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Award-winning title from CAMRA Books

“Desi pubs show what we can achieve when we take on prejudice and fuse the best of two cultures – in this case British and Indian. They also Illustrate how we can then successfully – and with little conflict – navigate a post-racism world. This book reflects the stories behind this new beginning, as well as being a guide to the best places to drink pints while eating a sizzling platter. Or, as Harry Mungali in the Black Horse, Hounslow, West London, said: ‘You don’t want this to be a posh Egon Ronay guide. This has to be David Jesudason’s Best Desi Pubs.’ Let’s hope I’ve not let Harry down.”

Desi Pubs

A guide to British-Indian pubs, food and culture

Desi Pubs will take you on a journey to parts of Britain that are seldom visited. This is a celebration of Britain and the forgotten people who created our modern multicultural country.

 ‘A phenomenally compelling writer.’ – Richard Croasdale, Ferment

 

‘One of the most exciting books about beer and pubs in recent years.’ – Boak and Bailey

 

 ‘Deeply researched and beautifully written.’ -Roger Protz, Protz on Beer

 

‘The most important volume about pubs for half a century.” -Phil Mellows, Morning Advertiser


 ‘A sensitive and compelling oral history of British-Asian culture.” – Jonathan Nunn, food writer and editor of Vittles

Find hidden gems across the UK

In this new book, the first of its kind, British-Asian journalist and Beer Writer of the Year (2023) David Jesudason travels the length and breadth of the country, visiting ‘desi pubs’ run by British-Indian landlords who have stamped their unique identity on a beloved institution and helped to challenge our preconceptions of the pub customer: from rowdy cricket fans to vibrant bhangra nights via football supporters enjoying pre-match mixed grills and beers.

The Gladstone Arms

There is a general misconception that Lager is best with spicy food or curry. Still, after much exploration and discovery it turns out that actually a Pale Ale has many of the best characteristics to accompany spicy food. With the help of Meantime Brewery a special Desi pale Ale was brewed for the launch of this book.

Hosted by The Gladstone Arms in Southwark, London, we celebrated the publication of Desi Pubs with a gathering of brewers, writers, licensees, and more. David Jesudason and Mark Machado talked about the origins of Desi Pubs and why this book created a mix of emotions about cultural origins, race, and prejudice and brought about a new and somewhat positive outlook for why the scene is now an integral part of British pub culture.

“There are no shortcuts. If you take shortcuts, you will make shortcut dishes.”

But this isn’t blind experimenting. ‘When you use a spice,’ he says, ‘you should know exactly what the taste will be, otherwise you will not be able to control the result.’ Kumar is very good at why ‘home-style’ cooking – the kind of dishes our mothers produced – lingers in our memories, and why we come to desi pubs with high expectations.

‘Your mother cooks with love and passion,’ he says. ‘It can’t go wrong because [when you’re young you don’t have expectations. We do the same, but in bulk, but like mother’s cooking we cook with passion. We don’t see our customers as customers but as guests like when someone visits my home.’

Find more desi pubs across the UK

London

South London
The Glad (Borough)
Crown and Pepper + Windmill (Croydon)
Crown in Bromley (Bromley)
Crown in Mitcham (Mitcham)
Jolly Farmers (Purley)

North London
The Regency Club (Queensbury)
The Three Falcons (St John’s Wood)
Aroma Lounge (Wembley)
The Spice Rack, The Abercorn (Stanmore)
Tamil Prince (Islington)
Boulevard Sports Bar (Finchley)

West London

The Scotsman (Southall)
African Queen, Bulstrode, Black Horse (Hounslow)
Blue Ginger (Harrow)

East London
The Century Club (Romford)
V’s Punjabi Grill (Gravesend)
Gymkhana Bar And Restaurant (Ilford)

The North & Scotland

Sheepscar Bar & Grill (Leeds)
Bhajis n Beer (Bradford)
Lyceum (Bradford)
The Crafty Indian (Saltaire)
Soho Tavern, northeast

Glassy Central (Glasgow)

South & East of England

Three Tuns (Slough)
Easy Tiger (Brighton)
Tap and Tandoor (Southampton)
Brewers Inn (Cambridgeshire)
Tap and Tandoor (Peterborough)

West of England & Wales

The Ivy Inn (Evesham)
Millbank (Rhyl)

The Midlands

Smethwick

Red Cow
Blue Gates 
Ivy Bush

West Bromwich

The Vine
The Prince of Wales
Red Lion
Island Inn
Sportsman

Birmingham

Hen And Chickens
Keg and Grill
Soho Tavern
The Four Ways Inn (Rowley Regis)
The Summer House Bar And Grill
The Grove (Handsworth)

Leicester

Prince of Punjab

 

What is a desi pub?

A home from home

Desi means ‘home’ or ‘traditional’, and the word originates from the Sanskrit ‘Desa’,  meaning country.

Foundries and factories

Many of the Indians who came over to the UK worked in foundries and factories and the pub was often a quick stop after a hard day’s work.

Measured spice

Home-cooked and prepared with care is what defines the traditional desi style of food. No shortcuts and only the best ingredients.

Community ventures

Many of the desi pubs grew from a need for many Asian workers to have places to go when they were barred or refused entry. As time has gone on many of these pubs are now community hubs that provide much wider support.

“When I spoke to food author Sejal Sukhadwala about the best way to pair spicy food with pub drinks she mentioned that certain dishes offered by desi pubs particularly lend themselves to be eaten tapas style. This, to me, is the ultimate pub dining experience, because you can take your time during your session, eating and drinking at your pace.”

This is how ‘desis’ – people with Indian heritage – saved failing pubs and turned them into a joyful festival of mixed grills, naans and curries all washed down with plenty of beer.

Read about Desi Pubs

Buy your copy today

“It feels very homely, despite being a large venue, thronging with an interesting desi crowd who are diverse in age.”

Visit over 200 ‘desi pubs’ run by British-Indian landlords who have stamped their unique identity on a beloved institution and helped to challenge our preconceptions of the pub customer.

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