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Royal Mahal

5 October 2023: Royal Mahal - Norbury does it better


It was double date night and what better way to impress two people I didn't know than by hosting it in Norbury.

"Where?" I hear you say; fear not, I will explain...

Some may call it a poor man's Streatham. others a rich man's Thornton Heath, regardless it's an unassuming neighbourhood in London's SW16. 

Sure, Norbury isn't going to win best place to live in London anytime soon - it's basically in Croydon for one thing - but with an understated curry scene of its own it deserves some respect (possibly) or some profile raising at the very least. 

The fact it just happened to be situated equidistant between our respective homes was only coincidental, as was the fact it was National Curry Week. The stars were surely aligning?

On this, the first visit to Norbury for the blog, we chose the newest addition to the scene, Royal Mahal - the sister restaurant to Tooting's very own. But would it match one of South Londons best, only a step inside would tell?


It's hard to add any glamour to Norbury, and that's definitely not because it has too much already, however, Royal Mahal manages to do just that. Situated at the north end of the London Road the brighly lit and sparkly interior trumps even the bling of its counterpart in Tooting. This may seem hard to believe for any regulars of that branch, but with the candle watts turned up to eleven, and an altogher better organised and newer surround, it's true. Plush blue velvet banquettes, marble veneer tables, and spectacular lighting provide a comfortable, bright, and spacious dining experience replete with Instagram-ready addages scrawled on the walls in cursive neon lighting. 

Royal Mahal is a strictly no alcohol venue a good 10-minute walk from the nearest decent pub, but we managed with a precursory few pints at The Railway beforehand and encourage you to do the same. Sure, with more gold than El Dorado, the interior design might not be to everyone's taste, but the oasis of light it shines on the otherwise dreary Norbury deserves recognition and praise. 


Sides and starters


Gol Gappay

Large Mixed Grill

2 x Peshwari Naan

2 x Pilau Rice

A refreshing mocktail and a round of poppadoms started proceedings with the latter supported by some of the crispest salad you've ever seen in a curry house. Likewise, the chutnies were sharp, with the firey chilli a stand out. These came in handy on the arrival of the main starter which was a large mixed grill consisting of four lamb chops, two seekh kebabs, numerous chicken and lamb tikka pieces atop a sizzling hot plate of fried onions, lemon slices and peppers. This was enjoyed by all, but wasnt quite as generous or exciting as the best found locally at Lahore Spices and Mirch Masala.

Similarly, the gol gappay 'shots' (also known as pani puri or puchka) offered a novel bite, but the flavoured water that's poured in was more damp squib than splash of colour. Better were the peshwari naan but their coconut centre was a touch disappointing - drier and lumpier than the buttery best. 

All told though it was a solid rather than remarkable showing from the Starters and Sides. This reflects the consistently good experience found at Royal Mahal on many visits to the Tooting branch (formerly Spice Village), but perhaps lacks that something little extra of the old Spice Village days (sorry!).



Lamb Karahi

Chicken Channa

Again, for the mains it was a pretty good showing, although the portion sizes could possibly have been bigger. Nevertheless, the meat content was generous and the two dishes we chose were satiating even if readily dispatched. 

The lamb karahi (balti) - an LCB favourite - was comfortingly familiar, with tender lamb pieces cooked with a blend of herbs, spices, ginger and garlic. This was a boneless dish, but didn't necessarily lack any of the flavour of the boned variety (so to speak). 

The chicken channa was also off the bone, and described on the menu as 'fit for the Royals'. I'd be amazed if any of the Royal Family ever make it to Norbury for a curry, but stranger things have happened, like Prince Andrew visiting a Woking Pizza Express...or sweating. That said, our co-diners were Kate and Will, so maybe it was a fated choice. Talking of sweat, neither curry was as spicy as promised which was fitting for a pair of pleasant, if unremarkable dishes.

If I sound non-plussed on the food here it may be because I've come to expect the standards on offer from a Royal Mahal, and most will not be disappointed, but the mains were solid, nothing more. 



As per the Tooting branch, staff here are amongst the best dressed in the Southwest. As much as that sounds like they're dressed like cowboys, in reality smart shirts and aprons are the order of the day. 

Similar to the Tooting branch, a rather random ceremony of dry ice and the ensuing steam/smoke acompanied our mixed grill causing much confusion and visionary impairment. I'm not going to say this was unwelcome, as it did provide amusement, but the show was certainly more West of Croydon than West End. Teasing aside, the staff were very polite and friendly and that's all you can ask; a good performance.


Value For Money

Generally, the value for money here is good. The mains are slightly above average in price for the geography (£11.99 for the lamb balti) and the mixed grill was surprisingly toppy at £27.99, but otherwise the prices are pretty fair. Between four, with soft drinks, it came to about £26 a head for a very filing meal, which isn't too bad.



Despite the mick-taking, I'm glad to have finally made it to Norbury for a curry and not just passed through on the way to Gatwick. Royal Mahal is a welcome addition, not least as it shows the brand is growing, but I'll reserve judgement on the wider Norbury scene folllowing future visits and reviews. 

In isolation, Royal Mahal, is a very respectable establishment and worth the visit for locals. It's a safe bet and scores accordingly.


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Address: 1538-1540 London Rd, Norbury, London SW16 4EU

Cuisine: Pakistani/Punjabi

Status: Open​

Alcohol Policy: No-alcohol​

Price: ££​

Summary: An oasis of curry bling in ordinary Norbury

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