What's the draw
Gunpowder was one of the first in the capital to build on the growing popularity of ingredient-led sharing plates by serving modern interpretations of classic regional Indian dishes, with street-food staples just as represented as curries and breads on the menus of its Spitalfields and Tower Bridge restaurants. Now, the group is looking to make moves in the at-home space with Empire Biryani, a service offering the eponymous dish – rice cooked with fragrant, stewed meat or vegetables in a crunchy pastry lid that's often the centrepiece for a celebration – alongside killer side dishes.
How it works
Highly spiced and robust by definition, biryanis and curries are pretty much ideal to send to diners partly cooked. The meal kit is minimal fuss, and minimal washing-up, too – a couple of dishes need transferring to an oven-proof dish or to be topped with hot melted butter for richness, but on the prep scale this is much more takeaway than tweezers.
If you've been to Gunpowder, you'll know it's never been a stranger to dishes packed with big flavours, redolent spices and excellent grilled and braised meats, and its home delivery delivers all of the above. A boti kebab, using beef instead of mutton, probably loses some of its usual succulence having been reheated, but the biryanis more than deliver, coming with an uncooked pastry top that crisps up beautifully in the oven while also keeping the rice and either 36-hour-braised lamb or softly cooked shahi mushroom light and airy by the time it comes out the oven. Curries, meanwhile, are no afterthought: the Hyderabadi egg curry has a beautiful depth of flavour and a sauce thick enough to eat on its own but perfect to pour atop of the rice. What's more, a feast for two at £50 is barely more than a neighbourhood takeaway and should see you through an evening meal with a little left for those all-important leftovers in the morning.
Delivery nationwide; empirebiryani.com