Question: What is a typical English dish I must eat when I visit London? Answer: Curry!
This actually happened. Just like you, I was expecting to hear fish and chips, afternoon tea or Sunday roast. If you live in London then you will agree that Indian food has been well accepted into the English culture with the ready meal trend introducing Indian inspired meals, Indian restaurants popping up everywhere and Brick Lane maintaining their reputation as the one stop shop to Indian food. You can, therefore, understand my shock when an old friend told me she had never tasted Indian food. I thought if the famous curry is being categorised as a traditional English meal, how has she managed to walk past the aroma of masala chips, lamb samosas and biryani and never tasted it.
What makes Indian cuisine unique is its wide variety of dishes influenced by different cultures, religion, ethnic groups and even climate. Over the years, Indian cuisine has evolved tremendously as more interaction with foreign societies became inevitable through trade relations, foreign invasions and colonialism. I recently learnt that Indian Gujuratis who are predominantly Hindus and Jains and do not eat meat have their cuisine dubbed as “the haute cuisine of vegetarianism”. I also learnt that areas like Goa in India added enormously to Indian cuisine as the historic Portuguese invasion to that part of the world led to the introduction of potatoes. Potatoes is now a common ingredient in most Indian meals.
Over recent years, many Indian restaurants in London have adjusted the taste of their meals by reducing the punch of hot pepper spice to suit the global palates without losing the traditional taste.
Dishoom (Kings Cross) was the lucky pick for our Indian Tasting Session. Holding a 4.5 trip advisor star rating, this London located, Bombay inspired restaurant represented the more modern yet authentic Indian restaurant.
The first time I had Indian food in London was in a 5 star Indian restaurant with my father and sister in Gloucester Road. It was the spiciest meal we had ever tasted and yet we emptied our plates crying all the way through.
That’s the best way I could describe to Yolande, my dear friend, what she was about to experience, I must admit I secretly enjoyed watching the terror on her face.
Tastewithprinny: What do you think about the venue.
Yolande: I love it, the atmosphere and ambiance has eliminated any prejudice I had. I love the Rustic, industrial, Victorian feel and vintage interior. A lot of thought went into the style. It is a perfect blend of London and Bombay without one overshadowing the other.
What Yolande did not know is that she was about to eat in a restored Victorian railway shed built in 1850. There was an amazing feel of being in two places at a time, one moment I knew I was in London, the next moment I was convinced I had been transported to Bombay. There was such a strong connection with the history of this London gem and the pride that oozed from the art pieces, furniture and members of staff was worth experiencing.
Tastewithprinny: What are your expectations?
Yolande: I am looking forward to the menu, I think it will be exciting. I expect quality food, with a place like this I would hope for nothing less.
The menu was so detailed and yet easy to visualise with words like “soft handkerchief thin bread.” Talk about making my work easy. For drinks, we settled on the “Bhang Lassi” and “Mango Lassi” both made from fresh shredded mint, yoghurt and fennel sprinkles with the mango lassi mixed with mango pulp.
Tastewithprinny: Yay or Nay to Lassis?
Yolande: “nyay” I am still not sure what I think, I think it might be too many tastes in one. I don’t think I’m a big fan of this creamy texture the yoghurt gives it but I keep looking forward to the sweet mango taste it leaves on my tongue.
Tastewithprinny: I loved the Bhang Lassi, the subtle mint that blended very well with the yoghurt was definitely first class.
Mains: We had the garlic and cheese naan, Chicken Ruby which was a spicy curry sauce with tender chicken, plain basmati rice and sheekh kabab (grilled minced lamb marinated with lime and coriander).
I am shocked at how moist the sheekh kabab was considering how dry it looks on the outside. Hot and spicy and yet still bearable; that’s what I love about it. The rich golden colour of the chicken ruby is unique and balances the dry basmati rice. The strong smell of spice takes me to a noisy market in Bombay. I feel the bread is overdone and the Garlic and cheese flavours do not stand out.
Dessert: We went for a simple dessert as we no longer had enough store houses in our stomach. We chose “Kulfi on a stick”, sweet creamy in mango and malai flavours, perfect!
Tastewithprinny: Yay or Nay to dessert?
Yolande: Definitely a Yay! It tastes like a combination of ice-cream, condensed milk and butterscotch all in one. I wish I could take them home.
I hope you have learnt a thing or two about Indian cuisine from someone who had never experienced it. Yolande is determined to have more Indian inspired tastings and she will definitely be going back to Dishoom.