Extending the boundaries of Indian cooking since 1985, Babur’s contemporary approach is bolstered by a classy modern look featuring striking artworks and funky lighting. The cooking delivers a bracing canter through some original ideas, backed by spice-friendly wine recommendations for each dish.
What would happen if the life-sized model of a tiger ever left the roof of Babur? Sounds like a ravens in the Tower of London scenario but, after nearly 35 years, neither tiger nor restaurant are going anywhere. The dining room, an unpretentious space with exposed brick walls and vibrant Indian artworks, is watched over by a charming team, while the menu delivers diverse dishes that avoid the average curry-house clichés. No wonder that for many loyal fan it’s ‘a local institution’. Openers such as griddled scallops with spiced pea purée, Gurkhali ostrich tikka, and beetroot ‘cutlet’ with a crispy tapioca coating, and mains such as kasundi king prawns, rabbit soweta, and Lucknowi chicken biryani, continue to impress with vivid spicing and sound thinking. To finish, cumin chocolate fondant with salted caramel gelato is fusion heaven. The wine list, opening at £24.95, is a carefully considered edit of spice-friendly bottles, though the house cocktails are well worth a try too.
Good looks and innovative cooking make this passionately run and long-established Indian restaurant stand out. Influences from the south and north west feature most and seafood is a highlight look out for the ‘Treasures of the Sea’ menu.
“A marvel in a suburban desert” – this Forest Hill “jewel” takes “South London Indian cuisine to a new level and puts it equal with the best in the West End and City”. “The cooking is refined and inventive, beautifully spices and seasoned, and looks as good as it tastes, while service is amiable rather than expert and the decor rather smart”. “I’ve been going there for over 20 years and it remains relevant and delicious with a constantly evolving menu and drinks list”. “If you live anywhere remotely within striking distance, you have to try it out!”.
Brockley's local Indian Babur restaurant is a far cry from the neon signed ones that grace most neighbourhoods in London. This is a place for the sophisticated eater and drinker. I have rarely seen such attention to detail in a local neighbourhood restaurant. Babur is most definitely one of the best Indian dinners and I have had.
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Babur is not just any old Indian restaurant - it is unique, exciting and fresh... most definitely somewhere you would want to go for 'a nice meal out' rather than just 'a curry'. From the tiger on the roof - which is something I loved straight away and is about as chinzty as Babur gets.
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Innovative, sophisticated, modern: sycophantic descriptions usually reserved for the worlds of engineering, architecture, and the arts. If innovative, sophisticated and modern all went for counselling, then Babur would be their counsellor, without ever being remotely connected to Norman Foster, Damien Hirst or Isambard Kingdom Brunel. And that’s because Babur is simply a restaurant.....from the planet Totally Bloody Brilliant! Now how’s that for sycophantic? Any restaurant that has two enormous flags and a great big Bengal tiger stationed outside its entrance must be worth keeping an eye on. If you haven’t been there already, prepare your jealously cortex now. You will love this restaurant more than your own skin.
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Food and drinks worth crossing the river for. It could be all the liquor clouding judgement, but I’m more inclined to think it’s about the clear skill in the kitchen and behind the bar. Food and drinks alike at Babur are fragrant, fresh, and clean; the refinement allowing you savour each and every flavour, both on the plate and in the glass. By now, we’re both ready for another round, this time from the House Specials – Mango Mary for me, Currytini for the chap.
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People don't come here and ask for curry house dishes - instead they enjoy the wonderful offerings of the highly talented chef and his team,' explains Peter. 'The restaurant only has 74 covers and is very popular so booking is advised. It must be the leading restaurant in the UK for its specialist festivals and events, which range from Burns Night and its Nepalese haggis to fantastic regional Indian cuisine events.
Long before Brockley Market took hold, this 29-year-old Indian was the foodie face of the neighbourhood. Creative dishes such as clove-smoked lamb chops and tamarind-glazed quail are signatures, while the kitchen’s careful sourcing and delicate cooking of high-quality meat, fish and game really sets it apart. Big flavours come together rather than overpower each other, and suggested wine and beer pairings are given for each dish to ensure drinks do the same. A contemporary light and airy setting complete with modern art also bucks the curry house trend.
To be honest, I would have gone through hell and high water to go for a tasting at Babur. Their food is constantly delicious and full of surprises, so I would have cleared my diary, come what may. I can't tell you specifically about their new summer tasting menu, since it hasn't been announced yet.
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From the moment we sat down we were salivating at the food the table next to us had ordered. But choosing what to have from the mouthwatering menu was a bit of a tall order. While we were trying to work out what to eat we decided to have a cocktail from the drinks menu, which sounded just as interesting.
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The Outstanding Restaurant of the Year was, once again, Emdad Rahman's Babur in London SE23 which was the only restaurant to receive 100% in the voting from the thirteen judges for the second consecutive year - an amazing achievement covering food, service, wine, ambiance, health and safety - the whole dining package.
Readers applaud this “gem” of an Indian restaurant for its “artfully chosen” decor, “superb” cocktails and “exceptional” food. Babur is a long-standing neighbourhood favourite, where furnishings have become increasingly stylish over the years (currently, bare brick, tiled flooring, low-hanging lights and wooden partitions holding vibrant flower displays) and the Sunday buffet remains consistently popular. Food encompasses both northern and southern Indian cookery, so you’ll find clove-smoked lamb chops from the tandoor, as well as wild mushroom and pea dosa. But the new menu also contains a healthy dose of innovation. Dishes such as steamed spice-crusted shoulder of lamb with beetroot rice combine prime British ingredients with bold Punjabi flavours. Ostrich is marinated in a fierce Rajasthani masala, and even goat gets a look-in: slow-cooked to perfection and transformed with aromatic spices. To match these dishes, Master of Wine Peter McCombie has put together a list of food-friendly bottles.
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The best dining in South East London
For almost 30 years, this unexpectedly smart dining room in Brockley, a leafy but overlooked pocket of south-east London, has been offering adventurous twists on traditional, regional dishes. Mains that include steamed spice-crusted lamb shoulder with beetroot rice, and pot-roasted mustard rabbit, helped it to be crowned “London’s best Indian” by Zagat (“worth the journey”). The lifesize Indian tiger statue over the entrance is the only nod to curry-palace kitsch.
Reviewed by Will Beckett, co-owner of Hawksmoor

Babur is a really great restaurant. Its food is more ambitious than the usual neighbourhood fare (which I sometimes love, but it can be difficult to distinguish between one restaurant and another). Whereas with most Indian takeaways I stick to the same script every time (chicken rogan josh, garlic naan, sag aloo), at Babur there’s so much great stuff I mix it up a lot. Three dishes I’ve really like are the clove-smoked lamb chops, vegetarian thali and the pan-seared stone bass with fennel chutney.

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