What do you do next if you’ve built two successful furniture businesses from scratch, and want a new challenge? Open an Indian restaurant. Or at least, that’s what Aamir Ahmad and his colleagues have done. Their background in fashionable interior design explains Zumbura’s good looks – but instead of the clean, modern lines of their Ocean and Dwell shops, the look includes South Asian influences. Saturated colours, Moghul-style bird prints on the ceiling, ornate tableware and beautifully styled brass lanterns adorn the long, rustic wooden bar.
The menu showcases the simple rural cooking of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh – the cuisine of Ahmad’s Purabi forebears. Ghugni is a dish of black chickpeas braised in an onion-rich vegetable sauce; it tasted like Indian home cooking, and we mean that as a compliment. Karela – bitter gourd cooked with lentils – was the best dish, attractively sour just as it should be. Portion sizes were meagre by Indian standards though, following the ‘small plates’ trend of London’s fashionable restaurants; £7.50 is quite steep for the three meagre beef patties of the chapli kebab.
The desserts were a highlight: rose kulfi frozen in a tall cone around a lollipop stick in the Indian way; or rawa (semolina) stirred with ghee studded with crushed pistachios, almonds and cardamom.
Penny-pinchers take note that Tooting is just three Tube stops away – where equally impressive cooking from the subcontinent can cost half the price. You won’t, however, find such attractive design or toothsome craft beers along Tooting’s curry mile.
Food is prepared daily in small quantities by head chef Raju Rawat, using his 15 years' experience in establishments like one of India's finest five star hotels, The Oberoi New Delhi, Michelin starred Benares in Mayfair, Cinnamon Club, Bombay Bicycle Club and Moolis. While preparing for his role at Zumbura, Raju spent weeks in our founder's mother's kitchen garnering all her homemade recipes and the secrets of traditional Purab cooking.
The interior of the restaurant, like the food, challenges preconceived notions of what Indian restaurants look like. Not surprising since our founders are the entrepreneurs behind Dwell, the contemporary furniture brand. Strong bold colours sit with exposed brick and copper lighting. The dining area is dominated by a 5m long piece of solid oak that forms both a working bar top and a much favoured place for diners to eat. The ceiling hosts beautiful handmade wallpaper featuring brightly decorative parrots.
We look forward to your visit.