With five restaurants across London, plus branches in Manchester, Birmingham, and our own fair Edinburgh, Dishoom is one of the most talked about Indian restaurants in the country. Each is inspired by a different aspect of life in Old Bombay; overlooking St Andrew Square, the Edinburgh branch forges a connection between the two cities by way of Sir Patrick Geddes, a botanist and town planner who helped improve living conditions in Edinburgh’s Old Town before relocating to Bombay. It’s sumptuously decorated in the heritage of Bombay’s Irani cafes, but naturally, we’re gravitating straight towards the food!
Open early till late, the day starts right with their cracking great breakfast. Special shout out to the Bacon Naan – a light, puffy naan bread surrounded by layers of crispy sugar-cured bacon, melted cream cheese, coriander and chilli tomato jam. It laughs in the face of the British bacon buttie, and is an absolute must-try. Alternatively, opt for the Full, erm, Indian. The Big Bombay Breakfast includes akuri (spicy scrambled eggs), char-striped smoked streaky bacon, peppery Shropshire pork bangers, masala baked beans, grilled tomato and mushroom, and buttered pau buns. Match it with a lassi or a breakfast cocktail and you’ll be set for the day.
If it’s lunch or dinner you’re after, Dishoom has it all. And get ready to feast. The dishes are designed to share, and staff recommend getting a couple of dishes per person. Highlights for me include the House Black Daal, the Mattar Paneer, the Chole Puri (a chickpea curry served with puffy bread) and the Spicy Lamb Chops. The Gunpowder Potatoes are a winning side order too, if you’re looking for something other than rice.
They have separate menus for vegans and those avoiding dairy or gluten – and there’ll even arrange a legitimate feast for tables of ten or more. The drinks menu is so massive that you might want to start browsing before you arrive – it took my dad and I an embarrassingly long time to decide on just “two beers please.” But there’s a hefty list of cocktails, wines and lassis to cast your eyes over, so it’s a good idea to at least narrow down your preferences. If it helps, The East India Gimlet comes strongly recommended, and the Chillitini is a personal favourite of mine. Oh, and don’t miss your chance to venture down to The Permit Room, the venue’s in-house drinking den.
To top it all off, Dishoom has a couple of extra tricks up their sleeve: first, a much-coveted cookbook. It promises “recipes for almost everything on our menu”, meaning bacon naan rolls, okra fries, black daal, and vegan dishes like jackfruit biryani are at your fingertips. They’ve throw in some refreshing drinks recipes for the full dining experience, too. Titled Dishoom: From Bombay with Love, the book also functions as a love letter of sorts to old Bombay, focusing on the food, culture, and history of the city.
Oh, and the final word on Dishoom has to mention their really lovely charity initiative. They’ve long partnered with Magic Breakfast in the UK, and The Akshaya Patra Foundation in India, to donate a meal to a child at risk of hunger for every meal served in their restaurants. It’s their attempt to help break down barriers to nutrition, education, and social mobility by ensuring that these kids have access to a healthy meal, and to date they’ve donated a whopping 13 million meals to the two charities. So next time you settle in for a meal here, know that you’re doing some good in the world!