The UK has long been one of the best places to eat Indian food outside the country itself, but it has taken a long time for this to be properly recognised. In 2001 Atul Kochhar became the first Indian chef to be awarded a Michelin star while he was head chef at Tamarind of Mayfair. He won a second star in 2007 at Benares Restaurant just a few streets away, where he spearheaded the trend for fine-dining takes on traditional dishes. Today London has some of the most celebrated Indian restaurants in the world, from stalwarts such as Veeraswamy – the UK's oldest surviving Indian restaurant, it was given its first star last year – to relative newcomers such as Gymkhana, which was awarded the accolade in 2014, just a year after it opened.
Increasingly, high end chefs are turning to a more casual style of food, inspired by India's bustling cafe culture. Their relaxed restaurants offer fresh, vibrant and creative dishes that bring a new lease of life to Indian cooking.
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The first solo project from one of the founding members of London's Cinnamon Club – the acclaimed chef Abdul Yaseen – certainly arrived with a bang when the restaurant won Best Newcomer in the British Curry Awards last year.
Inspired by the banquets of the Indian Royal Court, Darbaar's chefs cook with traditional clay ovens and a charcoal robata grill – the restaurant's extensive menu features dishes from the length and breadth of India.
Along with familiar favourites such a butter chicken and Kashmiri lamb rogan josh, those with a more adventurous palate can try the chef's specials, many of which were devised during a turn on Celebrity Masterchef last year. Highlights include the Royal Bengal-style wild Madagascar prawns and the quite spectacular Mewari over-baked leg of rabbit with chilli and corn sauce (pictured above).
The thrill of the grill set menu, which features dishes such as Tawa-Macchli bream in banana leaf and slow roasted leg of lamb, makes Darbaar an excellent spot for a relaxed sharing meal with friends. But if you aren't in the mood for food, the restaurant's Lotus bar next door whips up classic cocktails with an Indian twist. Favourites include the Lotus Collins with a devilish chilli kick and an appealingly tart turmeric margarita.
1 Snowden St, London EC2A 2DQ; www.darbaarrestaurants.com
Hankies Marble Arch
When you think of a hotel restaurant what do you think of? A buffet perhaps, serving breakfast in the morning, a selection of salads for lunch, a maybe a menu of “classics” in the evening, such as hamburgers and lasagne. All too many hotels, even relatively good ones, have a restaurant such as this. Which is why Hankies makes for such a nice change of pace: more than a reasonable option for tired hotel guests who just need a bite before heading to bed, Hankies attracts both guests and outsiders looking for genuinely good curry in the heart of London.
Chef Anirudh Arora’s has another Hankies – a small Indian café in Shaftesbury Avenue that gets rave reviews from diners. In fact up until very recently it commanded a rare five-star rating from TripAdvisor (now four and a half). This second Hankies, attached to the Montcalm Hotel in Marble Arch, presents the same winning formula of Delhi street food and does it with considerable self-assurance.
The menu is a collection of small plates, which our waiter describes as “tapas style”. It is all inexpensive – in fact, the most expensive dish on the menu, a ribeye steak, is only £9. We are recommended four or five dishes each and push the boat out to go with the full five. In hindsight, this was possibly more than strictly necessary.
Highlights include the Bhatak Ki Khurchan, a crispy duck dish served with masala-tinged cashews with the summery combo of mint and watermelon. There is also a very nice black dahl (the Hankies Dal), which is a match for the much-loved black lentil stew served up at Dishoom. Truffle naan is an extravagant side, but a delicious one too. The chive and garlic prawn skewer very much does what it says on the tin, but does so pleasingly. I could happily have eaten five of these.
More than a hotel restaurant (though still a hotel restaurant) Hankies is a solid spot to stop if you are hankering for good Indian at an equally good price.
61 Upper Berkeley St, Marylebone, W1H 7PP, hankies.restaurant
Madame D is the latest opening from the team behind Gunpowder. But while the latter is inspired by home-style Indian cooking, this new venture showcases just how much of a melting pot the region's cuisine is. With Himalayan cooking at its core, you'll find a diverse range of influences on the table – not just Indian, but Nepalese, Tibetan and Chinese. The cosy and intimate restaurant has a similarly small but carefully compiled menu of sharing dishes, such as pan-fried Tibetan duck momo dumplings and its own take on prawn toast.
