Desi food invasion in London 

Here’s what this blog post won’t be including- bastardised versions of my beloved Desi food.

What is Desi? An endearing term you use for all things from the Indian Sub-continent, mainly Pakistan.

How can you use this term? I’m a Desi girl/boy or just a Desi will do too 😄

My list will mention the places I love going back to again and again AND a token new entry- see if you can spot it 😏. Places and their food that reminds me of back home, fills me with nostalgia and wish my mum was feeding me her food 🥘 🇵🇰

Here’s the run down peeps:

1. Raavi Kebab House, Drummond Street 🇵🇰: Closest stations: Warren Street and Euston Square

Open since: The 1970s…looong time!

I was hesitant about adding this to my list only because I didn’t want people making this place so busy that I won’t get a table straight away 😬 then my selfishness subsided…

They first opened as a place nostalgic students from Pakistan and India could come and get a home cooked plate of some of their favourite curries and biryanis.

Surprisingly located in Central London (and not super East or West West!), Drummond Street is home to some really good Pakistani and Indian restaurants. I also do my Desi grocery from here 😏 aaall the spices, frozen parathas and kebabs galore!

What you shouldn’t expect much of: interior, ambience, quality service (they try their best 🤷🏻‍♀️).

What you should expect:

Cheap and delicious authentic Pakistani food- from Haleem to Nihari; Lamb Chops, Seekh Kebabs and Biryanis galore. 🤤

2. Empress Market, Mare Street:

Note: Empress Market have ended their residency at Mare Street but they will be opening up in a new location soon. So follow them on Instagram to get the latest news on their whereabouts.

Closest station: Bethnal Green and take a bus down (5 mins tops!). Or if you’re near Broadway Market then you can just walk up to the main road.

As the residency of Empress Market on Mare Street is coming to an end, I can’t help but feel sad that I won’t be able to get the best parathas and home made Murgh masala just off Broadway Market 😩

Here’s a recap of some of their delicious lipsmacking mouthwatering food 🤤🤤🤤

3. Darjeeling Express, Kingly Court:

Cuisine type: Indian, Bengali

Asma’s supperclubs had a cult following and now she’s gone on to open the successful and much talked about, Darjeeling Express. Conveniently located in the midst of Carnaby Street on the 2nd floor of Kingly Court, it’s a quiet respite from the craziness of Christmas shoppers plaguing the streets of central London 😩😆

I took my best friend visiting me from Istanbul and she loved it SO much.

I’ll let the photos do the talking 😋

4. Dhaba @ 49, Maida Vale:

Occasion? Opening night.

Cuisine: Indian

Dhaba @ 49 is the newest opening in town. I was invited to their opening night and try out their menu.

For an opening night, their food was on point- as you would expect. My favourite starter was the Amritsari Fish and from the mains the Paneer Butter Masala was a pleasant surprise 🤤

I would definitely go back to see how they are doing post their opening night 😃

5. Tandoor Chop House, Covent Garden: 

Nearest stations: Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, Leicester Square (you can walk from either of these)

One of the restaurants owned by the Soho House group. Truth be told I was really sceptical about this place. Having grown up in Pakistan with one of the BEST tandoori food you can find in the world (yes, no joke!), I wondered what these guys knew about tandoori meat and whether they will ruin what tandoori food is all about… 🤭

But I’m not one to make assumptions without giving these guys a chance so we ended up there for lunch one day.

What did we order?

  • House Tandoori chicken (obvs!)
  • Bone Marrow Butter Naan ( because I’m obsessed with bone marrow)
  • Delhi Mix (it was average)
  • Keema Naan (can’t seem to find this dish on the menu and if they’ve taken it off then I’m SO GLAD they have 🙄 The juices from the keema made the Naan underneath soggy and not enjoyable at all. You can get away with serving this if you literally send it from the chef to the table as soon as it’s assembled. Otherwise it will never work out )

Overall verdict:  Pleasantly surprised with the tandoori chicken. I have to say it invoked a little bit of nostalgia, did not knock me off my feet though.

Bone marrow naan was a disappointment. 😕

Would I go back? Only for the Tandoori Chicken and nothing else. Plus half a chicken for £14 in central London isn’t bad. Of course, you can get cheaper food if you’re willing to travel to Wembley, East London or Southal.

6. Watan, Southall: Opposite the McDonald’s in Southall. I’d recommend driving there if you can.

One of the best Pakistani meals I’ve had have got to be at a fairly new discovery, Watan.

I rarely go to Southall except when I was at Brunel and we could just drive there for a quick bite and re-live home cooked food.

However agreed it’s not the easiest place to get to. It’s always a stealth mission for me- eat and get out 🤣 or else I’ll get sucked into all the food on the main Street.

My friend and I end up there every now and then, I.e whenever the craving is unbearable 🤣

Their lamb Karahi and chappali kebabs are the 💣💣💣 if you’re feeling adventurous why not try the Maghaz aka Sheep brain 😬 it’s not to everyone’s taste but boy is it delicious!!

I think this is a decent roundup of all the Desi hideouts on my radar! Do try one of these and let me know how your experience was and what you ordered 🤤

Tillthe next one- peace out! ✌🏼


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