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From Agni to Zora: Berlin’s tastiest Indian restaurants

The Indian food scene is exploding in size and popularity, with good reason. Here are the best Indian restaurants in Berlin right now.

Chutnify has two Berlin branches in Prenzlauer Berg and Neukölln. Photo: Chutnify

Say goodbye to canned corn and cream-drenched curries. In the past few years, a host of new restaurants have begun offering regional Indian dishes geared towards Berlin’s growing South Asian population (and Europeans who don’t fear the chili), joining the brave few that have been doing so this whole time. From Mumbai to Kerala, Amritsar to Hyderabad, here are our 10 favourites.

Tandoori temptations: Bahadur

The Bahadur is one of the best Indian restaurants in Berlin. Photo: Rebecca Sampson

A significant part of chef Bahadur Vir’s menu overlaps with that of your average Berlin Indian restaurant, but here’s the thing: it’s better. Way better. Here, a ubiquitous dish like tandoori chicken becomes a revelation, tender and smoke-kissed from the hot clay oven. Similarly, the creamy lentil stew dal makhani transforms from a forgettable side dish to a star in its own right, thanks to a 12-hour cooking time that lends it a depth of flavour you won’t find elsewhere. Visit the crew’s brand-new project Gapshap, a 10-minute walk away, for more tandoori-fired goodness and an especially promising-looking chaat menu.

  • Sigmaringer Str. 36, Wilmersdorf, Tue-Sun 12:00-23:00; Gapshap: Güntzelstr. 19, Tue-Sun 17:00-23:00

Punjabi pleasures: Agni

The lassi ain’t half bad either. Photo: instagram.com/agni_restaurant_berlin/

When in Moabit, make your way to this pint-sized spot for suitably spicy and very satisfying Punjabi-style vegetarian dishes. You could get full just off the selection of flatbreads, from the expected naan to potato parathas to the harder-to-find kulcha, puffy white bread stuffed with cauliflower, mixed vegetables or cheese. Anything from the tandoori oven, from paneer to a soymeat version of chicken tikka, is a must. If you simply can’t live without meat, you’ll find it at Agni’s second location in Prenzlauer Berg.

  • Kaiserin-Augusta-Allee 1, Moabit, Mon-Tue, Thu-Fri 11:00-15:00 and 18:00-22:00, Wed 11:00-15:00, Sat 10:00-13:00 and 18:00-22:00, Sun 10:00-13:00; Prenzlauer Allee 154, Prenzlauer Berg, Mon-Tue, Thu-Fri 17:00-22:00, Sat-Sun 12:00-1:005 and 17:00-22:00, website

Dosa pioneer: Chutnify

From the street food scene to their own Indian restaurant in Berlin: Chutnify now has two branches in Berlin. Photo: Chutnify

Groundbreaking when it opened in Prenzlauer Berg in 2014, Aparna Aurora’s South Indian-inflected restaurant now boasts a sister location in Neukölln as well as three branches in Portugal. It remains one of the best places in town to get a dosa – thin and crispy, tangy from three days of fermentation and filled with spiced potatoes, tandoori chicken or a chili-cheese mix. Don’t sleep on the curries, which you can sample a la carte or as part of a generous vegan, vegetarian, chicken, lamb or fish-centric thali plate. Wash it down with the all-time classic Nimboo Pani, a surprisingly refreshing lemonade punched up with Indian black salt.

  • Sredzkistraße 43, Prenzlauer Berg, Tue-Sun 12:00–15:00, 18:00–22:00; Pflügerstr. 25, Neukölln, Tue-Sun 18:00-22:00; Sat-Sun 12:00-15:00; www.chutnify.com

Gunpowder for gourmets: India Club

Indian restaurants in Berlin can be very fancy. The India Club is as elegant as its address in the Adlon. Photo: India Club Restaurant

If the location in the five-star Adlon Hotel didn’t clue you in, this is the fanciest Indian food you can get in Berlin, elegantly presented on custom china in an immaculately designed dining room. It’s also some of the best. Chef Manish Bahukhandi makes no compromises in translating the food of Northern India to a European fine dining setting, using premium spices and organic meat in exemplary versions of butter chicken and mutton seekh kebab –plus tandoori broccoli and potato gunpowder salad for vegetarians.

One-of-a-kind: The Indique

As promised by the name – a portmanteau of “Indian” and “unique” – the subterranean restaurant next to the Friedrichstadtpalast serves truly standout Indian food, with a conscious focus on avoiding the cuisine’s usual clichés. Whether it’s a shooter version of gol guppe where the potato-filled puri balls are balanced atop individual shots of tamarind-chili-mint water, or a Hyderabadi-style vegetable biryani cooked in a cast-iron cocotte for that irresistibly crispy rice crust on the bottom, expect the unexpected. At €70 for two people including five courses, wine and dessert, the “Grand Menu” gives you the most bang for your buck.