76 Commercial Street, London E1 6LY; madame-d.com
Chit Chaat Chai
It was an unfruitful search for her favourite snack, Bombay bhel, that led Tania Rahman to create Chit Chaat Chai. What started as supper clubs and pop-ups has since grown into a permanent restaurant in Wandsworth, at which she serves her signature street food and chai-based cocktails. The relaxed surrounds are designed for convivial conversations and casual dining (eating with your hands is encouraged), leaving little excuse not to dive right into platefuls of spiced chicken wings, chilli paneer and tarka dhaal, mopped up with breads fresh from the tandoor.
356 Old York Road, London SW18 1SS; chitchaatchai.com
Having conquered Fitzrovia with her cafe-style Bengali street food restaurant Calcutta Street, founder and chef Shrimoyee Chakraborty is heading south to launch a second branch in Brixton. Chakraborty grew up surrounded by Bengali street food and has brought an authentic taste of home to the UK capital. But where the Fitzrovia restaurant evokes the young chef's family home, her Brixton branch "is a tribute to all the artists of Calcutta and Park Street – the city's street that never sleeps, which is buzzing with jazz bars and restaurants," Chakraborty says. With a few subtle tweaks, the Brixton menu will remain relatively true to the original. So what should you eat? Start with an aperitif inspired by Chakraborty's father; Tarun's Tipple is a smooth Old Fashioned accompanied by slices of seasonal fruit which you dip into salty chaat masala. Then kick off your meal with some pre-dinner snacks inspired by the bustling food stalls of Calcutta's Golpark - such as phuchka, crisp semolina balls filled with spiced potato - each accompanied by homemade chutney. For the main event, expect hearty and flavoursome dishes inspired by Shrimoyee's mother's home cooking, from rich lamb curry or tiger prawns cooked in a creamy coconut sauce to the light seabass steamed in banana leaf.
395 Coldharbour Lane, London, SW9 8LQ and 29 Tottenham Street, London W1T 4RP; calcuttastreet.com
If the flavours at Chai Naasto seem a little unfamiliar, it's because they have a unique and personal story behind them; brothers Nim, Viren and Tilesh created the restaurant to carry on the culinary legacy of their nani (grandmother), whose own journey took her from India to the UK via Saudi Arabia. On the menu, you'll find an entire section dedicated to her recipes, which have been passed through the generations, from tuna in an onion and tomato gravy to a thrifty bean dish lifted with a homemade spice mix. As the name suggests, a chai is a must-have, and there's plenty of options, from indulgent white- and dark-chocolate blends to Nani's versions topped with cheeky shots of Baileys or Cognac.
Beckenham and Hammersmith; chai-naasto.co.uk
Dosa n Chutney
Similar in appearance to a crepe, dosas have long been a staple of southern Indian and Sri Lankan cooking and are among the most popular street food on the subcontinent.
Yet like so many simple dishes, getting it right can be incredibly hit-and-miss. But have no fear, while technically Sri Lankan and not Indian (we have bent the rules here a bit), Dosa n Chutney serves up some of the best in town.
Time Out says “rarely have we seen such a perfect dosa: crisp on the outside, moist and rice-fragrant on the inside, a perfect oval bent over in the shape of a curling leaf”.
Served Chennai-style with a sweet sambar and fresh coconut chutneys, most dosas cost under £5, making it one of the best value Indian joints in London.
Even the interior, which has the feel of a Tamil truck stop, adds to the overall dining experience.
68 Tooting High St, London SW17 0RN; 020 8767 9200; dosanchutny.com
Asma Khan is the woman behind one of the country's most popular supper clubs, Darjeeling Express, so it's long overdue that it is finally getting its first permanent home, opening on 27 June. Influenced by bustling Calcutta and Asma's royal Mughlai ancestry, the menu has both street-food snacks and more formal dishes such as lamb dum biryani. Staying true to her roots, on Sundays she will host ticketed lunches themed around popular dishes from her supper club menus, with the Biryani Feast not to be missed.
Kingly Court, Carnaby Street, London W1B 5PW; darjeeling-express.com
Hansa Dabhi opened this Leeds institution back in 1986, when authentic Gujarati restaurants were few and far between in the UK, and has since expanded her culinary career by publishing two cookbooks and running regular cookery classes. Serving only vegetarian cuisine, the dishes are freshly cooked to order by her all-female team. Specialities include bite-size puris filled with chickpeas and onions and Hansa's Kenyan Special, which sees cassava and sweetcorn paired with a coconut sauce, while moving onto mains there's a wide range of expertly spiced vegetable and pulse-based curries. Make sure to leave room for afters, where traditional options of kulfi are offered alongside vegan desserts such as lapsi – bulgur wheat cooked in vegetable ghee with cinnamon, fennel, sultanas and cardamom.
