Barcelona might not have the street food of New Delhi or London’s East End Indian restaurants but there are still a few surprises for Indian food lovers. For a city that boasts a big Asian population, some of them have to get it right… and they do.
I am a big Indian cuisine fan, cooking it on a daily basis and even owning my own tandoor oven. Our office is located in the heart of El Raval, a multicultural neighbourhood and the best place to stock up with spices and other essential Indian cooking ingredients. After many meals in the city, this is a selection of my favourite Indian restaurants in Barcelona.
My favourite Barcelona Indian restaurants
Swad, The Indian Restaurant
This great little place makes it to the list for 3 simple reasons: it is a small family-owned business, like our own tour company; offers warm personal service, and it has some of the best Indian food in Barcelona city. The fact that it is located only a few blocks away from my house makes it very tempting to pop in here quite often.
A few months ago they renovated the interior which used to be quite bland. Now it has a lovely atmosphere in a very small room filled with the aromas of Asian spices. The food is to die for. They have a great value fixed-price menu for vegetarians and another one for meat lovers but eating “a-la-carte” is when you really appreciate this little gem in Barcelona.
OUR FAVOURITE DISH: Murgh Malai. These are yoghurt marinated pieces of chicken cooked in the tandoor oven. Their version is delicate and juicy at the same time.
In a more formal setting, this is a place to indulge yourself in the flavours of Indian cuisine. Chef Anand Negi learned his trade in India and London and it shows. We even dined here for the annual Runner Bean Tours Christmas party last year and we couldn’t be happier with the organisation.
It is a bit more expensive than other Indian restaurants in Barcelona but they offer good menu deals. If you prefer to try a bit of everything, go for one of their tasting menus. They have a sister restaurant called Rangoli in Barceloneta that also serves excellent food.
OUR FAVOURITE DISH: Saag Paneer. A classic vegetarian Indian dish that here is prepared beautifully and with real paneer.
Chennai Masala Dosa
When looking at the offer of Indian restaurants in Barcelona (or in any other European city for that matter) most of what you get is Northern Indian food. Don’t take me wrong, Moghul cuisine is marvellous and their tasty sauces probably rank as the best in the world. But India is a huge place and to miss out on the fabulous food from the South would be a shame.
As their name suggests, the people at Chennai Masala Dosa come from the state of Chennai (Madras). What they do is very simple: tasty homemade South Indian food. Their speciality is the dosas. This famous thin pancake is served here with a choice of various fillings. You can choose from a simple plain dosa to a paneer or mincemeat pancake. You can probably share one between two people (they are massive!) but I suggest also ordering one of their complete Thalis to get a full taste of the flavours from South India.
OUR FAVOURITE DISH: This is easy. Any of their thin masala dosas are just a fantastic option that leaves you wanting to come back for more.
Masala 73 Curry Bar
This fantastic Indian restaurant in Barcelona was actually born out of a food truck that was so successful that they decided to turn it into a diner. And what a restaurant it is! If you are expecting to have the traditional Indian dishes here you won’t be disappointed. Or will you? You might as the idea here is to recreate the Indian hits but with a twist.
The Pork Vindaloo is served as a Mexican taco on top of a homemade chapati, a duck magret can be tandoorized, and they even created their own Indian version of the traditional Bomba de la Barceloneta. It is also great for gluten-free options.
OUR FAVOURITE DISH: Green Vegetable Korma. Crunchy seasonal green vegetables (think asparagus, baby courgette and broccolini) served on a light sauce with cashews and coconut milk.
Don’t expect a fine dining experience in this little place near Paral·lel (although they do have a terrace outside with one table). The halogen lights might make you think that you are at one of those run-of-the-mill Indian restaurants you find everywhere in El Raval. Nothing could be further from reality. This is just good homemade Indian food.
It is a fantastic budget option too. They have a menú del día for around €10 and two versions of a Thali, veg and non-veg, for a similar price. The owner is a lovely man who will cook your food right on the spot so expect to wait for a while. You will forget the wait once you start tasting their delicious dishes.
