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Salma Haidrani on Pakistani London
Scott Chasserot

Kebabs, kulfi and drone-inspired art: it’s the best of Pakistani London

Written by
Salma Haidrani

Last year, in a divisive mayoral election, Londoners overwhelmingly voted for the son of a Pakistani bus driver to govern the city. It’s a sign of how far we’ve come since post-war immigration fuelled the rise of the National Front. Back then many newly arrived Pakistanis did blue-collar jobs such as driving taxis, but a sizeable number started their own businesses, and places such as Southall and Waltham Forest – home to London’s most thriving Pakistani communities, with their own grocery stores and halal butchers – are testament to that entrepreneurial spirit.

We might have an unfair reputation for being poorly integrated, but through the UK’s curry culture we’ve cemented our place in London life. And as second and third-generation immigrants such as Riz Ahmed, Amir Khan, Zayn Malik and Sadiq himself have proved, there’s much more to Pakistani Brits than newsagents and hangover food. Salma Haidrani

Did you know? Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who led Pakistan’s independence from India, lived on Russell Road in Kensington. While he was here he was called to the bar at the tender age of 19.

Salma’s favourite Pakistani spots in London

Pakistani-born artist Mahwish Chishty has her first UK show at the Imperial War Museum until March. Her drone-inspired art series fuses the country’s artistic heritage with contemporary politics.

Look past the minimal decor – Raavi Kebab in Euston offers some of the best seekh kebabs and chicken tikka in the capital. It’s a firm favourite with people wanting a taste of home – my dad’s been going there for 25 years.

Tayyabs in Whitechapel gets all the BYO glory, but Needoo Grill round the corner has shorter queues and even better karahi gosht. Their veg offering is pretty good too.

Cool down with a mango lassi and a kulfi (ice cream) at Original Lahore in St John’s Wood.

The British Pakistan Foundation hosts cultural and networking events for British Pakistanis.

The best of Pakistani London, according to you


A photo posted by Brad Rickman (@bradrick) on

Tayyabs restaurant in Whitechapel: a must-visit place.’ 
Rehman K via Facebook

‘Royal Nawaab in Perivale. Pakistani food is yummish.’ Taiba K via Facebook

Lahore Kebab House in Whitechapel: the next best thing after my mum’s cooking.’ Jvaria S via Facebook

Bundu Khan in Whitechapel, Shinwari in Ilford and Holborn Community Cooks: a Pakistani social enterprise.’ Saira F via Facebook

‘There’s a hole-in-a-wall kinda restaurant in Ilford named Nagina that does the best halwa puri in town.’ Javeria K via

Now discover the best of Dutch London.

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