A home-style Indian restaurant in Spitalfields.
Indian food in London has long since moved on from the days of lager and poppadums in restaurants defined by velvet-lined chairs, a fish tank and a single After Eight for dessert. But it’s still hard to find a good place in the Brick Lane area, which is dominated by curry mile’s facsimile canteens. This tiny family-run restaurant, with a kitchen headed by Nirmal Save, once a chef at Mayfair’s Tamarind, aims to defy the strangehold of ‘bucket curries’ (as the owner calls them) on the neighbourhood and bring quality small-plates eating to Indian food. The place oozes passion without a hint of pretension and on the Friday night we visited it was positively buzzing.
The menu could compete at an open-mic event. Listen to the words: rasam ke bomb… chilli cheese toast… Chettinad pulled duck served with homemade oothappam. Gunpowder ditches stomach-bursting breads and creamy sauces in favour of strong flavours and a menu of about 20 dishes from across India. We start with rasam ke bomb – Gunpowder’s version of the dosa. They look like tiny Yorkshire puddings and come with a shot glass of a sauce with a kick. Next up, a spicy venison and vermicelli doughnut: unusual and exciting. Our crab main was unmemorable and there was a hint of blandness to a duck dish – but the chargilled tandoori chicken and Kashmiri lamb chops were both excellent. The veggie options, including a sweet and surprising sigree-grilled mustard broccoli, are star turns. And two days later I’m still thinking about the complex spiciness of the porzhi okra fries.
This space used to be a cheap-as-chickpeas curry house. All that’s left are the metal bowls that hang above heads as lampshades. The owner-manager Harneet Baweja is a force, adding a story to each dish: the delicious Maa’s Kashmiri lamp chops are his mother-in-law’s recipe; the molten spice chocolate cake with masala chai custard (don’t skip it!) is inspired by a guy in Mumbai who sells chocolate chai. Harneet darts around and, with our blessing, takes control of our order, adding footnotes and a personal tale to each dish. Come for the food; leave with a story.
11 Whites Row
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Average User Rating
4.5 / 5
- 5 star:10
- 4 star:6
- 3 star:1
- 2 star:0
- 1 star:0
Genuinely one of the most delicious meals I've had in a long time.
After months of passing by at incredibly busy times, I finally made time to go early afternoon and secured a table straightaway.
At the recommendation of the waiting staff, I ordered a few dishes of saag aloo, pork ribs and charred broccoli. Each pretty spicy but all with incredible flavours and each mouthful was delightful.
If you go in the evening, be prepared to wait about an hour for a table. Lunchtimes are best for walk-ins. The restaurant is small and neat so buggies are not easily catered for unless you sit snug next to the door as I did. Though the hassle was worth the culinary delights!
Whenever someone asks for a recommendation for a good Indian restaurant I always tell them to go to Gunpowder - a great little place - a bit tricky to get a table (no reservations), but you can book if you're in big enough group (I think 6 is the minimum but don't quote me on that!). The lamb chops are a must and I suggest you order them first because you will want to order some more! The chargrilled chicken was also a winner as was the rasam ke bomb and the broccoli - oh and the okra fries were surprisingly moreish. We had a fab night here - service was spot on and prices reasonable for the quality of food. I will be going again. Thumbs up from me!
If you are a fan of Dishoom you'll likely be a fan of this joint. Indian sharing plates are creative, bold and all totally delicious. Recommend the whole broccoli and aloo chat. A small intimate venue with a great buzz and passionate staff. Fairly priced too given the quality and quantity of the the plates
I recently took Japanese clients here for lunch. They were desperate for a 'traditional' Indian meal and even though Gunpowder doesn't serve Curries, Lassis, Indian breads the food is outstanding and my clients loved it.
Service was good and the food interesting and delicious. We had a 1200h table and by 1300h the restaurant was packed. The acoustics of the restaurant aren't great so the noise was a bit of an issue but that is my fault for planning a business lunch with overseas guests.
Standout dishes were the Rabbit Pulao, Venison Donut, Okra Fries and lamb chops. The soft-shelled crab was ok nice but would have been more at home on a Singaporean or Schezuan menu.
At £30 per head including drinks and service charge Gunpowder is pretty good value for money given the quality of the food. The venue is also cool in a stripped back style
Hands down the best Indian food I've had in London. Leaps and bounds above Dishoom and Tayyabs (if you could even compare them to each other). Rotating small plate menu featuring a really great selection of interesting vegetarian options, like the Okra fries, Saag Panner and Aloo Chat (all pictured below), plus half a dozen non-vegetarian options for all the meat eaters out there. I would imagine this place will start to get really busy as people hear about it (it just opened in January 2016). Can't wait to go back!
One of the meals in London I've enjoyed most for quite a while - small restaurant run by a lovely husband and wife team. None of the dishes are overly fussy or complicated, it's about flavours and great ingredients. My personal favourite was the pork belly with tamarind sauce, and the ridiculously tender lamb chops and the aloo chaat using their trademark Gunpowder spice mix (full of flavour rather than searingly hot) should also be recommended - although there was nothing I ate that I would not recommend. Excellent little place, go support them!
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