72/74 North Street, Leeds, LS2 7PN; hansasrestaurant.com
Indian Summer Brighton
This Brighton restaurant invites visitors to leave any preconceptions of Indian cuisine at the door, and you'll certainly not find any generic kormas on the menu here. Among its specialities is the thali, allowing you to try out a number of dishes in one sitting, and here it is available in vegetarian, meat and prawn variations. Go beyond this and you'll find a tempting list of traditional, home-style curries such as Hyderabadi Murgh, a rich chicken dish delicately flavoured with nutmeg, cinnamon and coconut, and Malvani mutton, infused with cardamom, coriander, cumin and black pepper.
70 East Street, Brighton, BN1 1HQ; indiansummerbrighton.co.uk
Celebrities who have dined at these popular restaurants in Birmingham and Manchester may include chefs Heston Blumenthal and Paul Rankin, but sampling its award-winning Indian fare doesn't mean breaking the bank. Mix-and-match 'bolli bites' of succulent marinated chicken and spicy mushrooms are a must order but if you're having trouble picking from the wide-ranging menu go for one of the set meals. At the Manchester branch, the party menu provides your choice of kebab and curry to be mopped up with deliciously flaky whole wheat paratha and other assorted breads, while in Birmingham you can choose a veritable feast of different dishes designed to be shared by the whole table.
Various locations in Birmingham and Manchester; ashasrestaurant.co.uk
Recently opened Chai Thali brings a plethora of India's street food under one roof. Small plates make up almost half of the food on offer, from crisp samosas stuffed with spiced lamb or Amritsari-style peas and potatoes, to savoury rice cakes served with sambar, a lentil-based stew. There are equally tempting dishes of chicken, prawn and salmon coming straight from the tandoor oven. It's clear that just as much attention has been paid to the extensive drinks list, where you can wash down your meal with your choice of craft ale or opt for one of the signature cocktails such as the Chai Thali Mary, which sees whisky heated up with the addition of Tabasco, chat masala spice mix and topped with chilli garnish.
Centro 3, 19 Mandela Street, Camden, London, NW1 0DU; chaithali.com
Curry Leaf Cafe
There's a few different ways to enjoy the varied Indian cuisine offered by this Brighton-based restaurant group. At its original cafe on Ship Street you'll find a quirky take on South Indian street food, from thali and sharing platters to hybrid specials such as masala-battered fish and chips. You'll find its newest outpost near Kemptown village, with an open kitchen and dining area that allows guests to interact with the chef. The convivial atmosphere is continued with its menu of small plates designed for sharing. Like its predecessor, it uses locally sourced produce and also has a regularly rotating roster of craft beer and cocktails. For a quick bite on-the-go there's also the kiosk in Brighton station, with a concise menu of transportable treats, including tandoori chicken tikka sandwiches and paratha wraps.
Various locations in Brighton; curryleafcafe.com
Diwana Bhel Poori House
This unassuming restaurant tucked away beside Euston station has been keeping locals well fed with top-notch, good value vegetarian fare for decades. Taking you on a whistle-stop tour of India, start with a selection of snacks hailing from Bombay's Chowpatty Beach before moving on to the mains, where you can opt for the Madras dosas, topped with cheese, vegetables and chutney, or a Gujarat-style mixed thali. You'd be amiss, of course, to leave without sampling the bhel-poori, a light snack of crispy, fried pooris, puffed rice, sev and potatoes spiced up with green chilli chutney and a garlic relish.
121-123 Drummond Street, Euston, London, NW1 2HL; diwanabph.com
Whether you fancy a quick snack or a full three-course meal, this two-part restaurant is sure to fit the bill. The first room is street food inspired by market traders, roadside cafes and railway stations, with a range of small plates as well as more substantial offerings, from spicy mini burgers to earthy lamb and potato curries. The second room is more suitable for special occasions and serves up a refined and flavoursome take on Indian comfort food. Look out for the specials, which include a melt-in-the-mouth 16-hour slow-cooked lamb shoulder and confit duck with cinnamon, star anise and coconut.
