whether you're dining in the street hawker and roadside cafe-inspired 'Street Kitchen' or the swankier dining room, you can expect to be fed, and fed well. When it comes to the Street Kitchen small plates you can't really go wrong with the hakka chilli paneer that comes served with a fiery Indo-Chinese warm salad and fresh green chill. If eating in the downstairs dining area the move to make is the Malabar mooli prawns. Those coastal-inspired spiced prawns arrive with mooli, snow peas and fine beans. If you're feeling up for something less traditional you could always tuck into the Kerala duck roast – a confit duck leg jazzed up with a generous helping of cinnamon, star anise, coconut, and side of thoran.
49 Maddox Street, W1S 2PQ
Dhruv Mittal's sophomore restaurant specialises in Lucknowi cuisine, a North Indian style of cooking featuring aromatic kebabs and flavour-packed, slow-cooked meat dishes. It's a style of cooking that's said to have been inspired by the dishes served to the Mughal kings. So, you'll be fairly unsurprised to learn that it's easy to eat like a king at Lucknow 49. The galawat kawab might just be the best example of that royally rich form of feasting; melt-in-your-mouth lamb patties flavoured with over 50 spices that were rumoured to have first been created for a toothless nawab. Any food we can consume without having to chew is a one-way ticket to getting a return visit from us.
236 King Street, W6 0RF
There's a solid reason that Indian Zing made our list of the best food and drink in Hammersmith. The reason is that it's excellent. Chef patron Manoj Vasaikar has ensured that every dish that comes out of the kitchen meets his exacting standards. It's a high-bar to match, for sure, but it's one that's vaulted time and time again by Goan specials like the pork vindaloo or lobster balchao – the latter being a dish that takes those pert luxury sea tails to another level via a hearty gravy infused with Goan jaggery and an arsenal of spices. Even the breads at Indian Zing are worth shouting about (or writing about) and make the ideal accompaniment to whichever dish takes your fancy on the day.
Kingly Court, Carnaby Street, W1B 5PW
Asma Khan is wonderful, simply wonderful. Her food is wonderful, simply wonderful. The all-women team running the kitchen at Darjeeling Express are – you guessed it – wonderful. simply wonderful. Finding something to dislike about this Kingly Court icon is nigh-on impossible unless you're either: A) an absolute bastard, or B) someone that lost their tastebuds in a bizarre express train-related tragedy. We hope neither is the case as Darjeeling Express is an Indian restaurant that deserves to be celebrated. As long as you can get a booking, that is.
119 Brockley Rise, SE23 1JP
Babur is an Indian restaurant for people that are serious about their food and drink. This isn't somewhere you take your mate who hasn't strayed away from his madras and peshawari naan combo that he ordered for the first time 10 years ago at a rugby social. No, Babur is where you take someone that gets emotional about food, someone that can be moved to tears by a chicken lababdar timed so perfectly that it puts all other pieces of poultry to shame. Babur is where you come to pay homage to a plate of buffalo lal maas; a mass of ghee rice that arrives in front of you coated by a thick sheet of clove-smoked, Rajasthani-spiced wonderment with flecks of crispy okra alongside an accompanying glass of malbec. Babur opened in 1985, so if you don't know by now, there might be no hope for you. But if you know, you know.
1-5 Bloomberg Arcade, EC4N 8AR
Brigadiers is a pub with a difference. A tasty and tantalising difference that will flirt with your tongue till it's eating out of the palm of Brigadiers' hand. Quite literally. Located in Bloomberg Arcade, Brigadiers is an Indian barbecue 'n beer venue inspired by the army mess bars of India. Coming from the same group behind Trishna and Gymkhana, Brigadiers ramps every item on its extensive menu up to 11. The masala chicken skins and chilli pork scratchings blow all the bar snacks you've ever had in your life out of the water. Unlike the majority of the Indian restaurants on this list, meat is the focal point of Brigadiers. From the Nepali bhutwa lamb belly ribs to the chargha rotisserie chicken, every protein-dense dish reminds us why we're very happy to be omnivores.
Vivek Singh is a man who knows how to run an Indian restaurant. With four renowned London restaurants in the form of The Cinnamon Club, Cinnamon Bazaar, and two Cinnamon Kitchen outlets (one in the City and the other in Battersea), you could happily confine yourself to only eating the food that's been given Singh's seal of approval and find yourself satisfied. As the slightly more relaxed offering in his portfolio, Cinnamon Kitchen is a light and laidback location for a quick lunch or dinner on a whim. The weekday express lunch offer can net you any dish and one side for £12.00. Which is fab. A dangerously rich tandoori spiced venison may be one of the kitchen classics but we'd keep things simple when eating at Cinnamon Kitchen and stick to the tried and tested Chettinadu-style mutton and the vegan gobhi stir fry.
