London is perhaps one of the most popular hotspots for gastronomic adventurers. Cafés and eateries found at every corners, each having their own unique sense of style influenced by the diverse culture of the English capital.
So what adventure awaits you today?
Today you decide to embrace the multicultural food scene by dining at a Bombay-style restaurant about a 5 minutes’ walk from Covent Garden tube station. You exit the station and without any hesitation, steer your way towards the direction of the restaurant. Halfway there, you hear whispers in the air and begin to hasten your pace as clouds start to blanket the blue sky. You know it’s going to be a good day when you finally reach your destination.
Not only were you greeted with the name ‘Dishoom’ printed boldly above the tall glass window but you are also met with a queue in the waiting area. Rain starts to drizzle down as soon as you join the queue. You recall being told about the no booking policy of the restaurant and reassure yourself that the wait will all be worth it.
As you wait in line, you hear the soft pitter-pattering on the pavement of Upper St Martin’s Lane as raindrops fall like letters in a love song invoking a sense of calm and serenity – a rare sentiment in the busy city of London. Your cheeks tingle as a small gust of cold air brushes your skin with your heart fluttering with excitement as you stood patiently waiting…
Finally, it’s your turn!
The interior has a contemporary feel, but yet, is reminiscent of a period almost forgotten with vintage portraits hanging on the exposed brick walls painted over with a faint tint of lustre blue. The pendant lights hanging on the ceiling illuminates the place just enough to provide emphasis on the vintage feel in the room and giving somewhat of a shine on the carefully placed wooden panels around the restaurant’s wall. Your admiration halts to a standstill as the hostess hands you a small device that would beep once your table is ready. She guides you to the downstairs dining area and requests you to wait at the bar area.
Moments later, beep goes the pager. Finally.
A waiter approaches you and guides you to your seat. With the menu resting in your hand, you confirm with the waiter that only the chicken and lamb dishes are Halal for assurance. The menu looks endless as you scan it through from top to bottom and finally decide to order the Okra Fries, Awadhi Lamb Biryani and a glass of Bhang Lassi-without the hemp and rum.
The wait is not as long as you expect as the waiter brings out your order and presents them in front of you. Without hesitation, you take a sip of the cold lassi.
The balance of flavours envelope your taste buds in sweet harmony
From the freshness of the chopped mint leaves paired with the aromatic scent of coconut milk to the hint of sweetness from the candied fennels as well as the slight kick from the fresh ginger blend leaves you wanting more.
You decide to move on to the okra fries –a good take on the traditional fries from the starchy potato family. The fried okra has a dry and crisp texture as you pick one up with your fingers. Your teeth are met with its crunchy exterior but surprisingly moist interior as you bite into the vegetable releasing all the exquisite flavour of different spices and its saltiness waters your mouth even more. You are now ready for the main course: the Awadhi Lamb Biryani.
The biryani dish is served in a black clay pot with a handle on its side. You can see the steam rising from the dish as you bury your fork into the bed of saffron coloured slow cooked rice. The rice seem to have soaked in all the flavours of the spices as it was cooked in the traditional ‘dum’ style giving it a silky taste and a fluffy texture. The lamb is rich in flavours with a refined texture as the meat melts in your mouth like an icy sculpture left outside on a hot summer’s day. The fluffy rice being paired with the juicy spiced lamb pieces is definitely the show stealer of the day.
Would you come back?
Rifhan Ideris is a freelance writer for Muslyfe. He believes in finding simple inspiration in the littlest things.