London loves Indian food. There are almost 10,000 traditional curry houses in the UK and in London, Indian restaurants have the highest total Michelin star rating (six).
The game of Indian restaurants in London is therefore competitive.
But one place in South London won the crown – according to TripAdvisor.
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I went to the small family owned restaurant in Balham who made it to see if it deserves the top spot.
I took on the daunting task because after all My London readers you should know when spending your hard earned money that you are only getting the best Indian food the capital has to offer.
Indian Room, on Bedford Hill in Balham, received the prestigious honor after 1,286 people rated it “Excellent”.
It is number one for Indians in London and number two for restaurants in the capital.
Whenever I asked someone who lives nearby about this place, I got blank stares and shrugs.
What’s going on? How does this place fly so high while remaining so unnoticed?
When I entered I was greeted by a waiter, as well as the wonderful aroma of Indian spices.
I sat down at my table, recognized the comfy chair and cute mood lighting, and immediately flipped through the menu.
And let me tell you there are options. The amount of possible combinations and dishes was almost overwhelming. This is the kind of place where checking the menu before arrival is essential.
Characteristically playing it safe, I opted for Britain’s favorite dish; Tikka Masala (but I made it vegetarian). I added garlic naaan, rice, vegetable samosa, and Aloo Gobi – potatoes and cauliflower cooked in exotic spices.
Eager to curry favor with my roommates (see what I did there?), I invited one of them as well (I didn’t eat on my own).
She ordered a Paneer Makhani (homemade Indian cheese cooked in a special tomato sauce with toasted spices, butter and fenugreek)
In the meantime, a few obligatory poppadoms have been redeemed and I really enjoyed their crunchiness.
But before I know it, poppadoms have been relegated in favor of the explosion of delicious food that has appeared on my table.
I pulled back and immediately knew this place was all about business. The star of the show was the Aloo Gobi (spicy potatoes and cauliflower). It was a hybrid between sweet and spicy that my taste buds weren’t sure what to do with.
Much to my delight, the waiter informed me that virtually any dish can be tailored to your level of spice. A fact that I discovered after my meal, however.
My only qualms were that it was a bit spicy for my undeveloped taste buds – but I think I just need to manage.
Also very solid vegetarian options for all vegetables.
And the price was not unreasonable, for the quality and level of service.
A breakdown of my meal:
Tikka Masalda – £ 10.98
Aloo Gobi – £ 5.25
Paneer Makhani – £ 7.50
Bottle of Rose – £ 20
Rice (x2) – £ 3.75 each
A grand total of £ 51.23
The waiters insisted that I stay for dessert, but I just couldn’t fit in my stomach anymore. And I left with the feeling that I was going to give birth to twins (in the best possible way).
I spoke to the owner of Indian Room. Abdul Mubin (known as Mubin), 39, who started the family business 22 years ago about what makes their food better than any other.
He said, “Our curries are different. Normally restaurants use ghee (like butter) to make it tasty, but it’s not healthy. The next morning you might have stomach cramps.
“We thought” you know what? We want tasty but healthy food. ”Without the ghee, it makes it harder and more effort for the chef. But it’s worth it.
“We use our own locally grown spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves. Everything is done in the restaurant.
“We don’t use artificial colors, we get the color of beets.
“It makes our food different from other restaurants. That’s all I can say because the rest is a secret. “
Like all restaurants, Indian Room, has been closed for over a year due to Covid. Mubin says he also faces supply shortages and challenges employing enough staff to stay open.
But Mubin said he was overwhelmed by how the South London community has come together to support them.
Mubin added, “Our customers have supported us by getting take out. Some people even paid for prepaid vouchers. We were inundated with messages asking how they could help us. made very emotional at the time.
“These are the loyal customers who leave us great reviews and to whom we owe our success.”
You can visit the Indian Room website here.