Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Recommended Posts

In regards the question on the distinction (or not) between Indian and Pakistani food, it is true that there is a lot of overlap. That is why I commented on the similarity between NORTH Indian and Pakistani food(from Punjab specifically, as Pakistan too, has different provinces with different cuisines). As you may know, what we refer to as South Indian cuisine for eg., consists of foods such as dosas (made from fermented rice), idli, etc. A lot of it is vegetarian.

There are certain dishes even within North Indian and Pakistani food, respectively which are unique. For example, butter chicken masala is more North Indian than Pakistani. I would say that takaatak (a spicy concoction of heart, liver, kidneys, sweetbreads etc, cooked in a tomato and chili base) is more Pakistani than Indian.

I would not go so far as saying that the distinctions were meaningless but I would say that in both countries (in the specific regions mentioned), the cuisine has perhaps evolved separately.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Pakistani restaurants in London differ from "Indian" restaurants (the majority of which are ,ironically,run by Bangladeshis).

The former place the emphasis more heavily on marinated and grilled meats,thick lush dahls and breads as opposed to rice.The spicing tends to be more authentic and less concessions are made to timid western palates.

Around the Wembley area are restaurants run by East African Asians,originally from the Punjab region. These are similar to Pakistani restaurants but will sometimes incorporate African influences(eg cassava) onto the menus.

In the East End some Bangladeshis are gaining the confidence to open up restaurants featuring Bangladeshi,as opposed to "Indian" food,but these are still few and far between and often run alongside a "traditional" Indian menu.

In Southall the large Sikh population dominates the restaurant scene. As they also originate from the Punjab the cuisine is similar to the Pakistani and East African places.

All these people are big meat eaters and although a vegetarian can eat perfectly well in these restaurants to go to them and eat no meat at all is to miss some of their best dishes.

The best Indian vegetarian food is to be found either at those places which specialise in Bombay streetfoods(Bhel Pooris,Dosas etc.) or at the Rasa chain of Keralan restaurants.

Places like Kastoori in Tooting (mentioned above) and Sabras in Willesden are also both excellent vegetarian restaurants.

Link to post
Share on other sites

For a memorable dining experience I can highly recommend La Porte des Indes at Marble Arch. They specialise in Indian cuisine from the former French colonies in the south. The jazz brunch on Sundays shouldn't be missed either!

In my opinion it compares favourably with the 2 michelin starred Indian restaurants in London.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 6 months later...

By SW3 I guess you mean Chelsea - and do you mean 'ritzy' Indian restaurants?

Vama, Zaika, Haandi, Chutney Mary (which is technically SW10 I think) and Painted Heron (or something like this, which has recently opened to mixed reviews - I've been to the first four but not the latter) are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. The relative merits of most of these have have been the subject of many a lively discussion on these boards, just do a search. If you are after standard take-aways, there are loads of them. In fact you can just plug in 'Indian restaurants/London' or 'Indian restaurants/SW3' in google, and several 'by-postcode' restaurant guides will pop up.

Link to post
Share on other sites

For authentic Indian food in London you're going to have to venture out of SW3. Those upmarket places are generally hybrids serving Frenchified Indian food for people who want Indian food to be French. The food can be very nice or it can be awful but either way it ain't what Indians are eating( I exempt Chutney Mary from that.)

The Time Out Guide lists most of the best places in Whitechapel, Southall, Tooting, and Wembley. Also Mela in Shaftesbury Avenue and the Rasa chain of Keralan restaurants (although some say they're going down hill). Drummond St behind Euston has the original Bel poori house and a large Ambala(Indian sweet and snack centre)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Stop being coy, Tony :rolleyes: Tell David about the New Tayyab -- it really is a place not to be missed by someone looking for exceptional Indian food, and I am telling all my friends about it.

If you want a high-class, fairly pricey, but well recommended place in the SW3 (sort of) area, David, Bombay Barsserie is excellent. But not as good food, nor anywhere near as good value, as New Tayyab :laugh:

Link to post
Share on other sites
Stop being coy, Tony  :rolleyes:  Tell David about the New Tayyab -- it really is a place not to be missed by someone looking for exceptional Indian food, and I am telling all my friends about it.