3 Portman Mews South, London, W1H 6AY; rotichai.com
Tuk Tuk Indian Street Food, Edinburgh
Located on the site of an old beauty spa in the heart of Edinburgh, Tuk Tuk has become something of an Indian institution since it opened its doors back in 2013.
Most of the tapas-sized dishes are on offer for around £5 with highlights including Bengali fishcakes consisting of whole chunks of white fillet encased in a crisp, conker-coloured spicy batter.
USA Today’s 10 Best says Tuk Tuk “is a welcome addition to Edinburgh which brings with it an exuberant love of Indian street food and a kitsch sense of humour”; located in a “bright and vibrant” setting with the food “similarly exuberant”.
“The food at Tuk Tuk is more decent than incredible” says Gaby Soutar in The Scotsman, “still, it’s affordable, lively, quirky, and they offer free BYOB, so you’d have to be a real misery guts not to love it a little bit”.
1 Leven Street, Edinburgh, EH3 9NB; 0131 228 3322; tuktukonline.com
Navigating the differences between Indian regional cuisines can be tricky to the uninitiated, but with Potli's informative menu you can pick and choose from areas across the country to sample a wide selection. The extensive offering is therefore a good mix of familiar favourites such as chicken tikka as well as more adventurous options, while its collection of signature dishes is a safe bet if you want to try something new. The drinks list is also worth careful consideration; as well as traditional sweet and salty options it offers less common lassi flavours such as wild berry and Hyderabadi masala, while the wines come with extensive notes to ensure it's perfectly paired with your meal.
319-321 King Street, London, W6 9NH; potli.co.uk
If you fancy something other than a Cobra to wash down your Indian meal, head to Bundobust, which has outlets in Manchester and Leeds. The street-food and craft-beer specialist has a regularly rotating array of keg and cask options, best imbibed with a selection of the bar snacks, from crispy and colourful savoury rice puffs to nuts, peas and lentils tossed in the homemade spice mix. Elsewhere, the menu keeps things pleasingly simple, with an all-vegetarian offering of good-value small plates, making it impossible not to sample a selection. For a spicy take on burger and chips, opt for vada pav – a fried mashed-potato ball served in a brioche bun with chutney and hot chillies – with a side of okra fries. Or come for brunch and have egg bhurji - Indian scrambled egg – accompanied by a red snapper, its version of a bloody mary.
61 Piccadilly, Manchester, M1 2AQ, and 6 Mill Hill, Leeds, LS1 5DQ; bundobust.com
With the tag-line 'half plates and full drinks' and taking its namesake from 'talli' (Hindi for tipsy), this all-day drinking and dining establishment guarantees a good time. Its cocktail menu takes inspiration from all corners of India, from the day in Delhi – a heady mix of rum, lentil and rice syrup, biryani oil, lime and salt - to the Jaipur fizz, a light and summery combination of vodka, St Germain liqueur, rose shrub, lime and Prosecco. Sip with snacks of Kolkata-style fried beetroot and lentil fritters or sit down for a more substantial meal, with a selection from the similarly wide-ranging array of small plates.
152-154 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8HL; tallijoe.com
While Michelin-starred Tamarind of Mayfair has built its reputation on a high-end take on Indian cuisine, its new diner-style sister restaurant in Soho has created a more convivial atmosphere, based on small plates and sharing dishes. But, though the approach may be more relaxed and informal, you can still expect the same high standards. Delicately spiced selections of fish, seafood and game come straight from the kitchen's authentic tandoor oven, while homely south Indian classics of Hyderabadi gosht – succulent lamb slow cooked until it melts in the mouth – and fragrant Aleppy fish curry can be mopped up with a selection of signature breads. Continue the night downstairs at the subterranean bar offering a creative array of cocktails, alcoholic and otherwise.
167-169 Wardour Street, London, W1F 8WR; tamarindkitchen.co.uk
Tandoor Chop House
Sitting somewhere between traditional North Indian cuisine and a classic British chop house, the menu at this casual eatery is unsurprisingly all about the tandoor oven. Crispy lamb chops, tender masala boti-rubbed ribeye and garlic-laced paneer are eaten alongside indulgent bone marrow naan. Or turn up at lunchtime to enjoy the chop house roll, which sees succulent chicken encased in a warm naan filled with kohlrabi, fennel, yoghurt and homemade green chutney. Moving on to dessert, halva served with clotted cream recalls the pub-menu staple of sticky toffee pudding, while creamy and refreshing kulfi gets an update with the addition of caramelised banana and salted peanuts.
