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The Best Places in the UK for flavour-packed South Asian grub…

From high-end restaurants to low-key cafés, there’s no shortage of places to devour the nation’s favourite dish. Here Deputy Editor Kayleigh Rattle recommends some of her favourite places…

BEST FOR BREAKFAST… DISHOOM, LONDON

Even if you haven’t tried it for yourself, chances are you’ll have heard of or seen pictures of this Bombay-style café’s infamous breakfasts. Whether you’re planning on tucking into their bacon and egg naan roll (featuring lipsmackingly good bacon from The Ginger Pig), West Country fried eggs on chilli cheese toast or a three-egg omelette, we can guarantee love at first bite. For a lighter option, there’s porridge, granola and house ‘fire toast’ served with pineapple and pink peppercorn jam. Once you’ve worked your way through the tantalising breakfast menu, you might as well stay for lunch – (we’d be lying if we said we hadn’t done that before!). Find Dishoom in London’s Shoreditch, King’s Cross, Covent Garden, Carnaby Street and Kensington, as well as Edinburgh. dishoom.com

Breakfast at Dishoom

 

BEST FOR A CURRY BRUNCH ZOUK TEA BAR, MANCHESTER & BRADFORD

Why settle for beans on toast when you could have a Maharaja’s breakfast at Zouk Tea Bar? The Indian equivalent of a full English, this giant plate features scrambled or fried eggs served with a seekh kebab, turkey rasher, spicy tomatoes, mushrooms, spicy baked beans and kulcha naan. Scrambled eggs with paneer, spicy eggy bread and a Masala omelette packed with fiery green chilli, ginger, coriander and spices are also available, as well as breakfast smoothies, yogurt and granola. 9am-1pm every weekend, zoukteabar.co.uk

BEST FOR SEAFOOD… SEA SPICE, ALDEBURGH

This pretty coastal town in Suffolk is a haven for seafood lovers, with freshly caught crab, lobster and all manner of fish being sold in wooden fish huts dotted along the promenade. And Sea Spice certainly benefits from the location; there’s everything from daycaught lobster to pan seared sea bass on the menu, as well as some of the most succulent scallops we’ve ever tasted. You’ll also find Goan-inspired seafood dishes, an incredibly fragrant king prawn coconut curry and a sizzling salmon tikka from the tandoor to tuck into, all served within a chic and homely environment (be sure to grab a window seat to make the most of the sea view). seaspice.co.uk

BEST FOR VEGETARIANS… RASA, LONDON

Focusing on Keralan specialties (think plenty of coconut, mango, ginger and banana leaves), Rasa has been flying the flag for vegetarian curries for years thanks to its fragrant, flavoursome and inventive dishes. In addition to curries, soups and dosas, there’s also a large selection of exciting sides including black eyed beans stir fried with onions, coconut, mustard seeds, chilli and curry leaves, or a Keralan salad of guava, avocado, stir fried Indian shallots, coconut, lime juice and chilli. Rasa’s lunch offerings are also first-class and fantastically priced; for only £2.95 the Rasa Meal Box includes basmati rice, bread, two vegetable curries, a stir fried vegetable dish and a dessert. Find them tucked unassumingly behind Oxford Street’s bustling thoroughfare and in Stoke Newington. rasarestaurants.com 

Zouk Tea Bar

BEST FOR MICHELIN STARRED CURRY… JAMAVAR, LONDON

Specialising in regional Indian dishes, this elegant restaurant set in London’s Mayfair recently acquired its first Michelin star and serves up delectable dishes within its two elegant dining rooms. But don’t let the formality put you off; the early bird four-course menu (available during lunch hours and before 7pm) is really affordable. At just £32 it’s a steal, especially considering the quality of the output – the Malai stone bass with cardamom avocado and chutney is particularly divine. jamavarrestaurants.com

BEST FOR TRADITIONAL FARE… SHISH MAHAL, GLASGOW

Glasgow is often regarded as one of the curry capitals of the UK. In fact, it’s thought that the famous chicken tikka masala was conceived at this Glaswegian institution by its much-loved owner, Mr Ali, who opened Shish Mahal in the 1960s. Today, it’s as busy as ever, with more than 60% of the clientele deemed ‘regulars’. The menu is a tome, an outstanding tour de force of India’s varying cuisine, but punters tend to go crazy for the lamb bhoonas and anything from the tandoori (it’s believed their clay oven was the first in Scotland). The tuna steak karahi is also a thing of beauty. shishmahal.co.uk

BEST FOR CRAFT BEER LOVERS… BUNDOBUST, MANCHESTER

There’s now a Bundobust in Leeds and Manchester and we wouldn’t be surprised if the concept continues to spread across the UK. Think of it as a craft beer joint serving topnotch veggie food within a paired back, communal setting. We recommend ordering a selection of four to five plates between two, or a couple of dishes for each round of drinks, or, if you’re feeling particularly hungry, you can attempt  to devour the entire menu for £66! bundobust.com

Sea Spice

BEST FOR  AFTERNOON TEA… CINNAMON SOHO, LONDON

Vivek Singh may have a string of impressive modern Indian restaurants under his belt but it’s Cinnamon Soho we head to for ‘high chai’, a spicy take on the well-loved British ceremony that is afternoon tea. Alongside plenty of masala chai tea it comes with a selection of moreish snacks including potato bonda with green chutney, mint samosas with caramelised onions, Tandoori chicken and chutney sandwiches and lamb sliders. For the sweet-toothed, there’s plum cake and chocolate tartlets with dates and ginger to satisfy any cravings. cinnamonsoho.com

BEST FOR QUALITY ON A BUDGET… LAHORE, LONDON

Venture to East London’s Brick Lane and you’ll not be short of places to find a cheap curry. But if you’re looking for one that’s top quality, it’s all about hidden gem Lahore, situated between Aldgate and Whitechapel. On top of fantastic kebabs, grilled lamb and chilli paneer, this Pakastani grill house also serves sizeable, fluffy naans and wellspiced curries, biryanis and chaana – their much-revered signature dish of slow-cooked chickpeas in butter and herbs. You won’t find your typical restaurant setting here though; it’s bring-yourown-booze and the décor is pretty plain, but this makes the food stand out even more. Find out more at lahoreone.co.uk

BEST FOR THE HOME OF BALTI… LASAN, BIRMINGHAM

Housed in a former gallery in Birmingham’s leafy Jewellery Quarter, this neighbourhood gem has become somewhat of an institution, regularly attracting curry lovers in their droves. It’s also recently had a sophisticated makeover, drawing inspiration from the grand bars and restaurants frequented by India’s upper classes in Delhi and Jaipur. The menu boasts some seriously tasty veggie options (sweet potato kofta anyone?) and new dishes include guinea fowl korma and salli keema, minced lamb with cooked fresh green chill, finished with yogurt and topped with a duck egg. Yum! lasangroup.com

Hoppers

BEST FOR A TASTE OF SRI LANKA… HOPPERS, LONDON

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that you’ll have to queue to get into this popular Soho restaurant, but trust us, it’s worth it. Serving masterfully spiced Sri Lankan curries, dosas, kothu and the eponymous hoppers – delicate, bowl-shaped fermented rice and coconut milk pancakes (go for the one with the fried egg in the middle) – Hoppers is truly something special. And for those that can’t abide queuing, you’ll be happy to hear there’s now a second branch in St Christopher’s Place, just off Oxford Street. It takes reservations, has 85 seats and also offers a ‘Taste of Hoppers’ menu where you can sample eight of the restaurant’s key dishes, plus yogurts, sambol and chutneys for £28. Hurrah! hopperslondon.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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