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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.

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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.

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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.

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  • 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.

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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)

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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:

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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

S

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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:

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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.

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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:

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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?"

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  • 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?

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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.

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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.

W.

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  • 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)
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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.

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