I had first seen Dishoom when I was hopelessly lost in Covent Garden in August 2010. When I saw the restaurant, I stopped in my tracks and smiled for the first time since I’d been wandering in that quagmire of confusing streets. “Dishoom” is the sound I think of if there was a Bollywood version of the 1960s TV show Batman when they went “Bang! Pow! Kapow!” … you get my drift.
We ordered the non-vegetarian Diwali menu for two, as well as a spicy lamb chops plate since there were 3 of us. The Diwali menu had a drink called the Boom Boom Bellini, which we loved. My friend took a mango lassi, which she enjoyed as well. The food came as it was made, so everything was piping hot. The Kheema Pav (minced mutton with buttered and slightly toasted bread) was great; I’ve never really had kheema with pav before but there’s a first time for everything. Must make a mention of how fresh and tender the mince was…I started missing my mother’s kheema! The dahi puri was great (tiny bread shells with holes poked in them and filled with yoghurt, chutney, chickpeas and other spices) …loved how crackling fresh the puris were. When it came to mains, my friends had the grilled langoustines (I generally don’t do seafood…yes, I’m from Bombay, move along now, nothing to see here) and they told me it was fresh and tender and they liked it quite a bit. The lamb chops were superb too. I generally don’t like very many daals, but you could see me gobbling away their black daal (lentil curry) with their roomali rotis (known that way as they are as thin as a roomal/handkerchief) last night. The chicken biryani was rich in flavour; I might have personally had it a bit more spicy though (but then again, I do like spicy foods more!). We decided to have their golas – two pomegranate and chilli and one passionfruit and ginger. Both unusual flavours to have in a gola, but tasted good. My one and only quibble was here: I would’ve wished the golas actually came on a stick Bombay-style and I was disappointed my tongue wasn’t the colour of the syrup as it normally is. But the chai that came after that was… perfect. Spicy and served in the glasses you’d see Bombay chai-wallahs clinking around in their chai-delivery carriers…I was thinking of Bombay all the way. And then we got barfis served on the house (they looked like barfis but tasted like yummy pedhas to be honest!).
The atmosphere helped SO MUCH. The walls were adorned with frames of old Indian advertisements, 1960s or 1970s covers of the magazine Femina, old photographs… I was thinking of Parsi cafés a lot. I was also enamoured with the black fans slowly rotating above our heads. It was like I was back in Bombay! The servers were super-friendly (thank you Kiran for all your food suggestions!) and I loved that we could see the rotis and naans being made; it’s an art to see them whirling the rotis around and making them hot to perfection. We also loved the brightly painted bicycles outside.
It came up to £20 each, which was terribly reasonable for the amount of food we got. Plus the smiley Happy Diwali hand-written note on our bill added to the personal nature of the place.
Bang! Dishoom! indeed.
PS – I’m going back soon.