Authentic curries at school-dinner prices are the order of the day in this cut-price Indian dining hall.
On this site for 60 years, the Indian YMCA sees little need to change a formula that has successfully fed generations of Indian students newly-arrived in the UK. The concrete and glass post-war modernist building looks institutional but is an institution, though these days you are more likely to share your table with a bargain-hunting British office worker than an trainee doctor from the Punjab.
Queue canteen-style at the counter, while checking off the low prices on the pegboard menu above; ‘tin fruits 75p’ is typically succinct.
We recommend the freshly-prepared dishes: the curries (fish, mutton, veg, chicken) are all cooked home-style and sensitively spiced. The dahl is a comforting version, the turmeric-coloured toor dal giving body to the dish. Mounds of rice soak up the sauces; be warned that the pilau rice uses generous sprinklings of vivid food colourings.
Although most of the dishes are North Indian in style, a soothing South Indian breakfast snack of dahi wada is a lentil rissole swathed in a heavy, palliative yoghurt.
A sink for washing your hands afterwards is discreetly concealed behind a glass screen, not on public view in the Indian way. The Y’s better for lunch than dinner.