Best Indian-inspired Food in Leeds
Modern and Innovative...
Bundobust is a hub for Indian street food, predominantly inspired by the co-founder Mayur’s family ties to the Gujarat area of India, but with inspiration coming from farther afield too. This is their first site, although this Leeds success story means they now have Bundo branches in Manchester and Liverpool, too.
Bundobust serves up unusual craft beers to partner really well with their dishes, as well as great wines and soft drinks. The food, served up in compostable paper pots, is street food size - the idea is you have two or so, or share lots with friends. It’s the perfect spot for a whole meal of different tastes, as well as to get a little nibble to accompany a pint of something nice. All the food happens to be veggie (or vegan even) - but even the most hardened carnivore won’t miss meat from this outstanding menu.
Some of the most popular dishes include the Vada Pav (a deep-fried, spiced ball of bashed potato on a brioche bun with chutneys), Bundo Chaat (a cold dish of crispy samosa pastry, chickpeas, potato, onion, sev and chilli sauce, served with tamarind chutney and yoghurt) and their infamous Okra Fries (okra fried on crisp chickpea batter and dusted with black salt and mango powder).
Since opening Bundobust have consistently been Michelin recommended, have featured in Time Out’s top 10 Indian Restaurants and been included in The Sunday Times’ Top 25 Vegetarian Restaurants, amongst plenty of other accolades.
Award-winning traditional Keralan restaurant Tharavadu won the Best Indian category of the Oliver Awards through 2015, 2016 and 2017 and has been Michelin Recommended every year from 2016 to 2020, as well as a host of other awards and accolades. Despite this their amazing Express Lunch (a Thali of several different pots of curry, rice and chutney, accompanied by their paper-thin masala dosa pancake) still comes in at under £10 (£6.95 for veggie, £7.95 chicken, or £8.45 lamb).
Staffed predominantly by Keralans, “Tharavadu” is based on a Malayalam word which summons the idea of the ancestral home, and they unite the concept of family and tradition together at Tharavadu to make for an exceptionally welcoming (as well as tasty) restaurant. Plenty of South Indian favourites feature on the menu, from Idli to Vada to Masala Dosa, but there are plenty of more traditional “curries” too. The menu serves up plenty to satisfy meat eaters and veggies alike.
De Baga is a new Goan-inspired restaurant up in Headingley, which is swimming in positive reviews though it has only been open a few short months.
Again working that perfect combination of traditional flavours with more unusual tastes (this is no traditional Cobra-fuelled curry house), De Baga serves up amazing dishes like Sev Puri (gob-stopper sized balls of fragile poppadom-filled with a spiced potato and chutney filling), butter- and coconut-laced seafood Konkani curry, and Sambal-coated deep-fried softshell crab, as well as plenty of warm and hearty curry dishes and naans.
Grab one of their custom-brewed craft IPAs or pick from their range of exciting cocktails. Overall enjoy De Baga’s warm welcome into the tastes of Goan cuisine.
Manjit’s Kitchen are housed in a permanent stall cafe in the Food Hall at Kirkgate Market. Manjit’s is well-loved around Leeds, and were finalists in the Best Streetfood/Takeaway category of the BBC Food & Farming Awards 2018.
Fusing Punjabi tradition with street food inspiration taken from across India, Manjit’s is the place to pick up some Indian-inspired lunch on the go. It is also a bit of a community institution. Predominantly staffed by three women - Manpreet Kaur, Manjit Kaur and Sandeep Kaur, Manjit has shifted the (usually male) face of the Indian food industry. Manjit grew up in a Sikh family in North Leeds, and has always been passionate about food and cookery.
She also has a reputation for her charity. In 2017 a homeless lady asked Manjit for a cup of hot water - and then threw it in her face. Understandably shaken by the event, Manjit managed to realise that this agitated and mentally ill lady was just having a very bad day - and had taken Manjit along for the ride. Instead of shutting down, Manjit decided to raise money for Leeds homeless charity Simon on the Streets, and with the help of other Leeds independent businesses, managed to raise just under £6000 in 3 months.
And the food? Manjit’s serves up incredible thalis to eat in or takeaway (in their biodegradable containers), which include cumin rice, pickles, salad, chutney and roti alongside either 2 (£4.95) or 3 (£5.95) curries. Alternatively, try their mouth-watering chilli paneer wrap (thin-rolled naan filled with marinated paneer, as well as a carrot salad, tamarind, red onion, raita, pickles and coriander - £6), their pakora wrap, or masala dosa.
The traditional curry house has a firm place in the hearts of the people of Leeds (as it does across the whole of the UK), and Leeds has plenty of more traditional establishments for you to frequent when you’re in need of a spicy curry, some fluffy naan and a refreshing lager.
With branches across the North now, Akbar’s have a tried and tested recipe for success, and they stick to it across their locations. Find Akbar’s Leeds on Eastgate, just off the Headrow, and sit down ready for prompt service. Akbar’s are famous for their family-size naans, which will be delivered to your table on a high hook, and provide bread enough to happily satisfy a very large family! Old School favourites like Dopiaza and Dansak are readily available, alongside more unusual dishes like the Lamb Nihari (mouthwatering curried lamb shank falling off the bone) and regional delicacy Ojri, a slow-cooked, spiced tripe dish.Address:15 Eastgate, Leeds LS2 7LY
The spacious and stylish interior is a great place to settle down and enjoy all your favourites, with a few unusual additions too. Marinated Chicken Liver Tikka is an unusual and innovative starter, but pakoras, lamb chops and bhajis are all present and correct too. Choose your meat to add to the House Specialities (from classic Jalfrezi to Sylheti - a speciality from the Bengal province of Sylhet), choose tandoori options from the classic clay oven, and complement them all with plenty of vegetarian options and classic sides. With a menu which firmly marks out ‘mild’ options for those who like a little less chilli, and even offers a ‘healthy’ section (dishes are cooked without added oils or fats), everybody will be happily catered for.Address:5 Merrion Way, Leeds LS2 8BT
This Indian chain with Kashmiri roots also has locations across the North, and is now the largest chain of Kashmiri restaurants in the UK! Plenty of ‘platter’ options take the difficulties out of ordering starters, though there are plenty of classics available here - think bhajis, pakoras, samosas and paneer tikka - as well as unusual options like tikka monkfish. Moving on to main courses, opt from curries like Jalfrezi, Hyderabadi, Gosht or Karahi sauces, or choose from the tandoori menu of grilled options like marinated chops, king prawns, tandoori chicken, or Shahi mushrooms - amongst many others. Sides, vegetable options and sundries are all readily available too.Address:St Peter's Square, Quarry Hill, Leeds LS9 8AH
Based on Bishopgate Street, Shabab has been serving Leeds curry since 1973. Decorated with colourful lights adorning the ceiling and plenty of ornaments, Shabab is a large scale local gem. Again you’ll find all your favourites on the menu here, from bhajis, samosas, paani puri and shashlik kebabs to more unusual options like Jhinga Kabir (large spiced king prawns in garlic or masala) and Lahori Machee (spice-fried fillets of cod with citrus flavours and a sweet chutney). For mains, you’ll find plenty of Karahi specialities, Biryanis and a ‘popular curries’ section, as well as an ‘exotic recommendations’ section and a mild selection. All of them have options you’ll know (from Rogan Josh to Chicken Biryani) alongside maybe a few dishes you won’t have heard of (like Dhunwan Dahi, smoked diced and minced lamb cooked in ghee, spices, yoghurt and mint).Address:1 Bishopgate St, Leeds LS1 5DY