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11 White's Row
On a backstreet behind Spitalfields Market, this cosy no-bookings Indian may be small and unassuming, but the menu is certainly explosive. “Great food, lovely atmosphere, fantastic service”, exclaims one fan – and we share his enthusiasm for Gunpowder’s spicy offer.
Set against an unfussy backdrop of exposed brickwork and steel chairs, the concise menu is rich in rustic Indian sharing dishes inspired by family recipes. Readers have singled out the venison and vermicelli ‘doughnut’, the aloo chat and the “sticky and sweet” Nagaland pork ribs with crunchy tamarind kachumber, but we’re fans of the ‘chutney cheese sandwich’ and the organic baby chicken char-grilled in tandoori spices.
The short dessert list also offers something for everyone: molten spice chocolate cake, comforting ‘old monk’ rum pudding or refreshing passion fruit and mint granita. Wine straddle the globe, but don’t ignore the Asian-inspired cocktails, made with ingredients such as masala Coca-Cola. “Reasonable prices” seal the deal.
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11 White's Row
Aldgate East Tube Station 340m
Liverpool Street Tube Station 400m
Tues-Sat 11.30am-2.30pm 6-11pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 4
It’s not often I’ve already been to a restaurant twice by the time I come to review it. That’s testament to just how good Gunpowder is.
I’d had a few people say to me “Have you been to this place called Gunpowder? It’s awesome! You’d love it!”. And then a friend at work said we had to go because it was soooooo good. He says this is one of only two Indian places in London that rivals the food his Mum cooks (the other is Gymkhana).
So off we went one weekday lunchtime. We made sure to get there early as it fills up stupidly quickly (it only seats 28). For the next hour I was wowed by continuous small plates of lipsmackingly tasty mouthfuls of joy.
The food here isn’t complicated or fancy, it just tastes bloody amazing. Each mouthful of food at Gunpowder takes you on a spice journey with layer after layer dancing around your tongue. This is food you can’t stop eating. This is food that, put simply, makes you smile. A lot.
I went back this week for lunch with my Dad and it was just as awesome. Unfortunately I still haven’t tried everything on the menu so I have no choice whatsoever but to go back.
What I ate:
Egg Curry Masala (£4.50)
This is my favourite thing on the menu. And it’s not easy to choose a favourite. I’ve had it twice now and its simplicity just amazes me. All it is is two boiled eggs, cut into halves and covered in a masala curry sauce. But my God, it tastes out of this world. This might be the best curry sauce out there. And the fact there’s only a few mouthfuls makes you appreciate it more. It’s tangy, tomatoey, sweet, citrusy and just the right amount of salty. Oh, and spicy. But the spice builds and builds without blowing your head off. As small morsels of food come, they don’t get much better than this.
Spicy Venison and Vermicelli Doughnut (£5)
Yes, yes, YES! This is a must order. Having banged on about how all the food here is simple, this is an anomaly. It’s creative, fun and darn right clever. The crispy bits of vermicelli on the outside mean it looks rather like a sea urchin. How is that not fun? Inside the sea urchin shaped doughnut is glorious minced venison, which made me think of a spiced bolognese (I might have to try making this). Once again the spicing was expertly done. This clever doughnut looks amazing, smells amazing, tastes amazing and has a brilliant crispy yet soft texture. My only criticism is that it’s not bigger ;).
Maa’s Kashmiri Lamb Chops (min order 2pcs) (£7.50 per piece)
Brilliant lamb chops and much better than Tayyabs. And I like the lamb chops at Tayyabs (when they remember not to overcook them). They were perfectly accompanied by a zingy green chilli sauce and some bright pink pickles. If you like lamb, get these.
Karwari Soft Shell Crab (£9)
This is the only thing I’ve eaten at Gunpowder that I wouldn’t order again. Its tasty, but opts for a sweet tangy tamarind flavour rather than spicy heat. It makes a nice contrast I suppose, but I didn’t find it as exciting as other things. And you can buy 2.5 egg masalas for £9!
Paturi Maach — Mustard Fish Steamed in Banana Leaf (£8)
Fantastic. Once again. The softest and moistest white fish you’ll ever eat with a subtle taste of mustard seed and the aromatic flavour of banana leaf. With some lightly spiced, slightly citrusy cauliflower on the side. A really nice plate of food to cut through all the epic spice. Yum.
Saag with Tandoori Paneer (£12)
Best saag paneer ever? Yes, probably. It’s creamy and indulgent, but without being too much so to make you feel sick. And once again, the subtle layers of spice in this dish are wondrous. The paneer itself is also great. If I’m being slightly picky, it wasn’t quite as good the second time around. But we’re talking unbelievable vs. amazing.
Kerala Beef Pepper Fry (£11)
This is a big bowl of deep, rich, spicy, peppery curried beef. It has some serious spice going through its unctuous meaty gravy. Really really enojoyable.
Organic Baby Chicken Chargrilled in Tandoori Spices Whole/Half (£16/£9.50)
As you’d expect based on the rest of the review, this was great. Beautifully marinated, moist, yoghurty, spiced chicken as good as you’ll find anywhere. Turns out half a baby chicken isn’t very big though (duh) so it didn’t last very long. A tad pricey for £9.50.
Aromatic Rice in Banana Leaf (£3.5)
This is just rice really. It tastes nice and it cooked perfectly. If you want some rice to go with your curry get some. If you don’t, then don’t.
For a curry and tapas lover like myself, Gunpowder is a dream come true. This is fun and epically tasty food that you want to dive head first into. And it’s also superb value for the quality. I’d recommend ordering 4-5 dishes between two people. Go as soon as you can. I’ll sure as hell be going soon to try the rest of the menu.
Should you go to Gunpowder?
Yeeeeeeeessssssss, go immediately. Make sure to go early evening or at lunch though, as it gets super busy quickly.
How much does it cost?
£20pp without booze, £30pp with a couple of drinks (if you don’t over order – good luck with that).
Food + drink: 5
Hidden away on a back street behind Spitalfields Market, Gunpowder is a cosy restaurant serving cracking Indian small plates. Although small, Gunpowder squeezes in as many people as possible - sharing tables is to be expected. On our visit, the staff were attentive and more than willing to walk us through the menu, which consists of small plates (2-3 per person for sharing), as well as several larger dishes. Highlights included the pork ribs (spicy, sticky and sweet), venison doughnut (spicy crumbly venison mince in a crispy vermicelli coating) and the aloo chaat (crispy potatoes and chickpeas in a well spiced, yoghurty sauce). The food is reasonably priced - around £60 for two people, including 2 cans of FourPure IPA each. I'll definitely be back!
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