England, Europe and Middle East, London, Newsletter, Restaurant Reviews, United Kingdom

Return visit to Babur. South London’s neighbourhood Indian just gets better.

21/03/2024 by .
return visit to babur

Andy Mossack makes a return visit to Babur, Forest Gate’s hidden gem of an Indian Restaurant.

It was the eve of Holi, the Hindu Festival of Colours, and almost twelve months to the day when I first reviewed Babur, an Indian restaurant that has been a staple for Forest Hill locals for over 38 years. My return visit to Babur was heralded by the news they had partnered with MasterChef UK 2023 finalist Anurag Aggarwal to create a rainbow-hued Holi tasting menu for this year’s Holi season.

Andy Mossack makes a return visit to Babur, Forest Gate’s hidden gem of an Indian Restaurant.

Sadly, for me, I was a week early for the start of the season, so instead of rainbow-hued dishes I had to make do with standard Babur fare, which turned out to be every bit as tasty as I remembered.

For a neighbourhood restaurant tucked away in leafy Brockley Rise SE23, Babur not only has a fine dining presence about it but could hold its own against more illustrious Indian neighbours in central London. Perhaps even Mayfair. I know for a fact, Babur’s long time Executive Chef Jiwan Lal has designs on a future Michelin star. Time will tell.

In the meantime, we all enjoy the fruits of his labours at far-below Mayfair prices.

return to babur

First up was another of Barbur’s offerings that make it so memorable: an impressive list of wines and cocktails that perfectly pair with curries. Not something you usually find in your local curry house. So, a couple of cocktails to get us started. An Old Fashioned Old Monk (£11.25) for me:  7 year old Old Monk dark rum, clove bitters, banana liquor, caramel and orange oil. Which I got to pour over big chunks of ice. Delicious.

My dining partner went the whisky route with Charcoal Sour (£11.95): an exotic curation of Johnny Walker Black Label, charcoal bitters, almond syrup, pine oil, sour mix and egg white. Raised eyebrows and a grin on the smokey charcoal finish. Both went down very well with our mixed papadums, chutneys and aloo chat amuse bouchées.

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Although there is a five-course tasting menu (£48.95) we decided to go on a culinary adventure exploring the a la carte. Lots of options here including a blue crab bonda (£9.95), clove-smoked lamb chops (£12.95) or how about a beetroot cutlet with a spicy mango chutney (£8.50)?

In the end we chose a swordfish tikka with red onion and radish pickle (£9.50) and tulsi malai chicken tikka (£9.50). The meaty chopped swordfish steak was cooked in tandoori spices and brought a super smokey aroma, while the delightfully moist chicken tikka came with a knockout basil and yoghurt sauce.

The adventure continued as we explored the mains. All manner of exotic and unusual choices here. From Punjabi stone bass (£20.95) and baby monkfish tail caldeen (£22.50) to steamed shoulder of lamb (marinated for 100 hours £21.75) and even a slow cooked venison hunter curry (£22.25).

After much debate my dining companion decided on garam masala duck (£20.75) a full sliced duck breast perfectly cooked medium rare, on a bed of spicy rainbow quinoa with a tangy orange jus. Babur’s Indian take on duck a’l’orange and something of a rarity in most Indian restaurants I would wager.

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My chicken chettinad (£19.50) was a Babur signature dish from southern India. A Chettiyar black pepper masala encased in a giant conical crispy rice pancake.  Utterly delicious.

A couple of excellent sides completed the symphony.  Baghare baigan |(£7.95) baby aubergine in a delicate peanut sauce, and aloo gobi (£5.95) roasted collie with baby potato.

My return visit to Babur invoked another memorable meal from a restaurant fully deserving of its local institutional status. A claim backed up by a busy night of patrons even though it was a Monday. With a such a loyal clientele and now, the collaboration of MasterChef UK 2023 finalist Anurag Aggarwal, perhaps that Michelin star might not be too far away.

Happy Holi Babur!

Tell me more about Babur Indian Restaurant

Babur, 119 Brockley Rise, Forest Hill, London SE23 1JP

T: 020 8291 2400 E: mail@babur.info

Tasting Menu

Four course £43.95 with matching wine £69.95

Five course £48.95 with matching wine £80.95

Vegetarian Tasting Menu

Four course £39.95 with matching wine £67.00

Five course £44.95 with matching wine £77.00


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