As a Brit living in Buenos Aires, it can be hard to find Indian food that reaches the standard we’re used to, curry practically being our national dish. Adding to this predicament is the apparent Argentine aversion to anything spicier than a Dorito.
Despite a major broadening of culinary horizons in recent years, Indian food is still underrepresented, even in the thriving capital. Having said this, a few Indian restaurants, mostly in Palermo, are making waves, with restaurants like Tandoor and Taj Mahal in particular getting a thumbs up from the people at the Indian embassy (surely a good sign!).
After doing the rounds, I’ve selected some of the curry places I think most worthy of our time and money while in Buenos Aires. If you’ve discovered another option, do let us know in the comments below. And if you’re still not happy with the curry selection available here, the best option is probably to pick up some spices from barrio chino and make your own.
Located on the outskirts of Palermo Hollywood, this welcoming and charming Indian restaurant comes highly recommended by the Indian embassy – and it’s not hard to see why. The place has a warm atmosphere, low ceiling, and sparkling burgundy décor. Bamboo is visible through the glass wall at the back and waiters are uniformed in Indian tunics.
As a vegetarian, the restaurant gets my vote as well as the embassy’s, with a healthy vegetarian selection of around half a dozen options, involving seasonal vegetables, paneer, spinach, potatoes and more. Traditional dishes are present across the menu with a small number of original-looking recipes to tempt the more adventurous. The garlic naan goes well with curries, and the ‘picante’ dip that comes with it is possibly the best I tasted out of all the restaurants on this list. The saag paneer curry is particularly tasty, with a subtle, creamy flavour complimenting the richness of the cheese. In addition, the ice cold mango lassi, with sprinklings of cardamom, is divine.
Located on Scalabrini Ortiz and Nicaragua, Taj Mahal is another embassy favourite. A spacious, clean and tranquil environment sets off the classy décor, despite the TV on the wall showing cheesy Bollywood videos. Cosy booths are available to enjoy your curry in with intricate embroidery on cushions. This was one of the most fairly priced Indians restaurants I came across: you can spend $150 on a large meal easily providing enough leftovers to take away. The ‘daal makhanwala’ – lentil daal – is slow-cooked overnight lending it a richness not found in many of the other dishes from the restaurants on this list. British expats will enjoy the ‘tastes like home’ chicken tikka masala, which has just the right combination of spice and cream. Customers can choose the level of spice in their curry – just one of the charms of this restaurant.
Nicaragua 4345, Palermo. Tel: 4831 5716. Open Mon-Sat, 6.30pm-1am.
Its full name being Mash British Curry House, this restaurant doesn’t attempt to disguise the fact that it provides anglicised curries – nor should it, as they are nevertheless delicious meals. One of the only Indian restaurants in Monserrat, for the more centrally-located, Mash is no last resort in terms of curry choice. Popular with expats and porteños, Mash is never empty and a great choice for a sociable curry with friends or colleagues in an intimate setting. The rogan josh comes highly recommended, especially for those who like their curries mild, as the plate is swimming in a good, rich tomato sauce. If you want something with a bit more kick, you can ask the waiter for spicy on a British – rather than Argentine – scale. Mains are reasonably priced, and are served with basmati rice, while this is also one of the few Buenos Aires eateries not to include a cover charge these day. A solid option.
México 518, Monserrat. Tel: 15 6829 6829. Open Tues-Sat, 7pm-close.
Arguably the most popular Indian restaurant out there, Tandoor’s menu provides perhaps the widest variety of curries under one roof in Buenos Aires. They range from the standard tikka masala and korma curries to more original and authentic ones – recipes created by local families and chefs in the style of home-cooked meals, with the options changing with the seasons. They also provide a tempting variety of Indian tapas to start, including marinated prawns and traditional samosas. Selling some of the more costly curries on this list, Tandoor is a classy choice of restaurant rather than a cheap and cheerful one. Located in Recoleta, this is a good restaurant for those seeking a break from Palermo, the barrio that dominates the Buenos Aires restaurant scene, but don’t want to travel too far. For variety and innovation without a compromise on quality, Tandoor is the one.
Laprida 1293, Recoleta. Tel: 4821 3676; Open every day: 12-4pm for lunch, and 8pm-close for dinner; Delivery option at night from 8-11.30pm.
A stalwart in Palermo Hollywood, Bangalore is an inconspicuous pub-style restaurant located on a corner with a dingy but cosy interior and a pretty roof terrace to enjoy meals on sunnier days. The management also run the Shanghai Dragon and Gibraltar, other popular pubs in Palermo and San Telmo, respectively, and have really nailed the pint-and-grub after work model.
For a venue with such a British-pub vibe, the curries are surprisingly authentic, with a good level of heat and mix of spices. The vegetarian options are not as ample as Tandoor or Taj Mahal but just present enough to appease me. Cheaper than the more authentic Indians, Bangalore is a good choice for a casual meal without the need for occasion.