I had heard a lot about Dishoom, so when my family happened to be visiting me in London, I thought that it would be a great opportunity to give it a try. I was excited to be sharing with them a place I heard was akin to typical Irani cafes in Bombay, India. I was told that not only was the food tasty and true to Bombay cuisine (with a modern twist), but that the decor was also to be marvelled at.
And the hype was not unfounded.
I fell in love with the food (and drinks) as were my parents (and a little less so my little sister who wasn’t prepared for the level of spiciness of some of the dishes.)
Not unlike most popular restaurants in central London that don’t take bookings (unless you’re a certain number), we had to wait in a queue (in the rain). Cleverly, Dishoom recognises the lack of appeal in standing in a queue full of equally hungry customers such as yourself; so they pass by with a tray of drinks on the house, including their house chai. If you are lucky enough not to have to wait in a queue, you can still count your lucky stars, as the house chai features on the menu. And I would certainly recommend it as its authenticity took me back to my chai days in India. I would also recommend trying the chocolate chai if you’re into both chocolate and chai (what could possibly go wrong).
The Dishoom branches all share a similar theme: large spaces turned cosy with retro fittings, sepia portraits, Sanskrit verses, patterned tiles and traditional tunes. I’ve been to most of Dishoom’s branches and recently even made it to the Edinburgh one (unashamedly three times – once for breakfast, another for take away chai and another for lunch). Each branch has a Permit Room which is described on Dishoom’s website as recalling the Bombay Prohibition Act of 1949, which states that all tipplers are required to have a permit to consume alcohol (if only ‘for preservation and maintenance of one’s health’). And with drink, comes music in the form of ‘everything eclectic and rootsy – carefully curated soul, vintage R&B, new wave gems and funky retro Indian beat’.
It’s safe to say that I can recommend a number of delicious drinks and dishes and don’t worry, I’m not going to continue ranting about how great the chai is (even though it is). I would recommend you give the cocktails a try. I’ve had the Bollybellini – with raspberries, lychee, rose, cadamom mixed with prosecco. I’ve also had the Chaijito which is a twist on the Mojito, infusing rum with their signature chai syrup muddled with ginger, mint, coriander and lime.
If you’re not up for an alcoholic beverage, you can try their lassis. I’ve tried all four: Mango and Fennel (with mango pulp and fennel seeds), Rose and Cardamon (which they describe as sweet and subtle as a perfumed love-letter), Salted lassi with crushed cumin and Bhang which is traditional holi drink served with mint instead of hemp and does not come with cannabis. Yes, weed. Bhang Lassi in India is a drink that’s made of yoghurt or milk, nuts, spices such as cardamom and cinnamon, rose water, and – weed – ground and mixed with water, then formed in the shape of balls. At Dishoom, you are given the option to add a shot of rum instead.
As the last time I was in Dishoom, was in Edinburgh only last week, we decided to opt for the Chef’s Edinburgh Special – a delicious dish of lamb braised in gravy finished with crunchy thin crisps and served with a buttered roomali roti. We also ordered the Dishoom Chicken Tikka with rice. Both very flavoursome, both mouth watering and both appropriate in portion size. And the prices very agreeable too!