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.
36a Old Town
|Opening hours:||Mon – Wed 6pm – 10pm, Thurs – Sat 6pm – 10.30pm, Sun 6pm – 10pm|
|Transport:||Clapham Common tube|
|Price:||Meal for two with drinks and service: around £65|
|Do you own this business?|
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Average User Rating
4.9 / 5
- 5 star:9
- 4 star:1
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A bit pricey but delicious and always busy Indian that thankfully moves away from the sprawling gloopy lumps of 'curry' that forgets about presentation: this is taste and prettiness in every dish. The homemade breads, poppadoms and chutneys are a far cry away - in the right direction - from the soggy naans and lukewarm yoghurt and mint sauces most curry houses provide. This is a perfectly formed lamb chop with exquisite spices, served with delicate flavours and breads - smaller portions means you can mix and match - meat balls, kebabs, salmon, with tasty cocktails and a lovely vibe...
Great Indian! Who'd have guessed? Had a (good) coffee here a few days earlier without realising... Nice location too.
If you are looking for a quick chicken tikka massala, you will be dissapointed. And that is a good thing! I don't have anything against typical Indian restaurant fare when done well, but this is truly special. Check out this gem and discover how much more there is to Indian cuisine than the ubiquitous supercharged balti! As others have said: decor, staff, atmosphere, and of course food, are all exceptional. If that wasn't enough, the cocktails are sublime and I have never tasted a better pistachio ice cream. Which is saying something coming from someone with Italian blood!
This is the tastiest Indian food I've EVER had!! Not only is the staff super nice and welcoming, the decor is also stunning (my fave is the big slap of wood AKA the bar). The dishes are for sharing and so we did whilst working our way through (almost) the whole menu. From succulent lamb to tasty curry fish, black chickpeas and divine chicken there's something for everyone's taste. And to the drinks; the cocktails taste and look fabulous and the wine and beer selection is very well edited. All together we were very impressed and shall come back again and again and again.....
We visited this restaurant during its opening week and were very impressed with the entire experience. The staff were warm and welcoming and really knowledgeable about the menu. The food is very different from anywhere I have been before - they specialise in home-style cooking from Northern India and every dish we tried (you can try loads as they are meant for sharing) was interesting and delicious. They do great cocktails all of which are unique to Zumbura (apparently the barman comes from Sketch). Buzzy, laid-back atmosphere in really cool surroundings. Really glad they choose Clapham to open as its just what we needed. Cant wait to go back
I've been to Zumbura several times now, and every time I go the flavours get better and better - this is so much better than any other Indian I've had in the UK. It's fresh, every dish is made on the premises every day by a seriously good chef (has cooked at the Cinnamon Club apparently and it shows), and it's an adventure through northern Indian food that just isn't available at any other restaurant in the area. Plus it feels light and dare i say it healthy, so although you feel like you've had the most incredible treat, you don't feel stuffed or full of ghee. Love the cocktail menu, very easy to have one or three of these first, and - finally! - some Indian desserts that are superb, even when they're made out of carrots!! Really well done, great atmosphere, wish I lived closer!
We are Clapham locals and have been to Zumbura on many occasions since it launched, including New Year's Eve. We think it is a really good addition to the restaurant scene in Clapham which is a bit hit and miss. The venue is great, nice and modern and airy yet cozy in the winter. It feels like it has a real buzz. The food is extremely good - not your traditional Indian food which is prevalent all over London. The sharing concept works especially well with this cuisine. The food is also cooked in a much healthier way than many traditional Indian restaurants. The staff are nice and friendly and the owners are often in there which I think is a great touch for a local restaurant. Finally, Zumbura has a huge bar which is great just for drinks but also for eating. This adds to the overall experience and it a great place to go for a drink. The crowd is refreshingly mixed as well. Overall we would rate this as the best restaurant in Clapham and one of best restaurants in London. Try it for yourself!
For the sake of transparency: Aamir and David, the owners, are friends of ours. So we were looking forward to seeing how their fantastic taste & vision would translate into a restaurant; but slightly concerned in case the food wasn't as great as the aesthetic (always awkward to tell a friend the truth about their cooking!) And as you say this is a new direction for the entrepreneurs.
Any worries seemed ridiculous when the first dishes arrived- all beautifully presented, but more importantly, the plates may not be big but that's a good thing: each dish is a treasure trove of flavours and you will want to try as many as possible. Or just have a light meal and enjoy the incredible cocktails. I'm in recovery and the bespoke mocktails they concocted for me were some of the best I've had anywhere in the world; my wife says the alcohol infused ones are delicious too.
It's not fair to compare their pricing with lesser restaurants because everything in this restaurant has been carefully chosen and is beautiful; even the toilet paper holders are nice to look at.
All the food is made from the highest quality ingredients, sourced locally & ethically as far as possible, and cooked lovingly.
Aamir got most of the recipes from his mum and this food is very special- it gives you a taste of what Indian home-cooked food is really like.