Something old, something new – 2 Indian restaurants you must visit

Cafe Spice Namaste

From fairly bland beginnings, London’s Indian restaurant scene has at long last gathered the momentum of a speeding bullet train. From venues specialising in a specific dish (here’s lookin’ at you, DUM Biryani House), to those twisting street eats and family favourites into arresting new arrangements (please step up, Kricket and Talli Joe), to operations honouring the time-tested cuisines of India’s ancient royal courts (Darbaar by Abdul, this one’s for you), the palate-pleasing food on offer in the capital is finally opening eyes to the sheer scope and diversity of a country with far more to offer than ‘curry’.

But lest we forget, the new wave would be nothing without the old guard; Vivek Singh wooing politicians with Westminster’s Cinnamon Club; Alfred Prasad earning a Michelin star aged 28 at Tamarind; Veeraswamy flying the flag for fine Indian food since 1926; and Incredible Spice Man Cyrus Todiwala further earning that moniker with every television appearance, festival demo, and restaurant opening.

Try the old, try the new. Have double the fun and fall in love with both – starting with this pair…

SOMETHING OLD: Cafe Spice Namaste

Cyrus Todiwala Cafe Spice Namaste

For the past 21 years, this East London jewel has been dishing up Desi delights from the mind and kitchen of Cyrus Todiwala. As much ‘welcoming home’ as ‘restaurant’, it’s an Indian food institution where it’s rare a first time diner doesn’t become a much-valued regular. Decor and food flavours alike are bright and bold, and Cyrus refuses to take customer favourites off a menu which also features regularly-changing seasonal specials (and ample information on the brilliant British producers behind them).

What to order

Mr Todiwala’s chutneys & papad – Featuring peerless house-made relishes

Vindalho de carne de porco – The Real-deal Goan dish. Fiery, flavoursome and fabulous

Dhaansaak – A rare example of the authentic Persian-influenced Parsi special

The fun fact

Snaring a seat at the monthly ‘Khaadraas Club’ is like dining in the Todiwala’s own home – you’ll eat a family-style meal introduced by your hosts.

The name to drop

Pervin Todiwala. Cyrus’s wife is a wickedly-warm, wonderful host – and a top-level chef in her own right.

  • Cafe Spice Namaste, 16 Prescot St, London E1 8AZ. For more information, click here

SOMETHING NEW: The Baluchi at The Lalit

The Baluchi at The Lalit Indian restaurant London

Not just new, but super swish: in India, The Baluchi appears within the finest hotels. In the capital, it’ll take up residence at the first British outpost of luxury hotel group, The Lalit. The menu is long and comprises a mixture of uber-traditional regional specialities and offbeat, modern meals. Esoteric ingredients are sourced from the subcontinent, there’s an in-house bakery called The Naanery, and glam, Desi-accented design further adds to the authentic experience.

What to order

Suroor e shorba – Coconut-and-cognac-spiked Kerala-style lobster bisque

Gilafi pheasant ki seeki – Minced pheasant with peppers, chicken liver rillettes & fenugreek crumble

Teen ka meetha – Carrot halwa, salted chilli chocolate marquise & cardamom brulee

The fun fact

Mid-afternoon energy slump? Pop into the Baluchi Gallery for afternoon tiffin treats like Punjabi samosas and Bangla Scotch eggs.

The name to drop

Arup Dasupta. The Baluchi’s exec chef has roved India’s regions, tasting and mastering the country’s cuisines.

  • The Baluchi, The Lalit London, The Great Hall, 181 Tooley Street, London SE1 2JR. For more information, click here
  • To read more about Pervin Todiwala, click here
  • To read more about Darbaar by Abdul, click here
  • To read more about Talli Joe, click here

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