72-76 Western Road, UB2 5DZ
There's an awful lot about Brilliant that's brilliant. Just take a brief glance its history, for example. The first Brilliant restaurant was opened up in Kenya back in the fifties by the Anand family. After political pressures in Africa forced them to leave the country, the Anands decided to continue the legacy in their new homeland and thus opened the first Brilliant Restaurant on Western Road in Southall in 1975. That's where you can still find the restaurant today, serving up North Indian Punjabi food with a unique Kenyan influence. Think masala fish where the tilapia fish chunks are simmered in a spicy Kenyan masala or the plate of fall-apart nyama choma (Swahili for "grilled meat") lamb ribs barbecued in Brilliant's secret Kenyan mix.
The best Indian restaurants in London: £££/£££
10 Lincoln Street, SW3 2TS
Close your eyes and try to remember the last moment in your life you felt truly at peace. We want you to hone in on that feeling of content, ease yourself into its gentle lull, and let your entire being momentarily drift off into a state of bliss. Right. Good. Now open your eyes and be faced with the sad reality that it's 11 o'clock on a Tuesday, you've already eaten the lunch you packed last night, and you're 80% sure that your office chair is giving you back problems. Yeah, not very blissful, this life lark, is it? If you do want to feel that ecstasy again, we'd recommend getting down to Kutir and ordering the faultless paneer lababdar. It's heaven.
42 Albemarle Street, W1S 4JH
Gymkhana was awarded a Michelin star in 2014 and, boy, did it earn it. From the decor to the service, every facet of Gymkhana is nigh-on perfect. It's a restaurant that feels special. Going to Gymkhana is an occasion and a reason to get butterflies before you leave the house. Dishes don't just please: they thrill. Mangalorean guinea fowl pulimunchi with a malabar paratha for sopping up those sauces takes that game bird into another stratosphere while even otherwise simple portions of aloo chaat are given the sort of depth and character development that usually takes nine seasons for a HBO series to fully flesh out. Gymkhana is definitely one of the best Indian restaurants in London and, honestly, it might be the best Indian restaurant in London.
8 Mount Street, W1K 3NF
As the self-proclaimed "culinary jewel" of The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts group, Jamavar is a restaurant that knows its worth. Rightly so, too. Jamavar was awarded its first Michelin star within a year of its opening. Which just goes to show that first impressions mean a hell of a lot. Jamavar is your mate from uni that went straight into their dream grad scheme after graduating and now earns a tidy six-figure salary with a mortgage on a flat in Bethnal Green that they share with their dangerously attractive partner. Confident riffs on traditional dishes shine bright in Jamavar's crown. Duck seekh kebab is moist as it gets and bursting with a warming medley of spice while the alleppey sea bass is delicate and fragrant affair; a simmering Kerala-spiced coconut milk gravy with raw mango glossing over the flakes of fish like an A-grade buffer.
1 Wilbraham Place, SW1X 9AE
You can't expect an Indian restaurant in Chelsea to be cheap. The rents are high, the locals are affluent, and there's no reason why a restaurant producing such high-quality food (and using such high-end ingredients) shouldn't charge a fair amount for the trouble. In spite of all that, Peter Joseph's Kahani remains a restaurant where you can really get your money's worth. The finest seasonal and traditional British ingredients are brought to life with heady spices and traditional Indian cooking techniques. The lush 90-seater is somewhere to come when you want to turn that special night out into an extra special one.
66-70 Baker Street, W1U 7DJ
Swanky Indian restaurants in West London are like the opposite of hen's teeth. Let's just they're like shark's teeth for clarity's sake. Because there's a lot of them. Yet, even then, Ooty still manages to stand out with its sharp, incisive service and unpretentious vibe. The food is grand, too. Kori gassi chicken is a definite standout: the Mangalorean-style gravy has a complexity you won't find at a Brick Lane B.Y.O.B., coddling your tongue in a velvet curtain of coconut and roasted chilis. O-O-T… Y? Because you oughta!
The Cinnamon Club
The Old Westminster Library, Great Smith Street, SW1P 3BU
Vivek Singh's The Cinnamon Club is an icon. Set in a Grade II-listed (which used to be Westminster Library) food explorers the world over come to London just to visit this Indian fine dining institution. It's also one of those rare restaurants that lives up the hype. Contemporary Indian cuisine has, after all, never looked so gorgeous as it does coming out of The Cinnamon Club's bustling kitchen. Sharing mains (designed for two) that come at your served tableside are a good way to getting full The Cinnamon Club experience; therefore, our advice to you is to get the old Delhi style butter chicken on the bone. That handsome beast comes with black lentils, pilau rice, and garlic naan. It's perfect.
