Where to celebrate Diwali in London

2022-09-17 03:05:12 By : Mr. JIANCHAO XU

Food takes a central role in Diwali - the annual Festival of Lights that celebrates the triumph of good over evil

Updated on 02 September 2022 • Written By Joanna Magill

Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a time of celebration for millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. This extraordinary festival lasts a full five days and celebrates the triumph of light over dark and good over evil, as well as new beginnings. Oil lamps and lights are lit across streets and homes, and emphasis is placed on the importance of family and of course, food.  

As Diwali folows the Hindu lunar calendar, the date changes every year. This year Diwali will last from 22-26 October , with Monday 24  October being the main day of celebration.  

London isn't afraid to go all out when celebrating the Festival of Lights. The Diwali festival at Trafalgar Square attracts around 35,000 people every year with its lively music and dance displays and market featuring vegetarian food, arts and crafts, and henna. Similar celebrations are found taking place at the National Maritime Museum and Wembley Park.   

Food is an important part of Diwali celebrations, a lot of which is made with dairy produce before being offered to both gods and guests. Savoury snacks tend to include the famous samosas and bhajis, as well as aloo tikki (griddle-cooked potato patties) and channa bhatura (spiced chickpeas and puffed bread). If you’re in the Gujarat, look out for the ‘farssam’ or ‘crunchy snacks.’ Traditional Indian dishes like meat-based and vegetable curries, dhals and pulses make up the main meal, while sweetmeats, known as ‘mithai’ are the real stars of the show during Diwali. If you don't fancy cooking for yourself this year, London has no shortage of fine Indian restaurants, many of which will offer special set menus for Diwali, featuring the food most commonly eaten during the Festival of Lights.   

With all that in mind, here’s our selection of the best restaurants to celebrate Diwali this October.   

What: Trishna's reputation precedes it. One of a select few Michelin-starred Indian restaurants in London, this elegant eatery offers beautifully presented traditional Indian dishes with a modern twist. Diwali is a special affair here, with the 6 course festive menu including standout dishes like lemon chicken tikka, tandoori lamb chop and chemmeen manga curry. There's also the option to take things up a notch by adding a sommelier wine pairing from house oeniphile Sunaina Sethi.  Where: 15-17 Blandford Street, W1U 3DG Book now: Trishna

What: Created by iconic chef Atul Kochhar, this Michelin-starred joint is the ideal place to celebrate Diwali in style. This interesting and innovative menu uses British ingredients to create elegant Indian dishes. Benares is known for going all out for Diwali- past years have seen floating candles, Marigold flowers and a special 8-course tasting menu- so expect great things.  Where: 12a Berkeley Square House, Berkeley Square, W1J 6BS Book now: Benares

What: Paying homage to the old-style Irani cafes, Dishoom is one of the most popular Indian restaurant franchises in the UK, celebrating the cuisine of Bombay. Popular dishes here include the classic black daal, lam raan and gunpowder potatoes. Diwali is an all-out event here, with past years hosting an all-day event featuring family-friendly workshops, acitivites and evening festivities such as spoken word, live music and DJ sets. Don't miss out! Where: Various locations Book now: Dishoom 

What: This is Farzi's first site in the UK, after gaining supreme popularity and India, as well as opening a location in Dubai. With its gold interiors and intimate candle lighting, Farzi Cafe is the ideal for an intimate Diwali meal with friends and family. Enjoy a premium Diwali set menu, presented in a customary sharing style - crispy idli chat, goat rogan josh and chicken tikka masala are a must.  Where: 8 Haymarket, SW1Y 4BP Book now: Farzi Cafe

What: Site number six for Indian fine-dining group Jamavar is based in Mayfair, bringing the franchise's 'divine' and 'authentic' cuisine to the UK capital. If you fancy treating yourself for Diwali, then dining on Jamavar's elegant, Michelin-starred Indian dishes is the way to go. Two set Diwali menus are available - one for meat eaters and one for vegetarians, each dish accompanied by a recommended cocktail pairing, with the option to add an accompanying whisky for an extra fee. Where: 8 Mount Street, W1K 3NF    Book now: Jamavar