Although the NT is in fact Pakistani! We all probably look the same to you M :biggrin:

I agree with Tony ( except on Chutney mary which is quite frankly, shit ) You should get out of SW3 if you are going to find anything decent


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some of the noveau-haute Indian places are worthwhile on their own terms. I've actually found Vama more consistent than Zaika but I haven't been to the latter enough to warrant going against the tide. Try either of those, and then go to New Tayyab near Whitechapel for meat (add me to the list of converts) and Kastoori in Tooting for veg.

Haven't been to Rasa for ages but it used to be great.

Has Bombay Brasserie improved in recent years? :blink:

Link to post
Share on other sites

Technically speaking, neither Vama (SW10) nor Zaika (W8) are in SW3. Only Zaika's little brother, Zaika Bazaar is (in Pont St. just off the Fulham Rd). I will not claim that Zaika Bazaar is the best Indian restaurant in London, as I have been to far too few and know precious little about Indian cuisine at that. I am probably one of those damn Westerners who like Frenchified Indian food (although the food at Zaika Bazaar did not seem particular French to me). I will say that Zaika Bazaar serves some damn tasty curry and has a very reasonable alsatian gewurtz on the wine list to match. I have had several winning meals there without a miss. It can get a bit clubby late on weekends and is to be avoided at those times.

BTW, had one meal at Cafe Spice Namaste that was just nasty.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Although the NT is in fact Pakistani!  We all probably look the same to you M :biggrin:

The fact is that you are all the same, you subcontinental pedant :unsure: The current national borders are a weak attempt to suggest otherwise :biggrin:

Anyway, until he corrects me, I'm satisfied that David's use of the word "Indian" is the general one in culinary usage, which is to say Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi and maybe even Bengali too :laugh:

Link to post
Share on other sites

To the list of Indian/Pakistani restaurants I would add Mirch Masala in Norbury (I think there may now be a 2nd in Tooting) Superb food, although the cafe setting is no longer so cafe'ish since they put laminated wooden flooring down :biggrin:

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

Made a booking at Zaika for a Wednesday evening. They want to turn us around in 2 hours and have faxed through a request for a credit card confirmation (party of 5). I don't remember such Ramsayesque behaviour. How long have they been doing this?

Link to post
Share on other sites

How about The Punjab in Neal Street in Covent Garden? It's one of the oldest Indian restaurants in the UK, but the menu does have some interesting touches, eg chicken or lamb with fresh fenugreek or with pomegranate (sp?) or "pickled", and the best pumpkin puri I've ever tasted. Charming staff, too.

It was started by the current owner's grandfather and I remember the old boy sitting in a corner of the restaurant keeping an eye on things every evening until a few years ago, when he went to India for a holiday and died. It turned out that he was 101 years old, so he was a great advertisment for the preservative powers of curry.

Link to post
Share on other sites
What are the forum's opinions about the plethora of cheap Indian restaurants on Brick Lane?  For sheer value for money I've always enjoyed the meals I've had there...  But is there one which is particularly better than all the rest?

Sweet and Spicy (towards the south end) is the only one I'd really recommend. It's Pakistani rather than Bangladeshi and quite cafe-like in style but the food's pretty authentic tasting.

However New tayyub is just 10 mins away as I'm sure Tony will point out.

The rest seem to be increasingly serving anglicised pap for pissed up city boys, and the touts are extremely irritating.


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

Thanks for the recommendation on Mela. I was put off by the fact that they advertise in the tourist guide / Welcome to London distributed by the TI, but it was close to the hotel and theater so I went anyway. Ate there last Monday evening on a stopover in London.

The silky paneer with spinach in a tomato sauce was just right, with naan, of course. The masala tea comforted me. If only I had more of an appetite - or others to share with! What a bright and cheery place. And I left with a complimentary gift (are all gifts complimentary?) of a set of bracelets. What do they give the boys?

