Best Indian Restaurants in London: Colonel Saab

So today, we’re heading into Covent Garden for a stunning Indian lunch at Colonel Saab. This fabulous restaurant is the brainchild of Roop Partap Choudhray and is inspired by his childhood journey spent moving across India with his parents, Colonel Manbeer and Mrs Binny Choudhray (Colonel Saab and Memsaab). It’s even named for his Dad.

The restaurant is located in the stylish former Holborn town hall on the edge of Covent Garden. The wow factor hit us as soon as we walked in. The walls are covered with plates, artwork, photographs and clocks, and enormous antique chandeliers hang down from the ceiling. Artwork collected by his parents during their decades of travelling around India to different army postings. There’s a lot to take in.

Even more so on opening the menu, which takes some reading. There’s such a story to be told and the most delectable descriptions to absorb. Luckily our charming waiter came to our aid with his suggestions and delivered a bowl of the most delicious poppadoms to our table while we waited for the rest of our Indian extravaganza to be delivered.

A selection of poppadoms in different shapes and sizes and with different flavours are served with two chutneys – tomato and pineapple. The best poppadoms every? Possibly…

July is special kebab month at Colonel Saab, so we sampled a selection. What a revelation – kebabs have never tasted so good. There’s a vegetarian and non-vegetarian platter; both served with my favourite chilli chutney.

Our non-vegetarian selection included venison solo boti – a recipe from Rajasthan; Murgh Rishmi Kebab – the softest of chicken marinated in yogurt, cream, cashew nuts and spices and grilled in the Tandoor; Tandoori roasted Tangri drumsticks and Zimikand Ki Shami – the juiciest of shish kebabs. I honestly can’t remember the last time I enjoyed such a perfectly spiced plate of food. Every mouthful is a wonder.

Even the vegetarian options. I swear I could become vegetarian if I lived in India – and that’s quite something coming from a dedicated carnivore. This is a genuinely exotic collection. Little delicately spiced cakes made with yogurt that are deep-fried, delicately spiced and soft and crunchy at the same time. I know; how do they do that? There was also beautifully spicy fruit chaat and paneer stuffed with dates and prunes and fried until crisp. And then, something I’ve never come across before – heavenly little spicy cakes made from…wait for it…elephant foot yam. This root vegetable grows in Africa and South Asia and is extremely difficult to cook with as it’s so hard. Completing this deliciousness takes so much time and effort, and you can taste the love in them. Miraculous cooking all round.

Our lovely waiter returned to talk us through the main course options, establishing our personal spice barometers before suggesting a dish each. Great to have such detailed and helpful service that made our experience even more enjoyable. Here’s the main course selection completed with the fluffiest rice, light buttery garlic naan and a little bowl of raita (I can never resist raita).

Terry tucked into the Sunday lamb curry – a home-style lamb curry infused with Indian spices that were truly sublime. Tender chunks of lamb that fell apart and the perfect silken sauce with the cleverest blend and balance of spices. Wow!

My prawn Moilee was also off the flavour charts. Sweet and juicy fresh prawns are cooked in a light kulcha, spiced coconut milk curry – the ultimate Keralan dish that transported me back to our dream holiday there a few years back.

And here’s the delicate naan up close.

Okay, that was the most satisfying collection of Indian dishes I’ve eaten in a very long time – and we eat a lot of Indian food.

We couldn’t leave before trying Colonel Saab’s bread and butter pudding, taking this classic British dish to new levels. The perfect end to the most exceptional lunch. And those kebabs…there’s still over a week left of July, plenty of time to sample Colonel Saab’s masterpieces. You know you want to.

The ornate and colourful dining room with its selection of vibrant plates and sparkling chandeliers.

The walls alongside the stairs, hung with artwork and photographs, tell the story of this fascinating Indian Odyssey, which is so beautifully reflected in the cuisine of Colonel Saab.

Today’s price point

Our veritable feast came to a total of £155 for the two of us.

Colonel Saab is at 193-197 High Holborn WC1, a minute’s walk from Holborn station.

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