Ever since we left India 4 years ago I have been on the hunt for great Indian food everywhere we go. After living in India for almost a decade, you can imagine our standards are quite high. We need a good variety of dishes common to India (aka paneer), good spice levels and authentic tastes. It is not easy, but we have found some delicious Indian food around the world, sometimes in the least expected places! One of our favorite Indian food discoveries was on our trip to Fiji last year. It was a small hole in the wall place that our taxi driver recommended when we had a 2 hour layover before our flight home. It was a perfect and unexpected way to end our trip.
However, we have found our new favorite Indian restaurant that is not in India. It’s the old style Irani Bombay cafe chain restaurant Dishoom in London. I know, it’s a chain restaurant, but keep reading!
Many of our expat friends from our days in Mumbai are from London, so when they suggested we try Dishoom, I knew it had to be good. It was better than good, it was as close as I have found to my favorite place in Mumbai.
Dishoom is a now well-established take on the old Irani cafés in 1960s era Bombay. These days there are only a few of the traditional Irani cafe’s left in Mumbai, but thankfully it’s spirit has moved to London with the crowd favorite Dishoom bringing in locals and tourists alike to critical acclaim.
My son and I arrived on Thursday afternoon excited to finally try some authentic Indian food. Much to our dismay there was a long line outside, even at 4 p.m. on a weekday! Come to find out, Dishoom always has a horribly long wait, which is made worse by the fact that you have to stay in line, outside (if there is no space at the bar/waiting area). In summer this was OK, but in the rain or in winter it could be miserable. But trust me, the wait is worth it. And to make you feel a bit better, Dishoom offers free masala chai (so delicious I even let my son try it!) or nimbu pani (fresh lime water) while you wait.
What to Order
Once you make it inside, you are sure to be overwhelmed with the options on the menu. If you aren’t sure what to get, order something from our recommendations. Trust me, we sampled a ton of food! Start with the Okra Fries. This is one of my favorite dishes in India and you will almost never see it outside of the country. In India it is often called Lady Fingers or Bhindi Masala. Unfortunately at Dishoom, it does not come with the masala gravy, rather a chutney, but nevertheless it is worth trying. The crispy goodness will convert even staunch okra haters!
We also tried the samosa’s but we were not super impressed with these in terms of authenticity, however, they were still delicious. Another favorite from our days in Mumbai that you will not often come across outside of India is Pau Bhaji (mashed potatoes and vegetables in a buttery bun). And Dishoom does it right. Delicious street food in an upscale dining environment!
The one dish that finally brought me to Dishoom was paneer. It is difficult to find great paneer outside of India, and apparently very few places in London have it, so if you make your way to Dishoom, you must try the Paneer Tikka. It is a perfectly spiced and charred slab of thick cheese (similar to very firm tofu). The spices were much like my favorite paneer tikka in Mumbai, a good amount of heat, but enough yogurty sauce to not send your mouth into drool overdrive.
For pescatarians, the Masala Prawns are amazing. I have to admit I never had such an amazing masala prawn dish in India, but the spices at Dishoom make it feel just like you are in India.
For a traditional Indian dish to compare with other Indian restaurants, try the Dishoom Chicken Tikka. I know I am loading you down, but there are too many amazing dishes at Dishoom.
In India if a dish doesn’t have a sauce, it is called a dry dish. To sample one of these, order the Gunpowder Potatoes.
But don’t get too stuffed, because you have to save room for my absolute favorite, Dishoom’s signature Black Dal. It is as close as I have found to my favorite dal in India and is enough to make me jump on a flight to London just to have a taste! It is cooked for 24 hours to ensure that the spices are blended to perfection. Finish it all off with some butter naan.
And now have an Uber account handy because someone will have to roll you home!
There are several locations in London, several super convenient for tourists. Having visited the Covent Garden, Shoreditch and King’s Cross locations, we prefer the Kings Cross location as it feels open and airy in it’s old timey transit shed. The wait times also seem slightly less than the other restaurants.
The Covent Garden location is right in the middle of the action, which also means very long wait times. The restaurant here feels smaller, darker and more intimate to me than the King’s Cross location, but if you are in the area for a show, it makes a great place to have dinner. If you have more than 6 in your party, you can make reservations in advance, which I highly highly recommend!
Writing all of this up has me aching to hop on a plane again just for some of this delicious food!
Do you have a favorite Indian restaurant in London? Share your favorites with us in the comments below.
If You Enjoyed This Post, Sign Up To Receive Posts By Email or...
- Join us on Facebook for regular updates and related articles
- Check us out on Instagram to see what we are up to in photos
- Follow us on Twitter for links to great travel articles curated just for you
- Or share this post with others by pinning on Pinterest!