  • Ziegelstraße 29, Mitte, Wed-Fri 12:00–15:00, 17:00–23:00; Sat-Sun 17:00–23:00, www.theindique.com

Killer dosas: Saravanaa Bhavan

Dosas are all the rage. Photo: Saravanaa Bhavan

No Indian list would be complete without this Potsdamer Platz behemoth, a branch of the (in)famous vegetarian chain whose popularity, especially among South Asians living abroad, is such that even the 2004 murder conviction of founder P. Rajagopal barely dented its reputation. What’s all the fuss about? In a word, dosas. There are literally dozens of varieties of the crepe-like South Indian dish on offer here, each as crisp and perfectly engineered as a box of McDonald’s fries. Our favourite: the Ghee Roast Masala, so huge it’s impossible to photograph without standing on a chair. The idli, uttapam and vada – all made from various formulations of rice and lentils and served, like the dosas, with sambar and chutneys – are stellar as well.

Street food for the party crowd: Singh

Singh promises Papdi Chaat, Pani Puri and other street food specialties – and offers an alternative to the well-known snack classics at Schlesisches Tor. Photo: Aida Baghernejad

“Indian street food” is what this Kreuzberg restaurant promises, and Indian street food is what you get – an entire special menu is dedicated to snacks like North Indian pani puri and South Indian dosas. Those with larger appetites can get one of the daily curry specials, served as a combo with rice, salad, poppadoms and fresh-baked naan. We prefer to stick to sandwich-like specialties like Punjabi puri chole and stuffed kulcha bread, either a tasty alternative to the döners, burgers and pizza normally found around these parts.

Elusive but tasty: Swadesh

Swadesh is also in the dosa game. Photo: instagram.com/berlinfoodstories/

Opened mid-pandemic in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it spot by Oberbaumbrücke, Swadesh quickly became popular for its selection of South Indian street food classics (there’s a North Indian menu too, but it’s less reliable). The dosas are crisp and airy, nearly the size of your head and filled with creamy potatoes or paneer cheese. There’s also a particularly good version of sambar vada, donut-like lentil fritters served in a mildly spicy vegetable soup. Closed for renovations for eons, briefly appearing then disappearing on Mercedes-Platz, it now appears to have reopened – and with a new satellite in Schöneberg, no less – but call before your visit just to be sure.

  • Falckensteinstr. 44a, Kreuzberg, Sun-Thu 11:30-1:00, Fri-Sat 11:30-2:00

Hyderabad in Halensee: Tandoori Nächte

Spicy biryani, traditionally prepared at tandoori nights. Photo: Jane Silver

Think you know what to expect at a Berlin Indian restaurant that advertises itself as a “Cocktail Bar” first and an “Indisches Grillrestaurant” second? Think again. The marquee dish at this Halensee hidden gem is the Hyderabadi biryani, a knockout mix of chicken or lamb, rice, saffron and spices slow-cooked in a sealed pot and served, along with raita and the nutty gravy mirchi ka salan, to nearly every guest. But the standard curries, made with dried chillis and whole spices instead of powders, deserve your attention too (you’ll have to convince your server you can handle a bit of heat, though). We’re excited for a revisit once the newly installed tabletop grills are turned on.

Shopping and samosas: Zora Supermarkt

Pick up spice mixes, frozen parathas and Alphonso mangoes from Zora Supermarket in Friedrichshain. Photo: IMAGO / agefotostock

You come to this South Asian supermarket for Indian goodies like spice mixes, frozen parathas and Alphonso mangoes. You stay for the crispy-on-the-outside, creamy-on-the-inside potato samosas, fried in huge batches and sold for a mere €1.50 each (the more you buy, the cheaper they get). You can even make a meal out of them if you order them as a chaat, i.e. coated in chutney, chickpeas and chopped onions, tomatoes and coriander. Add in a cup of fresh sugarcane juice and you’ll feel transported to Mumbai right there on Kottbusser Damm (or, as of recently, Boxhagener Straße).

  • Kottbusser Damm 93, Kreuzberg; Boxhagener Str. 80, Friedrichshain, Mo–Sa 9:00–21:00, www.zorastore.de

Still hungry? Take a closer look at two of our featured restaurants: Tandoori Nächte and The Indique: A tale of two biryanis