OUR FAVOURITE DISH: Butter Chicken. One of the favourite Indian dishes is prepared here the way it should be: sweet and creamy.
Haldi Vegetarian Indian Restaurant
Vegetarians know that they always have a reliable source of fantastic food at Indian restaurants. In Barcelona, there is this new little place located in El Raval. There used to be an uninspiring traditional Indian restaurant here and the change of ownership and food style is definitely a huge improvement. Even if meat is your game, come too as you will have a very tasty meal that will make you forget your meat cravings very easily.
As a bonus, the owner and staff are some of the nicest people you can find. It is a healthy place all around so remember that, if you want wine or beer, it will have to be one of the 0% alcohol options.
OUR FAVOURITE DISH: Pani Puri. This Indian street food speciality is always a hit here. I can only describe it as “a mouthful explosion of flavours”.
This small place with lovely modern decoration is one of my favourite Indian restaurants in Barcelona. They specialised in Northern Indian cuisine so, don’t worry, you will find your Palak Paneer, Rogan Gosh and tandoori dishes. Here they are cooked beautifully and with tasty silky gravies.
The last time I was there on my birthday, they had a couple of Indian dishes with Chinese influence (Indo-Chinese fusion if you want to call it) but I don’t see them on the menu anymore. Hopefully, they will bring them back as it gave something very unique to this great Indian restaurant.
OUR FAVOURITE DISH: Chicken Korma. All you can expect from a Korma dish. Tasty, nutty, creamy… and plain delicious.
With a very small menu and a tiny space with shared tables, this is a great new addition to the Indian food scene in Barcelona. It was opened by the same people who run Tandoor who describe their place as a “contemporary vision of Indian street food”.
It’s more of a quick grab cafe than a restaurant and they specialise in Curry Bowls and Vada Pavs, the Indian equivalent to a traditional burger. The star of the show is the Butter Chicken Bada Pav, a nice way of bringing together two of the classics of Indian gastronomy. A bit overpriced for a Vada Pav but you’ll forget that after the first bite.
OUR FAVOURITE DISH: Butter Chicken Pav. Nothing more to say. Just delicious.
I might be cheating a bit here because it is not really in Barcelona but in Badalona, a town nearby and only a quick 15-minute metro ride. However, I couldn’t leave this amazing place behind. If you think that a pakora is a deep-fried greasy pastry or a kulfi is a kind of frozen ice cream, be ready to change your mind.
They call themselves Indo-Pakistani cuisine but all the classics are there: Chicken tikka, Rogan Josh, Saag Paneer, Lamb Madras… The restaurant is only around the corner from our accountant so it has become a tradition to have lunch whenever we visit them. Excellent is an understatement.
OUR FAVOURITE DISH: Vegetable pakoras & pistachio kulfi. The pakoras are a melt-in-your-mouth experience. I promise you would never have tasted anything like them. And don’t forget to end the meal with one of their pistachio kulfis. I was never crazy about them until I tried this one.
Fancy cooking some Indian food in Barcelona?
Finally, if you are into Indian cooking and you need some ingredients, there is a haven for you: J K Asian Foods. Located in the heart of El Raval, this family-owned little shop stocks everything you need for an Indian feast. It will surprise you how much they can pack in such a small space.
Can’t find asafoetida anywhere in Barcelona? In this shop, you’ll have three different brands. Have you run out of urad dal for your Dal Makhani? Here you could buy it by the kilo. Don’t know what the best Basmati rice is? Ask at the counter and they’ll have the answer for you.
I know that any Indian food lover will always have a craving every so often. These are my very honest recommendations for now. I haven’t listed any Indian restaurants in Barcelona that didn’t impress me (like Tandoor or Swagatam). Also, there are still some left to try that I have heard good things about (Maruya and Karma Lounge & Restaurant come to mind). So here is hoping that you find this post helpful…. from one Indian food lover to another ;-).
Main photograph by Bembi Barcelona