Mela in London

Chicken Tikka (Classic chicken tikka with garlic, ginger and chillies). Gilafi Seekh Kebab (lamb kebabs). Luft-E-Dariya (Tiger prawns marinated in saffron, caraway seeds and coriander). Aloo Tikki (Shallow fried potato and pea patty spiced with ginger)

It’s been a decade since I last saw Oulu, Finland on my internship.

Those were both the coldest (and warmest) three months of my life. Coming from the tropics, nothing could have possibly prepared me for just how cold the temperatures would plummet that close to the polar caps (it went down to 35ºC on New Year’s eve) and how the lack of the sun could be so depressing. Four hours of daylight make for extremely dark days.

Murgh Tikka Makhanwala (Chicken pieces in fenugreek and creamy tomatoes). Gosht Rogan Josh (A traditional hot lamb curry). Bombay Aloo (potato, onion, ginger and cumin). Yellow Lentils With Raw Mango (Lentils and raw mango with delicate spices and burnt garlic)

During my stay at the institute hostel, I shared the residence with a bunch of English roommates and we did just about everything together: share meals, went clubbing, sweated in the hostel sauna, drank copious amounts of rum and vodka, and shared a life that today seems a million miles away.

So it goes without saying that when the SO and I confirmed our travel dates to London, I organised a catch-up with them. Call me a sucker for pain, but I looked back on those days fondly and often wonder how everyone is doing today.

The dinner catch-up was at the Mela, a restaurant one of their friends had recommended. I was keen to compare how Indian cuisine in London had evolved against the Indian back home. And besides, they used to go on about how awesome the Indian cuisine is in England.


We arrived 30 mins early from pre-dinner drinks, so asked if we could have our table. The restaurant was empty, so it wouldn’t seem like a problem. But the staff out front said no and later said they would seat us at separate tables.

Erm, no.

Our English friends basically said we would be happy to eat somewhere else, to which the staff immediately showed us to our table. We ordered 2 sets and the food didn’t take very long to be brought to the table.

To be honest, the flavours are there and it’s authentically Indian (vs say… curry in German, which has pineapple), but I would’ve preferred more chilli heat for the extra kick. The set is supposed to feed two adults, but I would recommend it is shared between 3 to 4 smaller eaters. I hardly could fit in the mains after the starter plates.

Not pictured are our desserts Gulab Jamun and Kulfi Falooda.


Mela Restaurant
152-156 Shaftesbury Avenue
London WC2H 8HL
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 020 7836 8635

Opening hours:
Mon – Fri: 12.00 – 23.30
Sat: 13.00 – 23.30
Sun: 12.00 – 22.30

Mela on Urbanspoon