Only other meal was a roasted butternut squash, rocket, roasted peppers, toasted pine nut, goat cheese salad with pesto, at Riviera. That was quite good as well. (Recovering from fish/meat/wine overload of the past 2 1/2 weeks.) Ah, London.

Edited by tsquare (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites
Around the Wembley area are restaurants run by East African Asians,originally from the Punjab region. These are similar to Pakistani restaurants but will sometimes incorporate African influences(eg cassava) onto the menus.

Places like Kastoori in Tooting (mentioned above) and Sabras in Willesden are also both excellent vegetarian restaurants.

As someone with East African Punjabi parents, I think Tooting is also good for African-Asian fusion food like spicy mugo (cassava) chips.

I agree with all the other posters who extoll the virtues of Mela. The best thing is that its menu spans dishes from the whole subcontinent.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Similar Content

    • By Sheel
      Prawn Balchao is a very famous Goan pickle that has a sweet, spicy and tangy flavor to it. 
      For the balchao paste you will need:
      > 8-10 kashmiri red chillies
      > 4-5 Byadagi red chillies
      > 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
      > 1/2 tsk turmeric powder 
      > 1 tsp peppercorn
      > 6 garlic cloves
      > 1/2 tsp cloves
      > 1 inch cinnamon stick
      > Vinegar 
      First you will need to marinate about 250 grams of prawns in some turmeric powder and salt. After 15 minutes deep fry them in oil till them become golden n crisp. Set them aside and add tsp vinegar to them and let it sit for 1 hour. Now, make a paste of all the ingredients mentioned under the balchao paste and make sure not to add any water. In the same pan used for fryin the prawns, add in some chopped garlic and ginger. Lightly fry them and immediately add one whole chopped onion. Next, add the balchao paste amd let it cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in the prawns and cook until the gravy thickens. Finally add 1 tsp sugar and salt according to your taste. Allow it to cool. This can be stored in a glass jar. Let this mature for 1-3 weeks before its use. Make sure never to use water at any stage. This can be enjoyed with a simple lentil curry and rice.
    • By Deeps
      This is one of my daughter favorite dishes, being mild and less spicy she loves this rice dish.  Its super easy to make and goes well with most Indian curries.
      Do try this out and I am sure you will be happy with the results.

      Prep Time : 5 mins
      Cook Time: 5 mins
      Serves: 2
      1 cup rice(basmati), cooked
      1/2 cup coconut, shredded or grated
      1 green chili, slit
      1 dried red chili
      1 1/2 tablespoon oil/ghee(clarified butter)
      1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
      1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
      1/2 tablespoon chana dal(split chickpeas)
      1/2 tablespoon urad dal(split black gram)
      1 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped
      A pinch of hing (asafoetida)
      Few curry leaves
      Salt to taste
      1) Heat oil/ghee(clarified butter) in a pan in medium flame. I used coconut oil here because it tastes best for this dish.
      2) Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chana dal(split chickpeas), urad dal(split black gram), green chili, dried red chili, ginger and curry leaves. Fry this for 30 seconds in medium flame. The trick is to ensure that these are fried but not burned.
      3) Add a pinch of hing(asafoetida) and mix well.
      4) Now add the cooked rice and coconut. Stir well for about 15 to 20 seconds and switch off the flame.
      5) Finally add salt into this and mix well. You could add peanuts or cashew nuts if you prefer. Goes well with most curries.
    • By loki
      Sweet Eggplant Pickle

