Munch an Indian brunch… out and about in London

Brunch at Benares London Indian restaurant Atul Kochhar

When breakfast is too early and lunch is too late, brunch bridges the gap. Pop a masala omelette, a bowl of kedgeree, or a milky-sweet masala chai on the menu, and the mid-morning meal can also form a bridge between the cuisines of Britain and India.

Whether dining out or at home, alone or with a crowd, this meal must be taken at leisure. Don’t attempt to squash it into a narrow slot in the schedule. Because, when it comes to artful brunching, the only thing that should be squeezed are those tasty little lemons for the nimbu pani.

The venues

La Porte des Indes

La Porte des Indes chard water chestnut pakoras

A buffet brunch at La Porte des Indes may commence with a tipple in the leaf-laden Jungle Bar, and is taken beside a forty-foot waterfall built from pink stone imported from Jaipur, soundtracked by live jazz. Live cooking stations yield snacky items like mini masala dosas and chaat. Don’t overindulge on the multiple mains you’re given free rein with, because you’ll find an entire table groaning with desserts begging you to try mithais, mousses, and more.

12-30pm – £35 pp – for info click here

Benares

Brunch at Benares London Indian restaurant Atul Kochhar

Benares’ new brunch menu is the ideal excuse for a smart Sunday outing. The menu; made up of small plates like dhokla, vada pav, masala omelette, and Kerala fish curry; is served family-style – so don’t forget to remember that sharing is caring, and piggies never prosper. Whether or not you opt for the ‘unlimited wine’ bolt-on, the only thing you’ll have to whine about after the fifteen-plus dishes is a full tummy.

12-8.45pm – £45pp – for info click here

Dishoom

Dishoom breakfast brunch London Indian eggs kejriwal cheese toast Bombay

At Dishoom, those in the know order their bacon naan rolls with a runny egg nestled inside – but they also know that there’s more to the menu than that fat flatbread; from bun maska ordered alongside the obligatory tumbler of masala chai for dunking, to akuri – spiced scrambled eggs that are an Irani cafe classic; via Eggs Kejriwal – a cheesy, eggy invention of the upmarket Willingdon Club. Then there’s a big old Bombay brekkie…

8-11am / 9am-12 – dishes from £2.70 – for info click here

Karnavar

Dhokla Karnavar restaurant Indian brunch Croydon London buffet

Arrive at Karnavar ravenous, or you won’t do it justice. With unlimited access to a host of roasts and numerous live cooking stations, and the food washed down with a glass of few of Champagne, you’ll need every square inch of stomach space you can get. From delectable dahi vada and dhokla to regional roasts with all the trimmings through to sweet stuff like Keralite adaipradhaman, you will want it all.

from 12 noon – £45pp – for info click here

The Cinnamon Club

Vivek Singh Cinnamon Kitchen Club cookbook kedgeree Indian London restaurant Blomsbury publishing Absolute Press

They say that the early bird catches the worm, so if you happen to find yourself Westminster-way of a morning, pop into The Cinnamon Club for a delicious Desi way to start the day. While pedants may argue that technically it’s more breakfast than brunch, the fact that one can pop in for variously-topped, crepe-like uttappams with chutney and sambar, kedgeree, or Bombay-style scrambled eggs is worthy of note.

weekdays 7.30-9.30 am – from £7 – for info click here

The Park Cafe

The Park Cafe in the Hub Victoria Park London vada pav potato burger slider Jamsheed Cyrus Todiwala brunch

Tucked away in East London’s Victoria Park, you’ll find a cafe where you can tuck into Indian breakfasts, secret seven-spice masala chai, regularly-changing thalis, and Parsi heritage specials. ‘Why?’ I hear you cry. Because that cafe is part of the Todiwala’s empire, and the manager – Cyrus and Pervin’s son Jamsheed – is determined to spice up the lives and diets of visitors. Soon to land are puffs stuffed with beetroot & coconut or curried lamb.

10am-5pm – various prices – for info click here


The pop-up purveyors

Papi’s Pickles

Papi's Pickles breakfast brunch London Indian South pop-up breakfast brunch dosa idli sambar chutney

A South Indian-style brunch is a beautiful thing indeed, and Papi’s Pickles is doing a great job of popularising the occasion through pop-ups right here in London town. You’ll frequently find the family-run social enterprise appearing as guest hosts-with-the-most at venues like Brixton’s Cornercopia and Cafe Nova in Portobello, dishing up dosas, uttappams and idlis acoompanied by lashings of chutney and sambhar.

For more information on forthcoming events, click here

Dhaba Lane

Dhaba Lane paratha brunch breakfast Indian bread London pop-up

Visit Arti and Upma for brunch and you’ll be fed like a family member – warmly, amply, and well. Encompassing a bit of cold, a bit of hot, a bit of savoury and a bit of sweet, the menu is a treat; and best chowed with a crowd. You’ll start with chai and a mango shake, but this is more than a liquid brunch – latterly involving upma, pancake-like chilas,  shrikhand, and India’s own answer to French toast. There’s even bacon, popped into a paratha roll.

For more information on forthcoming events, click here

Dosa Deli

Dosa Deli

You can pick up one of Double D’s dosas any time of day, but they’re extra brilliant as a brunchtime bite. Depending where they’ve set up stall that day, you might gorge one gluttonously after a big night at Glastonbury or nibble it on a leisurely wander around Brockley market, accompanied by the guys’ chai. Served with sambhar and chutney and stuffed with stuff like spiced potatoes or chilli cheese, one suspects one might not be enough.

For more information on market and festival appearances, click here

Horn OK Please

Horn OK Please dosa

When you find yourself browsing Borough Market or strolling the Southbank near to Waterloo, get those nostrils twitching. If your lungful of London air is scented with spice, it might well mean you can pop along to HOP’s stall for a bit of brunch. The street food superstars’ soft, spongy mung dal dosa is not only legendary and vegetarian, but also gluten free. Finger-lickin’ good and best eaten by hand.

For more information on market and festival appearances, click here


Brunching for a cause

Curry for Change Find Your Feet charity rural community women

If you’ve caught the brunch bug and want your greed to help feed those less fortunate, you should know that Benares is on board with Find Your Feet’s #CurryForChange. Visit soon, because throughout June, the restaurant will be adding the small sum of a pound to your bill, generously donating all that’s generated to the charity’s annual fundraising campaign.

For more information on dining out for #CurryForChange, click here

Fully-subscribed member of the brunch bunch? Stay tuned: next week, I’ll reveal how to enjoy the meal in your own home.

  • To read my ultimate guide to dosas, click here
  • To read more about #CurryForChange’s partnered restaurants, click here
  • To read more about the Indo-French cuisine at La Porte des Indes, click here
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3 responses to “Munch an Indian brunch… out and about in London

  1. Pingback: Munch an Indian brunch… in your own home | Culinary Adventures of The Spice Scribe·

  2. Pingback: What’s on in July: Indian events in London and beyond | Culinary Adventures of The Spice Scribe·

  3. Pingback: Moving forward, looking back – 2015’s best bits & greatest hits | Culinary Adventures of The Spice Scribe·

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