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Photograph: Shababs

The 9 best curries in the UK (and none of them are in London)

Give your tastebuds a tickle with one of the top curries in the country – all delicious and all worth travelling for

Chiara Wilkinson
Edited by
Chiara Wilkinson
Written by
Time Out contributors
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Pretty much every UK town has its own legendary curry house – and every local curry house has its own legendary curry. Whether you like to keep things simple with a creamy chicken korma or spice things up with a fiery vindaloo, it’s hard to argue that curry is probably one of the most crowd-pleasing dishes you can get. But what curries are actually worth the trek?

We reached out to Time Out contributors from all corners of the country to come up with this selection of the absolute best curry houses in the UK. From prawn baltis in Birmingham to vegan punjabi aubergine in Brighton, we’ve handpicked the tastiest must-try dishes. Oh, and the best part? None of them are in London. Not even one. 

RECOMMENDED: The best restaurants in the UK

Best curries in the UK

Birmingham

A testament to its superior cuisine and 35 years of service, Shababs usually has a queue out the door. There’s no better place to sample Birmingham’s proudest culinary invention: the balti, served piping hot in the same steel bowl it was cooked in. You can’t go wrong with the chicken classic, but Shababs also does a mean prawn version. Try it here, then treat yourself to an authentic balti bowl and cook it at home. Richard Franks

Bradford

Legend has it that Led Zeppelin named their iconic hit ‘Kashmir’ after a post-gig meal at The Kashmir in the 1970s. That may or may not be true, but one thing’s for certain: order their dizzyingly aromatic lamb bhindi gosht and you’ll have a meal fit for a rock star. Sure, the Kashmir’s curries (and its decor) may not have changed much over the decades, but they still pack a cheek-tingling punch. Alex Sims

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Edinburgh

You’ll be tempted to try Solti’s butter chicken with fenugreek or pani puri with pomegranate seeds (and so you should), but don’t overlook their aloo baingan. Melt-in-your mouth aubergine and potatoes slathered with a sweet-but-spicy gravy, it’s an underrated jewel that guarantees plate-licking. As a family-run Nepalese-slash-Indian in Edinburgh’s Old Town with a focus on street-food-style scran, the joint is fairly new to the city but has already cemented itself as a firm favourite. Chiara Wilkinson

Leeds

Bundobust’s twist on rajma, a bread-and-butter-type Indian staple, is anything but conventional. Creamy, soupy and with plenty of kidney beans and a rumbling, gingery heat, it’s served with a dollop of soft basmati to soak it all up. Pair it with Bundobust’s jostling vibe and any of its magnificent craft beers, and you’ll soon see why this street-food joint isn’t just a Leeds institution – it’s one that’s running wild in Manchester and Liverpool, too. Ed Cunningham

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Sheffield

Ashoka is Sheffield’s oldest Indian restaurant. Stylish but modest and warmly inviting, it’s been knocking out amazing curry since 1967. Don’t miss their taxi driver curry, named after a legendary cabbie customer who kept coming back for more. A garlicky chicken tikka with minced lamb and fresh green chillies, all served in a sizzling cast-iron karai, it’s a smoky knockout dish that will have you savouring every last morsel. Daniel Dylan Wray

Wrexham

Wrexham is busy shedding its post-industrial reputation, and city-centre restaurant Anise is at the forefront of a blossoming foodie scene that covers plenty of ground. The menu is packed with Indian and Bangladeshi classics, but the perfect sweetness of the Iranian-influenced chicken dopiaza helps it to stand out as the star dish. The slight tartness of the dish positively sings, harmonising with the stylish decor and service. Dismiss Wrexham at your peril. John Bills

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Brighton

The Chilli Pickle in Brighton is nothing short of iconic. While older residents remember it being an institution in The Lanes, its new airy site on Jubilee Square means it has space to cram in plenty of locals all hungry for its incredible range of curries. For us, it’s all about the punjabi aubergine: a delicious, creamy vegan delight replete with crushed peanut chaat. Joe Minihane

 

Newcastle

Simla’s clay-oven specials are excellent, but for something a little different, try their next-level goan fish curry which will leave a spicy tingle on your lips. The family curry house has been a staple in the city since 1981 but since undergoing a refurb, it now marries tradition with a modern elegance that’s reflected in both the menu and decor. The food’s not too shabby, either. Daniel Dylan Wray

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Manchester

Let’s face it, paneer can be a little on the dull side, and it’s never helped by its usual dreary description: spinach cooked with cottage cheese. But at the Indian Tiffin Room, the palak paneer is a vegetarian’s delight. A subtle mix of spices and textures, it’s fragrant, fresh and not too heavy – a must-order to make the most of this colourful, lively venue. Rob Martin

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