“Chicken bhuna, lamb bhuna, prawn bhuna, mushroom rice, a bag of chips, keema naan, and nine poppadoms.” An infamous curry order worthy of its viral status, made by none other than Gavin and Stacey’s Smithy (played by James Corden).
Curry, and Indian food in general, is a real British favourite, particularly in the City. In fact, last year, The Telegraph named Chicken Madras the nation’s favourite dish.
Much has changed from the traditional pint-and-curry-house-next-door combination, although it's true that some of these classic spots still serve the best grub in and around the City, with a more sophisticated patter to now choose from when it comes to wolfing down 16 poppadoms before your main has arrived.
However many bhunas – and indeed bags of chips – you see fit to order for yourself, the City has a huge offering of the weeknight favourite. Here are the ones we’d recommend...
Dishoom. That’s it. That is all we have to say. OK, not true, I could bang on about their gunpowder potatoes for days, the creamy paneer for a month or two and the okra fries for a straight year. You know you've made it as a restaurant when just your name is enough for people to harmonize on an "Mmmm", and when you can convince people to come to you for a curry-esque breakfast... and make it work. With branches all over town, you’re bound to always be in close proximity to a Dishoom. Mmmm. And if you aren't, make the journey. Trust me, it's worth it. As a vegetarian, it’s still rare to find good-quality restaurants that legitimately have a menu, rather than an option or two – but Dishoom hits the spot for this veggie every time. Not to worry, though, I'm told the meat is second to none as well. Seriously, go to Dishoom. Mmmm.
For more information, visit dishoom.com
Chai Ki, Canary Wharf
As Canary Wharf does with the majority of things it touches, the classic curry house has been taken hostage and come out the other side looking pretty damn spicy. Chai Ki is a luxury experience, from its timber-toned interior all the way to its views of the docks and ever-immersive menu. For a more informal snacking experience, the Toddy Shop Bar menu has everything from the Full Nashta (an Indian take on the Full English, which includes an Aloo Tiki Hash) at breakfast time, to Himalayan Ribs and bar snacks such as Hakka Chilli Paneer and Koliwada Calamari at lunch. The dinner menu is small, but has something for everyone – among the offerings is the classic Butter Chicken, renowned as the restaurant’s best dish.
For more information, visit chai-ki.com
The Cinnamon Club, Westminster
Chaired by celebrity chef Vivek Singh and run by Rakesh Nair, both known for mixing Indian classics with modern takes on the wide breadth of dishes their home country has to offer, The Cinnamon Club has become one of the City’s most talked-about restaurants since opening its doors in 2001. Based in the former Westminster Library, the atmosphere is one of intelligence, warmth and charisma – which doesn’t just apply to the award-winning food it serves. Since undergoing a £1m transformation and reopening in 2015, the landmark eatery has gone on to win many accolades, including the Food Made Good award in 2016.
For more information, visit cinnamonclub.com
Mrs Fogg’s Dockside Drinkery & Distillery, Broadgate Circle
The name probably sounds familiar, owing to the Fogg name appearing in, and also owning, two Covent Garden gin hotspots, a Mayfair parlour and a Fitzrovia botanical house. If you’ve visited any, or all, of the above, you won’t be surprised with the uniqueness of this mega-space which serves hearty beers, ciders and just about every other drink, as well as modern Indian food. As the well known saying goes: come for a pint, stay for the masala-fried fish and chips. In all seriousness, this Broadgate-located spot really does have everything, including a gin-themed brunch which is served with a set menu of some Indian classics, and some not-so Indian classics.
For more information, visit www.mrs-foggs.com
Chokhi Dhani, Nine Elms
Chokhi Dhani has gone from being a celebrated-for-its-cuisine Rajasthani village, to a fully-fledged restaurant, bar and terrace in Battersea. Promising to be one of the most authentic Indian dining experiences in London, the eatery serves up Rajasthani cuisine as well as handmade art, crafts and jewellery all created by traditional artisans in its village in India. Designed by chef Naseem Qureshi, the menu provides an education in the extensive and exciting flavours and cuisine of the ancient princely state of Rajasthan. It features traditional fine dining Rajasthani dishes previously unseen in London’s Indian restaurants as well as favourites from across the subcontinent, including a selection of Biriyanis and Naans.
For more information, visit chokhidhani.co.uk
A cross between your traditional curry house, a state-of-the-art sports bar and a hub of creativity, Brigadiers has earnt its infamous reputation for a reason. Whether it’s playing pool, eating five-star Indian-inspired dishes, watching the match, having a pint with some colleagues or friends, or listening to a live Q&A from some of the arts, finance, tech and food and drinks industry’s biggest names – or a mix of all the above – then this is the place for you. The menu is a little unconventional, with burgers, ribs and chops – all with an Indian twist – topping the charts, but Brigadiers makes it work. And then some.
For more information, visit brigadierslondon.com
India India, Fleet Street
This is where the classic post-work curry house comes through to compete with its luxurious rivals. Known for its quick service and excellent food – and, of course, its creative name choice –India India offers a menu filled with classic Indian favourites, as well as some modern twists and turns. Owing to its unique, and spacious, location, the curry house has multiple private party spaces, which in its own words are “frequently used for both personal and corporate events”. Staff are friendly and the location really does make you feel like a back-in-the-day journalist, working for a national paper, there to write a knockout review. No? Just us, then. A top tip for everyone this time: the Lamb Dopiaza is said to be next-to-none and a favourite of pretty much everyone who visits.
For more information, visit indiaindiarestaurant.co.uk
The Rajasthan, Monument
If you’re looking for one of the City’s best tasting and most affordable curries, which happens to be located right next door to the equally popular pub The Walrus and The Carpenter, then The Rajasthan is for you. Offering a host of dishes inspired by the tastes of Mogul India, and a renowned regular for some of the insurance and finance worlds’ biggest players, this seemingly nonchalant restaurant packs a real punch in both its food and atmosphere. Be warned, its prime location means it fills up pretty quickly on a weeknight, though staff are always very accommodating and will try to squeeze you in wherever they can.
For more information, visit rajasthan1.co.uk