Home to many establishments from the Indian subcontinent, the Tooting ‘curry corridor’ is a real cultural hot spot. It may not be as well-known as Shoreditch’s Brick Lane, but don’t be fooled. You’ll find an unrivalled cluster of Indian, Pakistani and Sri Lankan restaurants alongside vibrant saree stores, exotic veg stalls, sparkly jewellers and incense-filled bazaars. In fact, there are so many choices it can be hard to know where to pick. Well worry not. Just follow our guide to the best curry in Tooting for a lip-smacking selection of authentic curry houses.
Dosa n Chutny
Rocking a no-frills canteen aesthetic, complete with mirrored walls, bright yellow spotlights and immovable tables, Dosa n Chutny serves some of the best curry in Tooting, proving that you can’t judge an Indian restaurant by its cover. Start with £4.50 curried potato masala dosa, served with three chutneys and coconut sambar. Add a portion of £2.95 idly (white rice and lentil patties resembling UFO discs), a rich and smoky £6.95 palak paneer (spinach and paneer curry) and a fiery, fragrant £7.95 lamb bhuna ghost. Then a refreshing watermelon water, tropical mango lassi or cold lager is all you need to complete this delectable feast.
With its framed pictures, soft lighting, sprouting houseplants, white tablecloths and wine menu, Vijaya Krishna is an outlier on this list in that it has the ambiance of a typical restaurant. Much of the best curry in Tooting is served in curry houses with a more rudimentary charm. While the atmosphere lends itself well to intimate occasions, it’s the bold flavours of the food that make Vijaya Krishna a must-visit. The basic-sounding £4.90 Keralan tomato curry is a masterpiece of juicy, exquisitely spiced southern Indian gravy. Adding meat or vegetables to this dish would only detract from this celebration of tomato. Enjoy with a £2.90 garlic paratha, a £6.50 vegetable biryani and a tangy £8.90 Cochin king prawn curry.
Specialising in Sri Lankan and southern Indian cuisine, Jaffna House has been filling Tooting stomachs with joy for almost 30 years. In addition to their wonderful £7.00 vegetarian set lunch, which includes rice, poppadum and six curries, outstanding value can be found in the starters. These include masala vadai (spice chickpea donuts) for £0.60, string hoppers (rice flour noodles) for £2.50 and mutton kottu (fried pieces of roti flatbread with spices, vegetables, egg and lamb) for £4.50. New to Sri Lankan and southern Indian cuisine? Don’t be put off by items on the menu that you’ve never heard of. In fact, we recommend you make special effort to try as many new things as your stomach can handle.
Mirch Masala is a brilliant bring your own booze spot, serving great value Pakistani cuisine. A favourite of London Mayor Sadiq Khan, this relaxed eatery prepares scrumptious sauces in karahi cast-iron pots over an open grill. Karahi methi egg curry is a mildly spiced steal at £5.00. Meanwhile, fiery chilli paneer comes in at just £3.50. Combined with a bottle or two of IPA from the grocery store across the road, there are few places in London where you can enjoy a tasty feast as cheaply as this.
Apollo Banana Leaf
Apollo Banana Leaf conjures exotic white sand and tropical palm tree vibes… Not through its décor, mind. It’s the £9.50 king prawn curry smothered in zingy spiced coconut sauce that’ll transport your taste buds to a beautiful palm-fringed beach. They serve the full range of traditional Sri Lankan dishes. So you can enjoy everything from £5.50 masala dosa (spiced pancakes) and £6.95 egg kottu, to £1.20 fish cutlet and £8.50 seafood string hopppers.
Lahore Karahi is a Pakistani restaurant specialising in grilled meat. This is the place to come with a group of friends for a couple of beers (it’s bring your own) and a platter of succulent lamb, chicken and beef skewers. The meat is smothered in yoghurt and spices and then grilled over a flame. There’s no mood lighting, space is at a premium and there’s often football on the telly. So it’s not exactly a romantic dinner destination. But it does serve fiery, juicy meat dishes. Perfection with a can of store-bought lager and a crunchy-yet-fluffy naan straight out of the tandoor.
Open until 4 am over the weekend (2 am on weeknights), this late-night curry stop serves a wide selection of dishes at very affordable prices. We’re talking post-pub chicken jalfrezi with rice, naan bread can of coke for less than £10.00. The most popular dishes are made in batches and re-heated in the microwave. That said, others are made fresh before your eyes. Safe to say it’s not the most refined curry offering on our list. But at this time of night it can often be the most satisfying.
Daily Fresh Naan
As the name suggests, the staff at Daily Fresh Naan spend their days baking batch upon batch of fresh naan bread. Delicious, fresh naan filled with paneer, chicken or saag (spinach). And all for less than £2.00. This spot is perfect for a cheapo about town in need of some lunch on the go.
More Curry in London
If you’re more central check out our guide to the best curry in Soho & Covent Garden, for some top-value spice.