Indian food has had huge prominence in the UK for about 200 years now. From celebrating Samosa Week to allocating chicken tikka masala as the national food, England has been clear about its unabashed love for Indian food. Being a student in London, you can visit famous Indian restaurants, and experience the different cuisines from different parts of India.
A famous chain of fast Indian food, Dishoom has been a part of the UK food scene for many years now and has five branches in London. The mildly spicy food, interesting cocktails, and it’s hip ambience has made a definite impact on the London food scene. One can normally expect to wait of a minimum of 30 minutes at all branches at any given time, but the lines aren’t so bad as Dishoom makes queuing up enjoyable by providing warm wine and masala chai whilst you wait. The food is a mix of famous Indian delicacies, it has reasonable portions and the staff are always friendly. Special dishes include Vada Pav, Pav Bhaji and Okra Fries.
This pocket-friendly restaurant has franchise stores located on the outskirts of London, but trust me, you don’t want to look anyplace else than the branch in Harrow. SKVP has also created a big name for itself for its authentic, spicy, hot, cheap Marathi food. Expect Missil Pav, Kachori, Coriander Sticks and much more at a fraction of price. While the vibe isn’t much, and the ride is slightly long, the food is exceptional.
This restaurant sits in the middle of Covent Garden, it has beautiful interiors inspired by the Indian Marketplace and has generous options of chaat, a typical Indian dish readily available street side in the smallest to the largest towns in India. Due to its location, the place is not as budget-friendly, but the main attraction, the chaat, is reasonably priced and is available in platter options, which gives you the chance to taste a variety. A personal favourite is the hot chaat platter. For a different experience, you can opt for their afternoon tea experience, and order the afternoon chaat platter here which comes with the famous masala chai.
It is safe to assume that wherever you visit around the world, there’d be high chances you’d be close to a Sarvana Bhawan. With close to 85 branches globally and about 8 of those in the UK alone, Sarvana has made South Indian food prominent. While the restaurant offers North Indian, South Indian and Indo-Chinese options, I suggest you stick to what they specialise in – South Indian food. Order the dosas, idli and sambhar wada for a proper South Indian experience, at a good price!
This restaurant, on the lower ground of a building in Soho, has a small and simple menu but the food is zestful! Their biryani, a rice bowl dish, is authentic, flavourful, and baked fresh in clay pots. The side options include a nice paneer pav and rocket peppers with banana, which is a famous Hyderabadi, Mughalai dish and the restaurant does it justice.
This is a small, no-fuss restaurant, located in Bethnal Green, where you can either dine-in or order take-out, so you can enjoy this one from the comfort of your home. Indians have a habit of adapting cuisines of different regions according to their taste. In recent times a popular Indian version of Chinese food dominates Indian markets and restaurants. This Indo-Chinese variety is available at Maida. Vegetable Manchurian, Hakka Noodles and Chilli Paneer – try these Indian favourite versions to experience a whole different kind of Chinese food than you might have traditionally known.
In Western India lies the princely desert state of Rajasthan. An artificially constructed village here called Chokhi Dhaani has been giving visitors an authentic taste of Rajasthani culture ranging from its art to culture to people. A highlight of this village has been the restaurant inside which serves people with the utmost kindness, respect and love. Chokhi Dhaani in London, is based around the same concept, emulating the same values in its Battersea complex. The ambience is vibrant, and the seating is luxurious. Art pieces don the walls and a life-size elephant welcomes you on the entrance. Chowki Dhaani serves food from all over the subcontinent but do indulge in its signature Rajasthani dish – the ‘dal batti choorma’. The price is slightly high but the experience is worthwhile. For an even more sumptuous meal, you can even opt for the variety of thaalis available that serve few items to eat from all food courses offered on a platter.