Packs a Punch

I have always enjoyed the explosion of flavours in my mouth when I have had Indian food. Despite having an appetite and insatiable hunger for almost all kinds of cuisines, I never realised how much I savoured and enjoyed Indian food (my mother’s cooking included) until I came to London and barely got to taste it.

Having heard of Dishoom one too many times, I decided quite adamantly to try it out. Unfortunately, luck wasn’t on my side. Dishoom having been rated one of the best restaurants in London obviously catered to a large audience, but they didn’t take reservations. It was because of this reason, that on two separate occasions, my friends and I had to turn back and find some other restaurant to eat in since the waiting period was upto two hours. My cribbing didn’t stop though.

I WANTED TO GO TO DISHOOM.

And finally, it happened. My two girlfriends decided to take me out on a surprise lunch date. From the time we left the hall till the time I didn’t see the restaurant, I had no clue as to where we were headed. I was blindly following my two friends. Upon seeing the sign of the restaurant though, the squeal that escaped my lips deafened the whole of Covent Garden I think. It most probably did.

Here’s a little snippet about Dishoom. The restaurant reflects and encapsulates the slowly fading atmosphere of old Parsi cafes in Mumbai with high ceilings and low hung bulbs where time seems to move slowly and the food speaks for itself. Can I just say, it does a brilliant job of keeping the memory of Parsi cafes alive.

Rules of the cafe : No smoking. No fighting. No credit. No food from outside. No talking loud. No spitting. No bargaining. No cheating. No water to outsiders. No matches. No gambling. No combing hair. All castes welcome.

Seated in the middle of the restaurant with wooden chairs and marble topped tables all around me, I felt as though I had been transported back to India for a few seconds. The restaurant walls were decked with posters and picture frames of old movies and the low hanging bulbs gave the restaurant a dimly lit but extremely cosy feel. After being seated, we were served water in traditional steel glasses and handed the menu and boy did my excitement shoot through the roof upon glancing at it.

Wanting to chomp on everything they had to offer, we decided on ordering Chilli Cheese Toast, Dishoom Calamari and Okra Fries as starters.

Chilli Cheese Toast : A Bombay standard. Cheddar melt on white bloomer. We had it with chillies on the side.

Dishoom Calamari : Tiny tender squid, grainy crumb – crunch, quick fried and tossed into a bowl with Dishoom drizzle.

Okra Fries : Fine lady’s fingers for the fingers.

These were served with three different dips/sauces; a tamarind dip that was extremely tangy with a hint of spice, a spicy dip made with chillies and swimming in oil and a minty green dip that was refreshing and had a slight taste of curd in it. Having cleared up every single crumb on the plate, we then mused over what to order for our mains. Dipa being the pescetarian that she is, decided on Mahi Tikka, a bowl of Steamed Basmati Rice, House Black Daal and Classic Raita as a side dish. I decided on having Chicken Ruby with two servings of Roomali Roti. Esperanza having once before tried the biryani, wished to eat it again and so chose the Chicken Berry Britannia.

Mahi Tikka : In Bombay, Mahi can be any fish, but this is sustainable Asian bass fillet in a subtle yoghurty marinade.

House Black Daal : A Dishoom signature dish – dark, rich, deeply flavoured. It is simmered over 24 hours for extra harmony.

Classic Raita : Delicate minty yoghurt, cool as the cucumber.

Chciken Ruby : A good and proper curry redolent with spice and flavour. Tender chicken in a rich, silky ‘makhani’ sauce, best mopped up with a Roomali Roti.

Chicken Berry Britannia : The Dishoom variation on the legendary Irani cafe special, with cranberries.

As you can tell, we lapped up every single morsel and I personally, had to refrain myself from licking my fingers. The Mahi Tikka was extremely soft and almost melted in the mouth. The Ruby Chicken was very creamy and thick albeit a tad bit spicy. The Chicken Berry Britannia was rich in flavour and the cranberries gave the right amount of sweetness. I couldn’t get enough of the food and felt a pang on finishing our meal. Despite having no space in my stomach for more, I was lusting for more dishes.

Before we left, we decided on ordering Kulfis as dessert. While Dipa and Esperanza chose the Mango Kulfi, I chose the Pistachio Kulfi. Esperanza who hails from Italy, declared that the Kulfi was the best she ever had and that it was better than gelato. THAT, coming from an Italian is HUGE.

Mango and Pistachio Kulfis.

We couldn’t leave without having a group picture taken of course. All the time we were there and even after we had left the restaurant, the smiles on our faces were so bright, it could blind someone. My desi soul so to speak was doing cartwheels in delight and couldn’t stop gushing over how delicious the food was.

Dipa, me and Esperanza.

People,if you are in London, visit this place. Stand in line if you have to, but visit it. You will keep coming back for more, I guarantee that.

Don’t believe me ? Read the review for Dishoom written by Dipa who prides herself on being quite the foodie. She’ll give you the cold hard facts. Also, if you wish to find out more about eating joints and whether they deserve a thumbs up or not, head over and read all about the glorious restaurants London houses on Dipa’s food blog : Dipa Dishes.

Happy munching Mavericks !

With love,
S

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