Curry & London. Curry houses in London are one of the best ways to spice up your food. Once upon a time, this was a food full of the exotic and intoxicating mysticism of India … Now it’s as British as salt and vinegar drizzled fish and chips, roast beef, and crispy Yorkshire puddings, or oozingly delicious jam roly-poly and custard.

Indian food is known for its Curry! It has traveled light-years from the early days when a lurid orange tikka masala was the only option available; now it’s impossible to walk past an Indian restaurant promising spicy meat, soft bread, or fragrant rice without inhaling and being instantly transported to that far-off land of eastern promise. If you’re in London and looking for the best places to fulfill a curry craving, you’d do well to start with any one of these curry houses in London!

Note: This post was originally published in 2015, but updated to reflect our new favorites! Please contact each restaurant to confirm opening times and hours – COVID restrictions change frequently!

North India Curry (London)

North Indian curries are probably the most common and recognizable to the Western palate as they are typically meat or vegetable-based, use plentiful amounts of luscious ghee in their cooking, and serve their meals alongside fat, fluffy naan slices of bread. Some of the dishes more familiar to your palate include creamy Kormas often made with yogurt and almonds, and Butter Chicken, a light curry full of beautiful flavors. The Aladin Curry House on our East End Food Tour in London offers a generous helping of moreish, well-spiced chicken in their korma and is located in Brick Lane where its friendly staff and decent value for money make it stand out among an abundance of curry houses in London.

If you’re searching for a curry in London that isn’t drowning in thickly calorific sauce, you’ll appreciate food cooked in butter. The Chicken butter masala at Gymkhana is a feast for both the eyes and the taste buds, with the glorious coral shell presenting meaty chunks of chicken cooked in a butter.

Vegetarians always do well with Indian cuisine thanks to the myriad vegetables, cheeses, and grains used. Paneer is the fresh, non-melting cheese used most often and although pretty much every Indian restaurant will offer it in something like a masala, the Chilli Paneer at Mumbai Delight offers a fresh, spicy take on the staple cheese of India.

Aladin
132 Brick Lane, London E1 6RU
+44 (0)20 7247 8210
aladinbricklane.net

Gymkhana
42 Albemarle St, Mayfair, London W1S 4JH
+44 20 3011 5900
gymkhana.com

Mumbai Delight
51A South Lambeth road
London SW8 1RH
+44 (0) 207 091 0043
mumbaidelight.com

South India Curry (London)

Curries from the southern provinces of India have a slightly more tropical tinge with the prolific use of coconut for flavoring and banana leaves for presenting. For the more adventurous diner, Ganapati near East Dulwich has a fantastic Kerala Goat Curry served with a bowl of coconut rice that I could eat every day and never tire of – sticky, fragrant, and soothing, it’s utterly delicious especially when paired with the succulent, rich and aromatic meat.

If you like a little theatricality in the presentation of your food, the juicy and luscious Assamese Duck inside the steamed banana leaves at Babur in Brockley will delight you from both a visual and culinary perspective, as will the Chicken Chettinad, a traditional dish from southern India. Tender, well-sauced chicken pieces sit under a “foolscap” – a very thin rice pancake, perfect for scooping up each morsel; Indian food begs to be eaten with hands, and this is a lovely way of doing just that.

If you’re after something to put a little bit more fire in the belly, you’ll want to try a sauce of  Madras – named after the city in Southern India and fiery in both color and flavor thanks to the abundant use of chilies – or a Dopiaza, which uses copious amounts of onions and whose name literally translates to “two onions”. Clapham is home to a multitude of excellent restaurants and at Zumbura, a bright and elegant restaurant on the north side of the common, the Lamb Dopiaza comes in a heavily spiced and packed-full-of-onions sauce. You’ll find yourself scraping up every last morsel of it with their Paratha, an airy light bread that flakes apart into buttery soft morsels at the lightest touch.

Ganapati South Indian Kitchen
38 Holly Grove, London SE15 5DF
+44 (0)20 7277 2928
ganapatirestaurant.com

Babur Restaurant
119 Brockley Rise, London SE23 1JP
+44 (0)20 8291 2400
babur.info 

Zumbura
36a Old Town, London SW4 0LB
+44 (0)20 7720 7902
zumbura.com

East India Curry (London)

East Indian curries tend to possess a more subtle combination of flavors than their geographical counterparts, and flavors such as mustard and ingredients like chickpeas are commonly found in their food. If you love the humble chickpea as much as I do, you’ll want to know that the Mumbai Chole from the aforementioned Mumbai Delight in South Lambeth pairs chickpeas seasoning with a spicy masala sauce, garam masala powder which gives spicy tangy flavor, and a sprinkle of coriander to finish; it’s filling, flavorful and definitely worth leaving central London for.

If you’re not a fan of chickpeas but love whole grains, pulses, and rice, then bright, modern and cheery Roti Chai in West London has Bhel Puri on their street food menu that you’d be hard-pressed to find a better version of in the capital. Puffed rice, onions, spices, and chutneys make this the perfect bowl for scooping up with poppadums and fighting your dining companions over the last crunchy grains.

Roti Chai
3 Portman Mews S, London W1H 6HS
+44 (0)20 7408 0101
rotichai.com

West India Curry (London)

Last but by no means least, we turn to the western regions of India where spices such as cardamom sit side by side with oils like groundnut. The fiery temperament of Vindaloo is matched with the gentle flavors of Goan cooking and a selection of wonderfully cooling Raitas.

Fragrant and light, Gymkhana’s Wild Boar Vindaloo will stay firmly in your memory long after you’ve wiped the plate clean of the fall-apart-at-the-touch-of-your-fork meat and rich, full-of-depth sauce. Gymkhana isn’t cheap but it’s perfect for a special occasion, and you will feel like royalty thanks to the sincerity of the staff and the regal air of the dining room. Make sure you save room for dessert; their Chocolate Samosa is the stuff of dreams – silky, luxurious, and paired with a pretty, caffeinated coffee kulfi ice-cream.

At the opposite end of the heat spectrum, Michelin-starred Benares, Atol Kuchar’s long-standing and much-revered restaurant, delivers a fabulously floral Rose Yoghurt alongside Crispy Potato & Pea Samosas, which results in the perfect blend of deep-fried deliciousness with sweet, cool flavors.

A couple of other pointers for your foray into Indian cuisine in London: firstly, unless you wander around the city with your eyes closed, you won’t be able to miss Masala Zone, a chain of well-priced and very decent Indian restaurants. I especially love the flavor of Chat masala.  Their Thali’s in particular are superb value and firmly squash the idea that good food has to come with an inflated price tag. Their friendly, patient service makes them a great option for beginners to the curry landscape.

Benares
12a, Berkeley Square, London W1J 6BS
+44 (0)20 7629 8886
benaresrestaurant.com

Masala Zone
Various locations
masalazone.com

Whether you’re a spice novice or a curry fanatic, there’s no doubt that London curries can satisfy your every Indian food desires. So pick a place – for eat-in or takeaway – and let us know your favorite spot for pickles, hot sauces, poppadums, and a perfect plate of the nation’s favorite food!

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