While Paris has nothing on London when speaking of top curry houses, there are a few jewels among the dross of copycat and cookie-cutter establishments that litter the gastronomic landscape of the City of Lights. Here are a few choice Indian restaurant selections, a consumer sans moderation, plus a couple extra locales for dressing and acting the part.
Everyday on Gridskipper we give you a new map. Some are new, some are fetched from our archive, newly updated. Happy Gridskipping Another favorite in the Berlin pastiche of "multi-kulti" is Indian food. Though certainly not as popular as Arabic and Asian cuisine, India's curried stews and lentil soups have a tender place of their own in Berlin's heart. Once again, spicy dishes are prepared to suit fearful palates, so expect a kind of simulacrum of Indian cuisine. Follow the map for some genuine, lovingly made dishes. But if you like hot, be sure to make that clear when ordering.
Vegetarians with a craving for Indian food will find no trouble finding suitable nosh in London, where many restaurants specialize in the cooking of Southern India. Here's a selection of favorite local addresses where vegetarians can get their dosas. The food at these places is so good that even the carnivores will forget what they're missing.
I've always found it weird (and to some extent eerie) when I see non-Indians worshiping Krishna and dressed like Indian pandits. I respect that people want to follow Hinduism, but being an Indian myself, it's hard to come to terms with a Spanish guy called Carlos who has renamed himself "Arjuna," has shaved his head, draped himself in orange robes, and is singing bhajans (Indian spiritual hymns) in Hindi. Anyway, the most important reason for anyone to visit Madrid's Krishna restaurant -- located inside the Hare Krishna Cultural Center at Calle Espiritu Santo 19 in barrio Malasaña -- is the food.
I spent the weekend in Barcelona with some vegans, and strangely enough (carnivore though I am), I didn't miss meat as I was taken to some really neat vegetarian places. It's hard to find vegetarian restaurants in Spain, let alone vegan; Juicy Jones is one of the few where you can have a 100% vegan meal. And, except for the desserts, it's fantastic. There are two branches in Barcelona: at Calle Cardenal Casañas 7 and Calle Hospital 61. They normally serve a mix of international and Indian food.
Everyone knows that Indian food is among the best grub you can find in London. For some, Friday night curry means a sloppy tikka masala after too many pints at the pub. But for all the post-pub curry dens in London, there are an increasing number of fine dining establishments serving Indian haute cuisine with soignée decor, refined menus, astronomical prices, and even a constellation of Michelin stars.
Almost all "Indian" restaurants in Madrid are located in the multicultural immigrant barrio of Lavapies; what most don't realize is that they are not Indian, they are in fact Bangladeshi (some of whom have never been to India). An exception is Mr. India (Plaza Lavapiés, 5), situated right outside the metro station in Plaza Lavapies. India-Bangladesh, same difference you might say -- but no, although the food maybe similar, the taste and cooking style is distinct and often lost when Bengalis in Madrid try to cook Indian food.
This week's Dining section in the New York Times featured a great article on the Indian street food called chaat. Found in dozens of varieties, chaat is most often a mess o' fried something (dough, or potatoes, or some other starch, or something else entirely) flavored all kinds of ways -- sweet, spicy, salty, soft, crunchy, sour, and nutty. As we mentioned yesterday, Delhi is considering a ban on all street vendors as a way to improve the general cleanliness of that city. Fortunately, there are many many health-certified indoor establishments to get deliciously unhealthy chaat in New York. After the jump, our chaatly suggestions.
With the biggest Indian population outside of India, London is overwhelmed with excellent Indian Bangladeshi and Pakistani joints. Most of the popular curry houses are set on and around Brick Lane, and it's especially hard for a non-Indian visitor to discriminate among them. Locals and immigrants are sometimes passionately loyal to one curry over another, so it never hurts to ask for suggestions. For a little guidance, we've put together a list of inexpensive curry choices -- the kind of eats you're quite content to take home and gobble down in front of the TV, or on the run, or before (or during) an ambitious pub-crawl.