Indian food dates back to the 19th-century in the UK so it’s no surprise that not only is it one of the nation’s most popular cuisines but the quality is also superb. London’s extensive range of excellent Indian restaurants expands every year, from Michelin-starred eateries to casual dining spots. Tamarind, Trishna, The Cinnamon Club, Benares, Bombay Palace and Jamavar are all superb. And to add to that list of established favorites, here is a selection of some of the best new Indian restaurants that have opened in recent months.
At the helm of this smart new Mayfair restaurant is Chef Chet Sharma whose past gigs have been at JKS Restaurants (Brigadiers, Gymkhana, Hoppers, Trishna), Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume, Mark Birchall’s Moor Hall and Andoni Aduriz at the two Michelin-starred Mugaritz. Despite its swanky location in Mayfair, Bibi has a decidely relaxed feel, combining contemporary, stylish interiors with a hip vibe (backed by cool music). The 34 cover restaurant also offers the option of sitting at the bar to watch the chefs work their magic. Excellent atmosphere aside, the food is outstanding, making this one of the best new openings in recent months. Dishes combine produce from both the UK and India; one highlight is an Orkney Scallop served ceviche-style with Kaji lemonade that is reminiscent of nimbu pani, a fresh lemonade enjoyed across the subcontinent. The à la carte menu includes bar snacks, chaat (Indian street food), sigree (grills), sides and desserts. The 11-course Chef’s selection menu, reasonably priced at £55, includes fantastic dishes like Carlingford Oyster Pachadi, Khatti Meethi Cod and Swaledale Lamb Belly Galouti Kebab.
This chic new restaurant from Chef Rohit Ghai (of Michelin-starred Jamavar and Kutir) serves inventive Indian street food-inspired dishes alongside a fabulous range of creative cocktails. Manthan, meaning “to churn and reflect,” is inspired by Chef Ghai’s extensive international career and dishes reflect his culinary experiences in kitchens all over the world, as well as the Indian street food markets he has visited for over 20 years. Menu highlights include the Ghai family’s Aloo paratha with homemade churned butter, a traditional Punjabi breakfast dish of bread stuffed with potato, Ghai’s signature Masala prawns and moreish beef korma with bone marrow, sandalwood and cashews. The interiors of the Mayfair townhouse that Manthan is in also deserve high praise, especially for the choice of lovely colors including gold, rose and teal.
The newest opening of Gunpowder in Greek Street, Soho from Harneet Baweja and Devina Seth is their third London restaurant, following popular ventures in Spitalfields and Tower Bridge. The modern Indian menu was inspired by Harneet’s childhood experiences growing up in India and his travels across the country plus generations of family recipes collected by Harneet and Devina. With an emphasis on sharing, the concise menu features excellent dishes like whole mackerel with raw mango chutney and a half lobster served with rice pancakes. Gunpowder favorites from their other two restaurants are also here such as Kashmiri lamb chops, spicy venison and vermicelli doughnut and a modern-take on classic prawn toast.
4.Colonel Saab, Holborn
The first London restaurant from award-winning Indian entrepreneur/hotelier Roop Partap Choudhary is located in the impressive, historic former Holborn Town Hall. The striking interiors tell a story of England and India. They were designed in collaboration with Mr. Choudhary’s mother, Binny – or MemSaab. Dozens of gorgeous rose-colored chandeliers from India and portraits are on the wall, of Binny and the owner’s father, Manbeer, who was known as “Colonel Saab” during his years in the Indian Army. The food menu was developed in partnership with Indian food-writer and cook, Karen Anand, alongside the restaurant’s resident head chef, Sohan Bhandari. The all-day menu offers huge dosas from south India, served with a choice of meat, seafood or vegetarian options, alongside rice dishes served in traditional tiffin tins. Menu highlights include Bharli Vangi, Maharashtrian baby aubergines in a chilli peanut sauce, Nizami Murg roast chicken and Binny’s chicken curry.
5.Chourangi, Marble Arch
Indian restaurateur Anjan Chatterjee’s new opening offers an ideal respite from bustling Oxford street nearby. Stop in for lunch in the attractive and spacious dining room for the excellent Thali menu that includes ten Calcuttan small dishes. The menu is a brilliant showcase of European, Mogul and Chinese cultures and food that has evolved in Calcutta, a place known as “the city of joy” in India. The menu was carefully created by Chef “Jolly” Surjan Singh, with ingredients thoughtfully sourced and it shows in the high quality of every dish. Menu highlights include Kosha Mangsho (slow roasted Welsh lamb, yogurt, green cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, mustard oil), Tiger Prawn Mailai Curry (coconut shell baked Tiger Prawns, cinnamom, bay leaf, coconut sauce), and Paneer Dahi Kebab Kofta (pine nuts, fennel, black cardamom, green tomato and cashew sauce).
6.Pahli Hill and Bandra bhai, Fitzrovia
Named after an old city neighborhood in Mumbai, Pahli Hill offers carefully crafted regional Indian small plates, ideal for sharing. The restaurant celebrates an eclectic mix of flavors from every corner of the country. The Tandoor menu is impressive, ranging from monkfish and scallops to pigeon. The fish curry with halibut and mussels is bliss, as is Pahli Hill’s version of traditional kulcha that includes wild mushrooms and fontina cheese. This highlight on the stellar menu by Head Chef Avinash Shashidhara is alone worth a visit. Bandra Bhai, the basement cocktail bar, described as “a retro Indian smugglers’ den” is filled with velvet furniture, trinkets and colorful art. It’s a tribute to India’s illicit underground bars in the 1970s and highlights of the cocktail list include boozy lassis and “the Don” a spicy, whisky based delight.
7.Goila Butter Chicken at Carousel, Fitzrovia
Chef Saransh Goila’s world-renowned butter chicken has achieved a cult-like following since its launch in Mumbai five years ago. After Chef Goila brought his popular dish to London’s Carousel restaurant for a sell-out residency last year, a partnership was formed. This month, a hip, ten-seater diner was launched beside Carousel’s new main restaurant to serve an Indian food menu featuring Chef Goila’s moreish chicken dish. All produce is sustainably sourced and the chicken is free-range and herb-fed. The menu is satisfyingly short, with Dal Makhani, sourdough naan, pickled sweet and sour shallots, coriander chutney and Jeera rice. A Goila fried chicken burger is another option and vegetarians can replace the chicken with paneer. Apparently the secret to Chef Goila’s magical recipe is the all-important infusion of smoke and the tomato to dairy ratio (80:20 as opposed to the usual 60:40).
Technically not new but well deserving of a mention because it reopened in 2020, after a lengthy closure due to a fire. Michelin-starred Indian restaurant, Gymkhana was inspired by the elite clubs of India where members of high society socialise, eat and drink and play sport. The interiors are fabulous and the Northern Indian food is fantastic so it’s no surprise that booking well in advance is advised. Menu highlights include wild muntjac biryani, kid goat methi keema and Chettinad duck.