Gourmet Indian Food at Babur in South-East London

Monday 27th May 2024 |

London is a city of many faces. A city that’s constantly evolving and developing with what seems like endless areas to discover and explore. And of course, a fabulous array of restaurants to sample, sprinkled through the capital’s busy streets. South-East London is an area I haven’t spent much time in, so today we’re putting that right with a visit to Babur in Forest Hill in the London Borough of Lewisham.

This stylish Indian restaurant has been serving delightful gourmet Indian cuisine since 1985 and it’s something of a legend in this neck of the woods. From the moment you spot the life-size tiger on its roof, you know you’re in for something special – this is not your average high street curry house. The menu is packed with mouthwatering, intricate modern dishes taking inspiration from all over the Sub-continent.

We can’t wait to get started. Plump and juicy griddled scallops come on a bed of spiced pea puree with a red pepper reduction and roasted cumin. They’re sweet and spicy and that pea puree is the food dreams are made of. The Bihari kebab comprises the tenderest of char-grilled lamb strips with garam masala flavours and mint-chilli yogurt. As well as tasting superb, dishes are so beautifully presented we can’t help but exclaim with delight when they arrive.

There’s such an exotic array of starters we’ve had to ponder over and dismiss. Like swordfish tikka, dungar quail breast, goat shoulder tikka with cumin puffs and crab bonda dumplings. It’s a starter selection we could start at the top of and keep going until we’d tried every single one. Now there’s a tempting thought.

But it’s time to go on to mains. After much discussion, we choose the Kasundi king prawns, served with Bengali mustard spiced puffed rice and green papaya murabba. Large, perfectly marinated and grilled prawns arrive on a bed of heavenly spices with the murabba (which is a kind of sweet pickle, and delicious) on the side. A heavenly combination of flavours and textures.

Our second dish is the steamed shoulder of lamb served on beetroot rice with a lamb jus. The menu tells us it has been marinated for 100 hours in spice-rich Punjab masala, so we’re expecting great flavours and the softest of textures which is exactly what we get. Our. charming waiter convinces us to try some aloo gobi and garlic naan to complete our feast, so of course we do. The lightest of garlicky bread and a
wonderfully spicy cauliflower and potato concoction are a great accompaniment.

Other mains encompass a wide range of meaty dishes, including venison, mutton, duck, and rabbit or for fish lovers there’s stone bass and baby monkfish. As you’d expect there’s also a great vegetarian selection. And the wine list is carefully crafted to ensure the perfect match to the spices and flavours of every dish.

We’ve hardly scratched the surface of the incredible dishes being created with such love in the Babur kitchen. Every dish is served with a smile and such pride and you can feel (and taste) the chef’s passion for his food in every mouthful. This is a little corner of South-East London where magical dishes transport you instantly to more exotic lands. Wherever you go in this great city, London’s culinary scene never fails to astound.

Words by Sandy Cadiz-Smith

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