Gunpowder

Restaurants, Indian Spitalfields
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 4 out of 5 stars
(11user reviews)
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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.

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Gunpowder says
Gunpowder is a home-style Indian kitchen with a menu influenced by family recipes and designed to share. Dishes include Chettinad pulled duck, Maa's Kashmiri lamb chops and sigree grilled mustard broccoli.
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By: Dave Calhoun

Posted:

Venue name: Gunpowder
Contact:
Address: 11 Whites Row
London
E1 7NF
Transport: Tube: Aldgate East or Liverpool St
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Average User Rating

4.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:5
  • 4 star:4
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|11
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Sarah B
Tastemaker

I finally got to sample some of Gunpowder's short, rotating menu with a friend in the last week after a year or so of working nearby and never finding the chance. We arrived right as it opened and so didn't suffer the usual woes of the wait that I had heard can become quite long quite quickly (given that the restaurant is a real hole-in-the-wall with no adjoining bar I can fairly say that those forcibly waiting outside by the time we were leaving didn't look too impressed). It may be small but it's gained a bit of a cult status in the recent rise in demand for quality, authentic Indian cuisine that doesn't resemble the kind you'd find nearby on Brick Lane. 

Almost everything on the menu sounds appealing and so choosing was difficult! We opted for the Okra Fries, Aloo Chaat, Tandoori Paneer and 1/2 a chicken to share. More dishes were recommended but the plates are quite pricey given their portioning and we were quite full with four regardless. 

Flavours were bold and having a mix of textures and hot/cooler dishes really worked but I have to say that it fell a little flat. The Aloo Chaat wasn't in any way as sophisticated as I had hoped given it is their special and although the Okra Fries were moorish and well seasoned they were difficult to eat and went cold quite quickly. The chicken was exactly as I imagined it would be but nothing more and so the Paneer was really the stand-out dish from our choices. I simply expected more from a restaurant with so much buzz. While competition like Dishoom looms around the corner and provides much more of a package I think I'll stick to it instead.

Lekha N
tastemaker

Three of us went here for a Tuesday night meal – as its a small space we were asked to wait around the area and they texted us when our table was ready, which was great. The unpretentious (but instagrammeable) interior, lighting, and buzzy atmosphere gave it a really cosy feel, and the service was friendly and pretty quick. 


We each picked three dishes from the one-page menu and shared between the table – this was definitely more than enough food! Highlights included the aloo chaat, the tamarind pork ribs and Gunpowder's take on a chicken curry – all being immensely flavoursome. The chocolate mousse and banana curry leaf parfait was also a really nice take on a 'non-traditional' dessert. 


Overall – a great experience, with a refreshing, adventurous menu and delicious dishes. Definitely one of my new favourite Indian restaurants in London!


TIP: Go on payday with friends and try everything! 9 dishes and a bottle of wine between 3 of us cost about £34 each.

Bonnie W
Tastemaker

Gunpowder is a small and very popular Indian restaurant just around the corner from Spitalfields Market. I was meeting a friend for dinner on a Tuesday and couldn’t be seated until she had arrived. By 6:15 the whole restaurant was full. The service didn’t seem very welcoming and we had to wait quite awhile for some of the sharing plates. We ordered masala chai which turned out to just be a chai tea bag, which was kind of disappointing considering it was an Indian restaurant. The focus seemed to be more on cocktails. Aside from this though, the food was delicious and there were quite a few vegetarian options which I could have. The aloo chaat, aubergine and crispy kale salad and the grilled broccoli were full of flavour. We ordered about six or seven dishes to share and couldn’t quite finish everything. Despite the food being great, I felt that the service kind of let down Gunpowder.

Rose L

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

timothy w

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


Lizzie W
Tastemaker

Gunpowder is fairly new to the London Indian restaurant scene; located near Spitalfields Market with seating for only 20ish people, it is an intimate family run restaurant that differs to your usual Indian curry house (bucket curries and naan). It has a nice buzz; full of happy, content people enjoying their evening meal and has a simple yet stylish decor. Unfortunately Gunpowder doesn't take reservations and being so small it can make it tricky to get a table! When I visited, on a weekday at 7pm, there was a 45 minute wait for 2 people. I think the food is worth it so prepare for this and head to a bar once you've put your name on the waiting list. As with quite a few places they take your name and number and text you when your table is ready. We received our message dead on 45 minutes and by the time we got there our table was just about ready for us to sit down.

The menu consists of lots of small plates and a few larger more pricier dishes, all of which are fab for sharing (no naan or tikka masala in sight!). This means you get to try lots of their dishes which are all inspired by traditional Indian home-cooking and are all jam packed with flavour. For me, each dish was quite spicy so I downed a lot of water throughout the meal but everything was cooked and flavoured so well I just HAD to keep eating. Between the 2 of us we ordered 5 dishes; 3 small & 2 large (spicy venison and vermicelli doughnut - £4.5, porzhi okra fries - £4.5, chettinad pulled duck served with homemade oothappam - £5, saag with tandoori paneer - £11 and wild rabbit pulao - £14.5) which came out as and when they were ready. First up we got the venison doughnut which was delicious, then the okra fries. These were crispy, with a lovely spicy batter and were incredibly moorish however they neeeed to be served with a sauce or dip as they were very dry. The most disappointing dish was the pulled duck - this was the least flavourful, with a bland doughy bun with a small amount of duck inside. Finally we were served the large dishes - paneer and rabbit. Be warned the rabbit comes on the bone hidden within a massive pile of rice, fried onions and cranberries. You have to work a little too hard to get the meat and dispose of the bones but the whole dish was SO good it was worth it. The size of it is easily enough to share between 3! The paneer was by far my favourite dish, with 4 massive slices of paneer in a beautiful creamy, spinach curry. After allll that I couldn't have eaten another thing although tbh I don't think their desserts sounded nearly as intriguing as their mains - they were also quite heavy sounding which is something I didn't need any more of!

The staff throughout the whole meal were efficient (continuously topping up my water) but not overly friendly. When the bill was brought to us I was rather impressed with the cost vs the amount of food we had, although we didn't drink.

I would definitely recommend this if in the Shoreditch area and will be back to satisfy my next curry craving!

Claire F

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!

GT
Staff Writer

Tiny restaurant in Spitalfields run by a friendly couple who are wonderfully passionate about their food. The menu is made up of small plates - all inspired by Indian home cooking. The whole head of broccoli slathered in the most delicious spices will make you want to eat all your greens! And we were also served a fantastic chilli belilni cocktail - which increased in spiciness the longer you left it - delicious! It has a neighbourhood restaurant vibe so feels personal and friendly. Recommended!

CJ

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!