8 Adelaide Street, London, WC2N 4HZ; tandoorchophouse.com
Honoured with a Bib Gourmand award last year, this small and intimate dining destination is strictly no reservations, but it's well worth taking the gamble on getting a table. Together, founder Harneet Baweja and head chef Nirmal Save have come up with a menu inspired by traditional family recipes, but given a decidedly modern twist. The dramatic rasam ke bomb sees crisp, puffed-up puri sit atop a shot of flavoursome soup, while spicy venison and vermicelli is transformed into a savoury doughnut. Some even claim the lamb chops surpass those from cult favourites Tayyabs and Needoo.
11 White's Row, London, E1 7NF; gunpowderlondon.com
These Newcastle restaurants take their name from the dabbawalas, delivery workers who are essential to a smooth-running lunch service in Mumbai; every morning they visit the homes of the local people to collect boxes, which are later delivered to their workplace packed with a hearty midday meal. This Newcastle institution – with outposts in the centre of the city and the suburb of Jesmond – places a similar emphasis on filling and satisfying fare. While there's an extensive list of curries, the main event is its so-called 'tapas' menu of street food – opt for three or four dishes for a well-balanced spread. Among its signatures is the Bombay Bomb, a mix of puffed rice and gram-flour sev tossed in onion and pomegranate and served with tamarind and mint sauces.
69-75 High Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6BX, and 1 Brentwood Mews, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 3DG; dabbawal.com
In the evenings this restaurant, tucked away in Canary Wharf, offers a dedicated dinner menu featuring a modern take on Indian sharing plates – think chicken chaat with the tangy addition of pear and mango thyme dressing, or paneer skewers slathered with an Indo-Chinese chilli Schezwan dip. However, it’s the all-day dining concept the Toddy Shop Bar (named after the casual drinking establishments found in Kerala) that is the main draw. Indulge in a leisurely start to the day with an array of dishes that give an extra kick to some breakfast classics, from bacon buns laced with tamarind tomato ketchup to fragrant cinnamon porridge heaped with bananas and strawberries. The diverse influences carry through to the all-day menu, which features an extensive list of bar plates and nibbles as well as more substantial meals, from burger-style bites to more conventional curries.
Crossrail Place, London, E14 5AR; chai-ki.com
Indian Tiffin Room
With outposts in Manchester and Cheadle, this popular Indian street-food restaurant comes with a good pedigree, having been set up by chefs who formerly worked at the prestigious Zaika and Gymkhana in London. An amalgamation of regional dishes from across India, it places authentic flavours and healthy ingredients at the fore. The cornerstone of the wide-ranging menu is its South Indian tiffin dishes – light bites eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner from dosas filled with chilli chutney and potato masala to idly, a savoury steamed dumpling, here packed with rice and lentils or crushed and sauteed with onions and the restaurant's signature spice mix. The Indian Tiffin Room is particularly good for vegans, with a dedicated menu that's nearly as extensive –and just as creative – as the main offering. Graze on crunchy mysore bonda (lentil fritters), homemade Punjabi-style vegetable samosas and deliciously crispy bhel puri (a mix of pastry, potato and puffed rice coated in date chutney), or choose a warming plateful of sweet potato curry or spicy black lentils served with rice.
Locations in Manchester and Cheadle; indiantiffinroom.com
The Chilli Pickle
Dawn and Alan Sperring, the wife and husband team behind this popular restaurant, took inspiration from their travels to India – as well as a stint at the high-end Cinnamon Club in London – to set up The Chilli Pickle in Brighton. The varied menu offers fresh and modern takes on the classics, from tandoori lamb served with vibrant beetroot raita and mint chilli pickle, to dosas heaped with vegetable curry and coconut chutney. For a laid-back feast, pay a visit on a Sunday for a boozy brunch with fiery Bloody Marys and street food, or take advantage of its award-winning delivery service. Try the Grand Thali Box, a generous assortment of curry and all the prerequisite accompaniments, or one of the Railway Trays – inspired by the meals served on the Shatabdi Express, India's second fastest train.
