Babur review: 'Genuine gourmet Indian cuisine at Lewisham mainstay'

Babur, in Brockley Rise, Honor Oark, offers a mix of traditional and modern Indian cuisine.

Tikka butter masala at Babur in Lewisham. (Photo by Babur)Tikka butter masala at Babur in Lewisham. (Photo by Babur)
Tikka butter masala at Babur in Lewisham. (Photo by Babur)

Now approaching 40 years serving south London, Babur has steadily built a well-deserved reputation for high quality and innovative Indian cuisine.

Just a short walk from Honor Oak station, it is housed in an unassuming terrace in Brockley Rise. But go in and you're presented with modern and welcoming dining rooms with tables generously spaced for relaxed conversation.

The restaurant takes great pride in its wine expertise, matched dish by dish with the menu, but for us it was a non-drinking occasion.

Fortunately, Babur also does excellent mocktails. My Apple and Caramel Sling was full and hearty without being overbearing - I had two. My companion’s Lemon and Mint Cooler was fragrant and the right side of sweet.

The sweet apple prepared me perfectly for an outstanding garlic chutney, which came as part of a foursome before the main meal. Generally, I can take or leave poppadoms but these were good and the chutneys were superb (Babur sells them via its online shop).

A selection of poppadoms came with a chutney selection, the highlight of which was a satisfying and aggressive garlic - as it should be. And on the side was a complimentary aloo (potato) bite with a good kick.

Griddled scallops at Babur. (Photo by Babur)Griddled scallops at Babur. (Photo by Babur)
Griddled scallops at Babur. (Photo by Babur)

For my starter we had griddled scallops (£12.50) - delicate and perfectly cooked with spiced pea puree, red pepper reduction, roasted cumin - and Dungar quail with a mango mustard sauce (£9.50). Both dishes were excellently balanced - and there's no skimping on flavour.

I'm predominantly vegetarian and for my main I went for a supremely filling thali (£22.95) - peas kadai paneer, green bean fogath, dal makhni, aloo gobi, mustard raita, pulao rice and mini naan bread. My companion chose a classic butter tikka masala (£18.50), made with Suffolk chicken thighs, that was every but as rich and satisfying as you would hope.

Tikka butter masala at Babur in Lewisham. (Photo by Babur)Tikka butter masala at Babur in Lewisham. (Photo by Babur)
Tikka butter masala at Babur in Lewisham. (Photo by Babur)

For dessert we shared a stem ginger and honey kulfi, which was a slight challenge with a fork but a perfect, refreshing end to a filling meal.

Babur has the feel of a classic neighbourhood restaurant and a gourmet experience at the same time.

A tasting menu is available and from November 12-30 a special three-course Diwali menu is on offer at £65 with wine pairings and £50 without.

A selection of dishes at Lewisham's Babur. (Photo by Babur)A selection of dishes at Lewisham's Babur. (Photo by Babur)
A selection of dishes at Lewisham's Babur. (Photo by Babur)

Babur

Having moved from Sylhet in Bangladesh to Wembley with his family when he was a teenager, Emdad Rahman opened Babur when he was aged just 22.

The kitchen is led by head chef Jiwan Lal and sous chef Praveen Kumar Gupta - both formerly of the luxury Oberoi Hotel Group - and mixes traditional regional cooking with modern cuisines of the subcontinent.

It has an online store selling chutney, spice and cocktail selections, as well as gift vouchers and hampers.