What: Kahani, or 'story' in Hindi, invigorates seasonal British ingredients with fragrant Indian spices and traditional cooking methods. Indulge yourself with dishes such as chicken makhani, saag paneer, and smoked Malabar prawns marinated in fresh turmeric, coconut and curry leaves. Located opposite Cadogan Hall, Kahani's beautiful Peacock Room is ideal for those seeking a more intimate location for their Diwali meal.  Where: 1 Wilbraham Place, SW1X 9AE Book now: Kahani

What: More Michelin-starred dining on our list, this time from the unforgettable Gymkhana in Mayfair. A favourite of foodies and celebrities alike, expect to find classic Indian dishes like pork cheek vindaloo and lamb shank yogan josh all prepared to the highest quality. Gymkhana are known for all-out Diwali celebrations, and are set to launch an exclusive Diwali feast menu accompanied by late-night festivities.  Where: 42 Albemarle Street, W1S 4JH Book now: Gymkhana

What: With a name inspired by traditional Indian copper cooking vessels, Copper Chimney established its first European outpost on Westfield Shepherd's Bush's iconic restaurant street. It occupies a stylish contemporary space filled with greenery and natural light, and enjoys huge popularity with shoppers in the nearby shopping centre. If you don't fancy cooking this Diwali, swing by for some tandoor grills, curries and biryani, washed down with one of the many options on the extensive chai menu.  Where: Southern Terrace, Ariel Way, W12 7GA Book now: Copper Chimney

What: From the team behind Gymkhana and Trishna comes Brigadiers, an Indian barbecue restaurant and drinking hotspot. This place prioritises pleasure, with interesting features including on-tap cocktails, champagne and punch fountains, and even a whisky vending machine! If you want to let loose this Diwali, then Brigadiers is the place for you - their extensive selection of barbecued Indian dishes are also not to be missed. If you fancy swinging by another time, bear in mind that this venue also acts as a sports bar, screening all the major sporting fixtures.  Where: 1-5 Bloomberg Arcade, EC4N 8AR Book now: Brigadiers

What: 2021 saw BiBi present one of the most interesting Diwali menus in the city; the Duck Special ran alongside the main menu, using every part of the duck to create dishes such as confit duck leg shammi kebab. duck heart ghutwa kebab and duck crown with Awadhi brown stew. Main dishes showcase a range of dishes, ranging from fresh and fragrant to creamy to spicy to saucy, all enjoyed in a warm, relaxed environment full of mango wood and abstract prints.  Where: 42 North Audley Street, W1k 6ZR Book now: BiBi

What: Cinnamon Kitchen needs no introduction. Vivek Singh's high end modern Indian cuisine is beloved throughout the city with its colourful nature, depth of flavour, and slight British influences. Cinnamon Kitchen understands the central role food has in the Festival of Lights, and its clove-smoked lamb rump with fennel and nutmeg sauce, or kale and quinoa kofta are an ideal way to celebrate.  Where: 9 Devonshire Square, EC2M 4YL; Arch 758, Railway Arches, Battersea Power Station, SW8 5BN Book now: Cinnamon Kitchen

What: Kanishka boasts a delicious three course Diwali menu offering the best of modern Indian cuisine. There's an impressive range of options; choose your starters, curries and desserts from the kanishka, curry and dessert feasts, all of which are designed to be shared. Kanishka is another brain child of Atul Kochhar, the first-ever Indian chef to win a Michelin star, and the venue boasts a luxurious yet intimate feel.  Where: 17-19 Maddox Street, Q1S 2QH Book now: Kanishka

In the mood for some spice? Check out our list of the best Indian restaurants in London. 

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