While London wins the crown for the highest number of residents of Indian descent in the UK, at over 260,000, Leicester is by far the most Indian city in the country, with a total of 28.3% of the population being either born in India or having Indian-born parents or grandparents. This stunning demographical feature of one of Europe’s most diverse cities means that this mid-sized city in the East Midlands is home to a rich and staggeringly varied feast of Indian culture.
All of the 29 states of India are well-represented within the city limits, making it the perfect place to experience authentic Indian culture, wherever you’re from. Here’s how to spend 24 hours in Leicester, the most Indian city in the UK.
9am: Breakfast at Aarti Sweet Centre
Start your busy day off right with a classic Indian sugar rush at the Aarti Sweet Centre. This place is open from the early hours to cater to the first-risers and offers an overwhelming array of authentic Indian sweet treats, including Kheer, Barfi, and Ras Malai. Wash it all down with a steaming cup of Chai and you’re good to go.
10:30am: Explore Leicester’s Heritage at the Newarke Houses Museum
This history of the Indian community in Leicester can be traced back decades, and the sprawling Newarke Houses Museum in the city centre is the ideal place to learn the full story. The museum is housed within a gorgeous 17th-century manor and is the place to go to get your crash-course in the fascinating history of all of Leicester’s diverse communities.
12:30pm: Lunch at Chettinad
There are quite literally hundreds of unmissable Indian restaurants in Leicester, but if you can only visit one for lunch, make sure it’s Chettinad. This cosy establishment on bustling London Road has one of the best lunch deals around, offering fresh and colourful thalis with all of India’s greatest culinary hits for just over a fiver. Make sure to accompany it with a sweet glass of mango lassi.
2:00pm: Do Some Indian Shopping on Belgrave Road
Belgrave Road, also known locally as the “Golden Mile”, contains dozens of shops and markets showcasing goods from every corner of the Subcontinent. Head here to pick up some authentic items of clothing as well as some charming nicknacks to take back home.
5:00pm: Grab a Drink at Chutney Ivy
Chutney Ivy is an award-winning Indian restaurant which is guaranteed to be packed every night of the week, but they also have a killer bar for you to sink down a few bottles of Kingfisher or Haywards before a night on the town. Once you’re sufficiently buzzed, head to one of the nearby casinos for a few rounds of blackjack, which is a popular venue for locals who are starting off their night. You might be up against seasoned players, the type that use big online casino platforms like Paddy Power to improve their game with multi-hand blackjack, so consider getting some decent practice in beforehand.
7:30pm: Dinner at Kayal
Kayal is probably one of the most memorable dining experiences you’ll ever have. It’s one of the few places in the UK serving authentic Keralan cuisine, and the refined setting and atmosphere will make for an unforgettable evening. Book well in advance.
A trip to Leicester will always be an exciting cultural experience, whether you’re a UK native or looking to savour the flavours of home.