Affordable Indian cooking in W1, one of a chain of seven.
The flagship of a small group of casual restaurants, Masala Zone provides homespun regional meals for office wallahs and aficionados of Indian food. It opened more than a decade ago and continues to hold its own with street food snacks and rustic staples, even though there’s now stiff competition in this area from the likes of Dishoom, Roti Chai and Delhi Grill.
Pan-Indian thalis are good value and usually contain a small bowl of dahl, a meaty or vegetarian curry, vegetable sides, relishes, and chapatis or rice. On our visit, we appreciated the simplicity of Punjabi-style spinach, fried with new potatoes and spiked with ginger and mild red chillies. More complex in nature, but no less earthy, Gujarati undiyo and lentil khichidi delivered a starchy, sweet-sour mash of purple yam, sweet potatoes and raw bananas, folded together with lentils, baby aubergine and wilted greens.
We’re not convinced by the authenticity of their latest addition to the menu, the Indian-inspired bunnychow from South Africa, which was little more then bland-tasting north Indian chickpea curry filled into a scooped-out bread roll. The menu could do with a refresh, and so could the interior, which now has plaster peeling away from the walls.