15-17 Blandford Street, W1U 3DG
Yes, Trishna's got one of those fancy Michelin stars that chefs are always squabbling over but it's also got something much, much better: a Dorset brown crab dish swimming in a paddling pool of coconut oil, pepper, curry leaf, and garlic. That dish alone is enough to convince us that Trishna is one of the best Indian restaurants in London. The 6-course 'Taste of Trishna' menu is a proper culinary adventure and perhaps the best way we can think of to spend £70 in Marylebone. Aside, of course, from getting an Uber XL home after you've eaten far too much of Trishna's high-end fare and simply can't face tubing it up with the plebeians.
29 Maddox Street, W1S 2PA
We're firm believers that all restaurants should have alliterative names. Sort of. A bit. Well, not really actually. But you've got to admit there's something incredibly satisfying about saying "Bombay Bustle" out loud. Go on. Do it now. No one's listening… Done it? Good. Bet that felt lovely, didn't it? All that plosive intensity bursting from your lips like a pop of Hubba Bubba bubblegum. Boh! Buh! Just feels enormous, doesn't it? Bombay Bustle. Bombay. Bustle. Great name for a restaurant. Oh, you want to know about the food? It's practically faultless. The brunch especially so.
16 Albemarle Street, W1S 4HW
Progressive plates of meetha achaar pork ribs; divine dishes of tandoori scottish salmon; the food at Indian Accent is the kind we could wax lyrical about all the livelong day. The seven-course tasting menu is one of the best ways to taste everything that chef Manish Mehrotra has got to offer. If Mehrotra could serve his blood, sweat and tears on a plate for guests to consume, we're pretty sure it'd be on the menu. Seeing as the Food Standards Agency would likely have a lot to say about that, you'll have to sate yourself with baked sea bass in Amritsari masala butter instead.
Courtfield Road, SW7 4QH
Bombay Brasserie has been a London dining "destination" since 1982 and, even in today's competitive marketplace, it remains one of the best Indian restaurants in London today. Not just for its food but more so for the overall experience you get eating there. The Bombay Bar is an opulent place to grab a quick glass of champers before you feast. Followed, of course, by pristine plates of tempered spinach and generous kebab platters that only add to the grandiose allure of the eating space. Bombay Brasserie could likely get away with cooking terrible food and you'd probably still find yourself somehow enticed by its magic. We're just glad that they've decided to make the food magic as well.
20 Queen Street, W1J 5PR
When it comes to the best Indian restaurants in London, you simply can't ignore Tamarind and the impact that it's had on the entire London dining ecosphere. The first Indian restaurant in London to receive a Michelin star, Tamarind has helped to popularise the cuisine with a set of hoity toity tyre followers who might never have previously given a lababdar a second look. For that, we owe it a lot. We also owe it a lot for introducing us to the concept of a rabbit seekh kebab – a tandoor cooked bunny stuffed with dried tomatoes and raisins that would give Elmer Fudd a pleasure-induced heart attack. Tamarind is a top dog. Don't doubt it.
41 Buckingham Gate, SW1E 6AF
Seafood is the focal point of Quilon. That's not to say it doesn't do dishes of braised lamb shank and kori gassi justice, it's just not where its expertise lies. Seafood moilee (cubes of halibut, prawns and potato gently poached in a moilee sauce); lemon sole cafreal (marinated with goan spices and herbs); prawn masala (sweet prawns cooked in a rich but not overpowering onion, tomato, mustard, curry leaves and coconut gravy). Those are the moves to make. In fact, all of the fish dishes at Quilon are top drawer contenders and make a return visit a must. Quilon's even got a beer tasting menu if you fancy seeing what it's like to drink a beer that's been thoughtfully paired with a piece of cod rather than being used to coat it in a crunchy deep-fried batter.
Halkin Arcade, Off Lowndes Street, SW1X 8JT
Amaya is one of the best Indian restaurants in London. Especially when it comes to the open grill. If you've ever wanted to find out just how high of a flavour ceiling chargrilled vegetables have, Amaya is a location that should be on your list. We've never been so seduced by a grilled piece of aubergine before and maybe never will be again. The prices aren't cheap but don't forget that you're eating in a Michelin star restaurant. Which you won't, to be honest. The dimly lit and sultry interior just reeks of class and sophistication. Thankfully, you don't have to have either to eat there. Just an appetite for good food.