Indian Restaurants in Kigali
People I’ve meet in Kigali tend to generally be pretty laid back. It must be something about the beautiful hills and perfect weather that leaves us wandering around in good moods. But if you dare ask the question of which is the best Indian restaurant in Kigali, beware! The opinions will fly fast and furious, allegiances will be drawn, arguments will be had, punches will be thrown, and friendships will be lost. Ok, perhaps the last two are an exaggeration, but it’s serious business, my friends. We’re all very lucky to live here because Kigali has some of the best Indian food I’ve eaten anywhere! So, with all of this in mind, this article could be controversial but I hope it’s useful, especially if you’re still open-minded in your search for great food.
I always try my best to visit as many restaurants as I can when I write these semi-epic list posts, but sometimes new places pop up and old favourites close down or move. I wrote this article back in March, so please let me know if I’ve screwed something up. Of the entire list, I’m very familiar with about half of the places and I don’t eat regularly from most of the others. This is only due to finding what I like and generally sticking to it. I’m kind of a creature of habit that way. For the places I don’t know much about or haven’t been to recently (or at all), please give them a try and let us all know what you think!
My Top Picks
- Food – Delhi Darbar
- Atmosphere – Khana Khazana
- Value – Preet
…but Zaaffran will always be number one in my heart!
I still have to try Cafe India, located near the bus station in town, and Red Handi, a new place that’s taken over the location of Masala Street in Nyarutarama. Have I missed anywhere else?
Delhi Darbar used to have the wonderfully ridiculous name, Blueberry, but changed it a few years ago to something a lot more Indian-ish. This place has quickly grown into my favourite place and, honestly, I think they serve up some of the best Indian food I’ve had anywhere in the world! It’s part of a small hotel and the setting in the backyard is a little odd, but the food makes up for what they lack in atmosphere. The ‘Murgh Hariyali’ (also known as ‘green chicken’, Rwf 7,000) one of the best dishes in all of Kigali, so be sure to give it a try. If you contact them on WhatsApp they can send you the menu.
Order: Malai broccoli, Murgh Hariyali Pahadi Tikka (green chicken), and any paneer dish.
Hours: Daily, 11:30am – 3pm and 5:30pm – 11pm
Phone: 0788 398 000 / 0738 398 000 / 0788 721 111
This is a super low-key place perched above a Rwandan buffet restaurant on the second floor of a building in town. I’ve walked or driven past dozens of times and have never noticed it. When I did finally notice it when I was doing map research, I wrote it off as just another buffet place and I was going to leave it off the Kigali map altogether. Luckily, before I went to print I chatted with a friend who tipped me off and the rest is history! I’m a big fan. It’s crazy affordable and the South Indian food is fabulous. Beware that they cook with a lot of spice so unless you’re super hardcore, go mild. Actually, they never even ask me for spice level so perhaps that’s part of my issue.
Order: Any dosa, chili paneer, mushroom fry, Chicken 65, and kulfi for dessert.
Hours: Daily, 7am – 10:30pm
Phone: 0787 794 441 / 0738 732 732
Fat Mama’s Kitchen is a vegetarian Indian restaurant that focuses mostly on South Indian street food and snacks like dosa and chaat. I’m completely in love with their papri chaat (Rwf 2,500) and their samosa chaat is also amazing and I think it’s one of the best deals in the city. They make what I think are the best samosas in Kigali (Rwf 400) that are huge, crispy, and stuffed full of tasty veggie goodness. Fat Mama’s is one of the most affordable Indian restaurants in Kigali. The atmosphere is laid back and not at all fancy which is sets it aside as more of a place to come for a quick, relaxed lunch than for a huge meal. They have some excellent fruit shakes and lassi. Sit up on the balcony for a lovely view or they’ll deliver if you give them a call directly.
Order: Samosa or samosa chaat (they have the best samosas in Kigali).
Hours: Daily, 10am – 10pm
Phone: 0736 416 032 / 0783 455 718
Khana Khazana is many people’s favourite Indian restaurant in Kigali and this is where loyalties surface and friendships become strained. For my early years in Kigali, a person was either in Camp Khana or Camp Zaaffran and I was a Zaaffran gal. With Zaaffran moving to a weird location and Delhi Darbar on the scene, I’ve become confused and my allegiances are divided these days. But, with all that said, Khana Khazana is a fantastic place and the atmosphere is the best in town. Service here is better than most places in Kigali and the birthday ceremony/dance/I’m not sure what it is, exactly, is worth a trip here on someone’s special day. They have two locations these days, having opened an additional location in Nyarutarama a couple of years ago. Their menu is huge so, before you go, chat with a Khana loyalist to find out what to order.
Order: The delicious tomato soup starter, Tamatar ka Shorba (Rwf 2,800), Bharvan paneer tandoori (Rwf 6,700), and Kaju Kolhapuri.
Ok ok, I know! Lahori Taste is quite obviously a Pakistani place. I’m going to have to ask your forgiveness for including it on a list of Indian restaurants but they do have a lot of dishes that would qualify and I really like them and I wanted to include them so, I made the call. I know they’re not an Indian restaurant but lets look past that, shall we, and focus on their excellent food instead. This small and unassuming restaurant sits perched above the Car Free Zone in town and if you snag a seat on the balcony it’s a fun place to sit and watch the city pass by. Take note that food can take awhile to come and they don’t serve alcohol.
Order: Lahori chef special, aloo channa chat (ask for it without ketchup… because the ketchup makes it weird), and shami kebab.
Hours: Daily, 9am to 11pm
Phone: 0783 276 944
Preet has been around for many years, tucked away down a small alley in a busy part of Kigali not really known for having restaurants. It took me seven years of living in Kigali before I finally made it here which is ridiculous. Seven wasted years, I tell you! Ok, maybe that’s a bit extreme but really, this is a great little find. It’s certainly not fancy and it’s super small but it’s amazing value, cheerful, and the food is very good. It’s one of the few vegetarian-only restaurants in the city, too. As an added bonus, if you want to drink alcohol it’s BYO which helps cut costs even more and makes this an amazing spot for anyone on a budget. They’ve recently updated their menu and it looks amazing. Check their Facebook page to take a look.
Order: Try the papri chaat and paneer pakoda.
Phone: 0783 115 997
Perched at the top of the Manor Hotel, this is an ok choice if you live in this area. Since I’ve always lived on the other side of the city, I rarely came here unless I was meeting up with friends who live in Nyarutarama. Now that I don’t have friends in Nyarutarama and live even farther away, I haven’t been in years. The view is the one of the best in Kigali and it’s certainly the best out of all of the other Indian restaurants. The food and service are both very good and, while the prices are a bit on the expensive side when compared with other restaurants, the portions are large. Well, at least they were the last time I was here which was, to be fair, an eternity ago.
Phone: 0781 698 866
Last but not least, Zaaffran. They were my long time favourite Indian restaurant in Kigali and I still love them dearly but, these days, they’re more of a takeaway place. If you enjoy a tiny, prison-bar-like setting, however, then dining in might be for you. Zaaffran has the best palak paneer in Kigali and their veggie balls are one of my favourite dishes in the city, so I order takeaway from here regularly. Come to think of it, I only ever used to order takeaway so I suppose it’s not that big a deal that they’ve moved. It’s still the same great food and their new location in Kimihurura is more central and means that more people can enjoy the deliciousness!
Order: Subzi taka-tin (veggie balls), paneer tikka masala, and palak paneer. (Have you guessed yet how much I love paneer?)