Papadum alert! In England, Chicken Tikka Masala is now considered as much of a national dish as roast beef, fish and chips, and Yorkshire pudding, and it’s slowly become the preferred plate of many in London. Indian food in the UK is nothing new—Indians startled settling in London in the 19th century—but nowadays, the popular curries of London are some of the finest outside of New Delhi, and Indian restaurants can be found on every high street in the UK. Even better, these curry houses are often open late at night, making it easy to get your naan fix whenever you please. Find the flavors of Mumbai at traditional eateries on Brick Lane, gourmet spots like Gymkana, which offers a menu of Indian cooking made infused with traditional British ingredients, and Benares, a Mayfair restaurant that boasts a Michelin star.
Claiming to be the oldest Indian restaurant in Brick Lane, this stalwart was here way before hipsters moved to East London (now they visit for an Indian meal after drinking ready-mixed cocktails in pouches). Order your authentic dinner hot with lemon madras or go for mild with kashmiri curry or a coconut-based korma. The menu offers several vegetarian options as well.
Combining traditional Indian cooking with British ingredients, and featuring a menu of cocktails infused with Asian spices, Gymkhana has been a game changer in how Indian food is perceived in the UK. Colonial clubs where the British Raj came to dine, drink, and play were the inspiration for this unique restaurant—and you’ve never had a kebab like this before.
Perfect for a quick lunchtime curry, the seven locations of Masala Zone were voted the Most Popular Restaurant Group featuring Indian street food in Zagat’s 2014 survey. The food’s not only good, it’s also a great value for a thali, the tradition of serving a half-dozen dishes in small metal bowls on a tray for a healthy, balanced meal.
This duo of Bombay café-inspired eateries puts a new twist on Indian food. Their specialty, Lamb Ranna Bun, can be traced to a battlefield feast given by Alexander the Great for King Pauava. The dish of leg of lamb in a sourdough bun with deep fried chilies accompanied by Dishoom London brewed beer is quickly becoming legendary in London’s food circles.
Modern Indian food with a side of luxury comes standard at Benares, a restaurant that’s won a Michelin star for past the eight consecutive years. The tasting menu is expensive, as one would expect, but it’s worth the price of £82 a head. On the a la carte menu, consider ordering Chukander Kofa, a dish of beetroot dumplings embellished with edible 24-carat gold.