The most authentic Indian food in London?


You could easily miss Drummond Street. Just west of Euston Station in central London, this is an unassuming stretch of townhouses, basement apartments, restaurants and shops within easy reach of walk in a few minutes.

But take a closer look, and almost all of the restaurants and shops are South Asian. Menus include South India Masala dose (spicy pancakes), Mumbai street food and Lahori lamb skewers; store windows showcase South Asian sweets and savory snacks; and there are enough spices, pulses, pickles, pasta and flour to prepare an Indian wedding.

Growing up in 1980s London, my family came here in search of what the suburbs still had to offer. Now, over 30 years later and sitting at Diwana Bhel Poori House, arguably the UK’s oldest South Indian vegetarian restaurant and a Drummond Street favorite since 1971, it feels like few things have changed, from the paneled interior to the paintings on the wall. The food is always delicious – its chef for 30 years became the owner a decade ago and also runs Chutney’s restaurant, also on Drummond Street.

South Asians have lived in London since the mid-17th century, when the ships of the Colonial East India Company docked in the capital. However, most came in the middle of the 20th century; many from post-Partition India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to help rebuild post-war Britain, work in the National Health Service or as diaspora students. The 60s and 70s saw the arrival of Asians from East Africa, mainly from Punjab or Gujarati, like my family, exiled or leaving the former British colonies of Kenya and Uganda. In a time of upheaval, change and the occasional racism, Drummond Street was a taste of London’s vibrant South Asian community, thanks to a small but growing presence of family-owned cafes and shops.

However, despite decades of commerce, Drummond Street goes unnoticed. This small street between Regents Park and the British Library is closer to a train station than a major attraction and overshadowed by its more famous counterpart, Brick Lane near Liverpool Street in the east of the city. There, a much larger number of Bangladeshi restaurants flourished from the 1980s, and its more well-known “Banglatown” label is a nod to its community of longtime residents. But while Brick Lane has become all the rage, as clubs, shops and bars, including those at the ever-expanding Truman Brewery, have drawn Londoners and tourists alike, Drummond Street, despite its central location, is more or less stayed as it was – that’s why so many people come back to it.


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