channa butara at Saravana Bhavan

channa butara at Saravana Bhavan

Tooting in South West London has a buzzing Indian sub-continent population, which means there's some great eating to be found in these parts. One of my favourites is the no-frills Saravana Bhavan for quick, quality, South Indian vegetarian food. 

My Indian friend introduced me to this place years ago, and I've been a regular since. Absolutely everything is under our magic £8 mark, and you could probably even squeeze in three courses and still come under budget, or there abouts.

You want to order from the 'local inspiration' part of the menu for starters, and you really shouldn't leave without drying their dosas.  I love the rava masala dosa - a crepe made of cream of wheat and rice, stuffed with spicy potatoes and onions £3.50. And I'm also a sucker for their onion uthappam - a thick pancake with ingredients cooked into the batter. The sambars and chutneys and dips they all come with are terrific; I just can't get enough of the gloriously grainy gunpowder chutney.

onion uthappam in the foreground, rava masala dosa in the background

onion uthappam in the foreground, rava masala dosa in the background

Then there's the channa batura; order it for the fantastic flavours, and the novelty of breaching the huge and fluffy fried bread, with a rich and deep channa masala (spiced chickpea curry) for dunking, £3.50.

Expect it to be constantly busy, full of locals and families, many waiting to pick up an order, or for a table. If you do need to wait, fear not - it's never for that long, and it's worth it.

Words and photography | Leyla Kazim

Editor's note: these guys are in fact an international brand, which we don't usually cover. But they've only got three stores in London (the other two are in Harrow and East Ham), and they're far from a conglomerate. And they are good. So we thought, why not. 



254 Upper Tooting Road SW17 0DN

Opening hours
Mon - Sun | 9am - 10.30pm

Website |

Tel | +44 (0) 20 8355 3555

Last updated | 4th Feb 2016