17 Jubilee Street, Brighton, BN1 1GE; thechillipickle.com
Launched at the start of 2017 in London's Fitzrovia, Lokhandwala comes from the team behind The Grub Fest, India's biggest food festival. Its focus is on small plates with a healthy twist. Start with one of a range of vegan Vedic shots and smoothies, which incorporate ingredients from centuries-old Indian well-being regimes. Follow by taking your pick from the tapas menu where traditional dishes such as gujju vaal daal chaat – lentils and black pulses served with yoghurt and chutney – sit alongside more contemporary recipes such as the Mexican-influenced potato skin Vepudo tacos filled with sea bass or cauliflower, radishes and Andhra hot spices. The drinks menu is just as attractive; the main restaurant leads to The Hot House cocktail bar at the rear, which serves bespoke concoctions that take inspiration from Asian culture.
93 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 4PY; lokhandwala.co.uk
This is the latest addition to Vivek Singh's culinary empire, which includes the upmarket Cinnamon Club in Westminster. The all-day dining concept is a feast for the senses, inspired by the colours, smells, sights and sounds of the bazaars dotted along the spice route. Pick from the varied a la carte menu showcasing the diverse influences that made their way across the trail, or ask to see Chamiya, a moveable hand-painted cart that serves a tempting array of the restaurant's signature chaat dishes (savoury snacks popular across India).
28 Maiden Lane, London WC2E 7JS; cinnamon-bazaar.com
Dishoom may be notorious for its no-booking policy and subsequent queues round the block, but it's well worth the wait. An homage to the Irani cafes once commonplace in Bombay, it brings the influence right up to date with an all-day menu of tempting small plates, fragrant marinated meats fresh from the grill and rich and hearty curries. If you can't get a table at any of its five outposts (four in London and another in Edinburgh) then opt for a takeaway, which includes its signature roomali rolls – delicate handkerchief bread liberally stuffed with a choice of spicy charred chicken or minty paneer that are perfect on the go.
Various locations; dishoom.com
Birmingham, home of the Balti Triangle, has no shortage of acclaimed curry houses and self-taught chef Aktar Islam presides over some of the best in the city. The chic Lasan earned him the title of best local restaurant in Gordon Ramsey's The F Word and its more casual sister restaurant, Raja Monkey, has continued its success. Perhaps the best way to sample the diverse offering is to opt for one of the thalis, a platter-style plate comprising multiple dishes, while locals can take advantage of its tiffin club – the meal is delivered in one of the traditional multi-compartmented steel containers, which will be replaced with one full of food every time you order again at a discounted price.
1355 Stratford Road, Birmingham, B28 9HW; rajamonkey.co.uk
Hoppers is the brainchild of the Sethi siblings behind Gymkhana, who have here turned their attention to the street food of Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu. The star item from which it takes its name is a thin, bowl-shaped fermented pancake made from rice flour and coconut milk, which is then generously topped with your choice of vegetable, meat or fish kari. Even the cocktail list showcases the best the region has to offer, incorporating spirits such as arrack, made from the fermented sap of coconut flowers, into punchy and flavoursome combinations.
49 Frith Street, London, W1D 4SG; hopperslondon.com
Kricket's modern Indian small plates were among the star attractions at the trendy temporary retail space Pop Brixton and it set up its first permanent location earlier this year in Soho. Its considered and concise menu combines premium British ingredients with authentic Indian flavours, while its expansive drinks list, ranging from creative cocktails to a selection of locally produced craft ales, only adds to the relaxed and social atmosphere.
12 Denman Street, London, W1D 7HH; kricket.co.uk
The Thali Cafe
This mini-chain of five restaurants scattered around Bristol started out in 1999 as a street food truck serving the hungry and mud-weary revellers at Glastonbury. Just like the famous festival, it takes its environmental credentials seriously; it was the first Indian restaurant group to be awarded the highest rating by the Sustainable Restaurant Association, focusing on locally sourced meat and fish and seasonal fruit and vegetables. It ensures the provenance of its foods by making as much as possible in house, even down to its award-winning kulfi ice cream and homemade cordials and coffee syrups.
Various locations in Bristol; thethalicafe.co.uk
Nisha Katona gave up her 20-year career as a barrister to pursue her obsession with curry, setting up Mowgli in Liverpool and following with a further outpost in Manchester a year later. She aims to dispel the myth that Indian cuisine is unhealthy with menus packed full of fresh and vibrant flavours, plus its fair share of vegan and gluten-free options too. As well as writing about food for publications including the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Times and The Independent, she even has her own YouTube channel to help you recreate the dishes at home.
Various locations in Liverpool and Manchester; mowglistreetfood.com
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