When you think of food in London, you might first think of fish & chips, bangers and mash or that always-popular English breakfast. But actually, one of the most quintessentially British foods is curry. From the Indian subcontinent, curry dishes are a leftover from British history. Bangladeshi and Indian curries have made their way to London and for decades (since at least the 1970s) it’s been the most popular type of restaurant you’ll find in East London, especially along Brick Lane.
Today, Brick Lane is crowded with tourists and hipsters (especially on weekends at the Brick Lane Market), but there are still many traditional curry houses in the East. A typical curry dish might be spicy, but it’s the combination of flavors and spices such as turmeric, ginger and coriander which make curry so unique.
There are around 10,000 ‘curry houses’ across the UK serving around 2.5 million customers every week. There are even more ‘Indian’ restaurants in London than there are in Mumbai. Here are some of our favorite London restaurants serving up both traditional and innovative curry dishes.
With locations across the city, Dishoom is an Indian food staple in London. The beautifully decorated restaurants pay homage to the old Irani cafés of Bombay. You’ll find spicy breakfasts, friendly staff and an easy-to-decipher menu for curry beginners. Make sure to order a mango lassi —a drink blended from yoghurt, water and mango.
Situated in the heart of the famous curry mile on Brick Lane, Aladin is frequently listed among the top 10 Indian restaurants in London. Aladin’s famous curries are put together by the long-standing chef, who has been cooking up delicacies for the past 25 years. A meal here is bound to transport you back to Bangladesh, India or Pakistan.
Cinnamon is another busy Brick Lane establishment, so booking in advance is recommended. This restaurant has been nominated for numerous awards, and is quite affordable due to great deals on their set menus served during lunch and dinner. Cinnamon’s specialty is their selection of grilled meats, but the lamb royale curry is a favorite. It’s a tasty curry where the tender meat is cooked with chunks of mango, coconut and cream.
A restaurant that’s popular with locals, Tayyabs is a Punjabi restaurant famous for their extensive menu of grilled meat and curries. Expect long waits out the front door, so if you can: book early! Dishes here are especially spicy because they’re from the Pakistani region of Punjab. The food (try the lamb chops) is especially good, but it’s the atmosphere inside the restaurant that will have you returning again and again.
Even though it’s not a curry restaurant, this is an essential place to stop after dinner. Rajmahal Sweets is the place to go if you’re looking for authentic Indian desserts such as gulabjam, rashmalai or gajjar halwa. Apart from the boxes of cakes and biscuits, the Rajmahal Sweets specialty are the jalebis— deep-fried orange sugar spirals.
Discover these and other great Indian restaurants on a tour through London’s curry restaurants in and around Brick Lane. This lunchtime journey through London’s vibrant Brick Lane takes in the exotic sights, sounds, smells and tastes of ‘Banglatown’. Walk away from this tour with an in-depth knowledge of the area, the community, and most importantly – the surprising and delightful food.