      This is an Indian pickle, some would call a chutney, that I made up from several sources and my own tastes. It is based it on my favorite sweet brinjal (eggplant here in the US) pickle available commercially. It has onion and garlic, which are often omitted in some recipes due to dietary restrictions of some religious orders. It also has dates which I added on my own based on another pickle I love. I also used olive oil as mustard oil is not available and I like it's taste in these pickles. Use other oils if you like. This has more spices than the commercial type - and I think it's superior. I avoided black mustard seed, fenugreek, and cumin because almost all other pickles use these and they start to taste the same. One recipe from Andhra Pradesh used neither and I followed it a little. It's wonderful with all sorts of Indian foods - and also used for many other dishes, especially appetizers.
      SPICE MIX (Masala)
      4 Tbs coriander seeds
      3 hot chilies (I used a very hot Habanero type, so use more if you use others)
      18 cardamom pods
      2 inches cinnamon
      24 cloves
      1 1/2 Tbs peppercorns
      1 cups olive oil
      4 inches fresh ginger, minced fine, about 1/2 cup
      6 cloves garlic, minced
      1 large onion finely chopped
      3 lb eggplant, diced, 1/4 inch cubes
      1/2 lb chopped dates
      1 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
      2 cups rice vinegar (4.3 percent acidity or more)
      2 cups brown sugar
      2 Tbs salt
      2 tsp citric acid
      Spice Mix (Masala)

      1. Dry roast half the coriander seeds in a pan till they begin to brown slightly and become fragrant - do not burn. Cool.

      2. Put roasted and raw coriander seeds and all the other spices in a spice mill and grind till quite fine, or use a mortar and pestle. Put aside.

      Main Pickle

      1. Heat half the oil and fry ginger till slightly browned, slowly.

      2. Add garlic, onion, and half the salt and fry slowly till these begin to brown a bit too.

      3. Add eggplant, turmeric, and spice mix (Masala) and combine well. Fry for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

      4. Add rest of ingredients, including rest of the salt and olive oil and heat slowly to a boil.

      5. Boil for about 5 minutes. Add a little water if too thick - it should be nearly covered with liquid, but not quite - it will thin upon cooking so wait to add the water till heated through.

      6. Bottle in sterilized jars and seal according to your local pickling instructions. This recipe will be sufficiently acidic.
    • By loki
      Sour Tomatillo Achar

      Made this one up from a recipe for lemons. It really works for tomatilloes. A unique spice mix, and really sour for a 'different' type of pickle, or achar. It is based on a Marwari recipe - from the arid north-western part of India. Tomatilloes are not used in India (or at least not much) but are quite productive plants in my garden while lemons or other sour fruits are not possible to grow here. No vinegar or lemon juice is used, because tomatilloes are very acidic and don't need any extra.

      3 lbs tomatilloes husks removed and quartered
      1/4 cup salt
      1 Tbs black mustard seeds
      2 star anise buds
      10 dried chilies (I used very hot yellow peppers)
      1 tsp fenugreek seeds
      2 inch ginger (ground to a paste)
      2 TBL dark brown sugar
      1/2 cup sugar

      1. In a large bowl, put the tomatilloes and sprinkle salt over them. Cover it and leave for a day, mixing occasionally.

      2. Next day drain the tomatilloes.

      3. Dry roast the star anise (put in first as these take longer, the black mustard, and the chilie pods (add last and barely brown in places). Cool.

      4. Grind the roasted spices with the fenugreek and put aside.

      5. Add tomatilloes, ginger, sugars, and everything else to a large pan and heat to boiling.

      6. Cook till fully hot and boiling.

      7. Fill half-pint jars and seal.
    • By rxrfrx
      South Indian Style Broccoli
      Serves 2 as Main Dish.
      Broccoli isn't a traditional Indian vegetable, but I designed this recipe to use up leftover boiled broccoli in the style of cauliflower.

      3 c broccoli, cut up and cooked
      3 T oil
      2 T cumin seeds
      2 tsp tumeric
      2 tsp corriander powder
      2 green chilis, sliced thinly
      1/2 c chopped cilantro
      salt, to taste

      Fry the spices in the oil until they smoke a little. Add the broccoli and chilis and fry for a couple minutes to get the flavors mixed. Add salt to taste and stir in the cilantro before serving with chapati.
      Bonus recipe: just before adding the cilantro, crack 2-4 eggs into the pan and stir them around.
      Keywords: Main Dish, Side, Easy, Vegan, Vegetables, Indian
      ( RG2107 )
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...