BOMBAY, 1949. A sultry June evening. Lights glow golden. Candles flicker in the warm breeze that arrives gently through the large open windows of the café.
I watch, entranced, as Ruby brings the last bars of her song to a wistful close. Cheers erupt from the audience. She stands at the microphone, grins bashfully. Her sari, draped and perfumed, is bottle-green and gold. The glamorous of Bombay, members of the band, old friends, wayward sailors all clap and shout their praise. She bows slightly.
These are the last few days, the dregs of 2019. It’s my habit to sit here in the Permit Room at this time. I am the be-stubbled and dishevelled regular, cherishing his precious drink at the end of the bar. Weary, I sit here pondering the year, attempting to figure out what it was trying to teach me. What wisdom can I glean from it?
I love to truly understand and appreciate the origins of a dish, and learn how communities have adapted a recipe over time to make that dish unique to them.
We have arrived at a very sad, but inevitable and clear choice. As of now, all Dishooms are now closed to diners.
When we create a Dishoom, we always imagine it as an Irani café deeply rooted in an aspect of Bombay history. We then sit down and write a story – a different founding myth – which guides every single detail of that space.
These past months have brought strangeness and uncertainty for so many of us. Since we shut the doors of our restaurants in March, we haven’t felt like ourselves at all. The very point of Dishoom is to welcome you through our doors and to serve you the most delicious food and drink we can summon up in the warmest possible way.
Crisp and organised, Roda Irani leads her daughter through the narrow gullies of Swadeshi Market. “Come, let us get to the café.”
Its not often you get the chance to make 1 + 1 = 3, but if you ever do - you should grab it with both hands. Because these are the moments you will remember, the ones you will cherish, the ones that makes it all worthwhile.
Under a canopy of stars and lights, we welcomed our biggest-ever line-up of exceptional South Asian talent to Dinerama for our Diwali celebrations.
We’re delighted to be partnering with the brilliant HOME on their ‘Not Just Bollywood’ film season as a part of their year-long programme ‘Celebrating Women in Global Cinema’. The season runs from Wednesday 11th September – Wednesday 2nd October, 2019 and champions women filmmakers...
“Long years ago, we made a tryst with destiny; and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom...
Not long ago, a team of enterprising and energetic Dishoom chef-wallas sauntered into the kitchen and put their heads together. They were musing over how to make breakfast bigger, better, more exciting, more delicious for all.
On Monday 18th March, Chef Naved enjoyed a well-deserved break from the kitchen. For this one very unusual evening, his chef’s whites remained pristine and pressed in his locker.
That the Bombay Prohibition Act of 1949 has never been repealed is a lovely Bombay peculiarity. This piece of legislation states that officials must issue permits for alcohol, and even then only in emergency cases.
6th September, 2018 will be marked in Indian history as the day when love won. At 11:30am, the Supreme Court scrapped Section 377 – the notorious law that criminalised homosexuality.
It is a hazy November morning and it is already warm. The roads are thronged with bullock carts, cycles and pedestrians.
In July, four Dishoom-wallas went to Maine to visit the Seeds of Peace summer camp. We’ve been working with this amazing charity for three years now, and this was an opportunity for us to learn more...
For us and many of our team members, Eid is a really happy, special day; a day where people come together with friends and family and celebrate joyfully with food – lots and lots of food!
Bhawani Singh Shekhawat is the CEO of Akshaya Patra – an extraordinarily brilliant charity that we first linked up with during Ramadan in 2015. At Diwali the same year, we made the partnership permanent.
In September 2017, we met top musician, composer and all-round cool cat, Dom James. Countless late-night jazz sessions later, Dom went on to curate the rather excellent music for our one-off, immersive theatre production – ‘Night at the Bombay Roxy‘.
Inevitably, I’m here again in the Permit Room. This time in Dishoom in Kensington. Wondering whether it’s still 1940s Bombay in here.
Cheer-filled carol singing, mince pies, roasted chestnuts, mulled wine and Dishoom House Chai... a proper Christmas carolling.
The very clever and extremely talented guys from Swamp have been scouring all of London (and beyond) for the best and most talented individuals to bring to life our one-off immersive theatre production Night at the Bombay Roxy.
It is a close and heavy monsoon night on Marine Lines. Despite the weather, there is a jostling of people outside the Bombay Roxy.
Fear; we’ve all felt it. Fear for ourselves, fear for others, fear for the future. It’s a really powerful and unsettling feeling.
Vaisakhi, a day marked across India by people of many faiths, is celebrated in the Punjab as the start of the new Harvest. It falls on the 13th or 14th April depending on the calendar for that year.
Last week, a motley gang of Dishoom-wallas found themselves at a glitzy awards do in Battersea, feeling a bit like Peter Sellers at The Party with our slightly-too-tight tuxedos, five’o’clock shadows and squeaky shoes.
In spring 2016, two thousand of you joined us for our biggest and best Holi celebrations yet. We all partied together with open hearts, and open minds – it was wonderful to be part of it.
YOU WILL NOT BE SURPRISED to learn, dear reader, that December’s fuggy cloud of tiredness is driving me once again to seek answers here in the Permit Room.
2016 was a busy year – but an oh-so-very brilliant one in our Dishoom world! Here’s a little look at what we got up to…
Where it stands says so much about a café. Built to hug Bombay’s busiest street corners, iconic restaurants still left gracing a few such prime plots were once considered inauspicious by superstitious sections of the Hindu community.
Magic Breakfast is a charity with one objective – to make sure no child starts their school day too hungry to learn.
We have always loved sharing the magic of Diwali with our friends and families.
BOMBAY, MARCH 1923. Botanist, ecologist, and all-round man of the people Patrick Geddes reclines on a long-armed rattan chair.
Lord Ganesh sits quietly at the entrance of every Dishoom. The guardian of the door to Parvati’s bath, our much-loved Hindu deity is as brave as he is kind.
It’s a funny thing, hunger, isn’t it? Not the everyday hunger that most of us feel before mealtimes, but real, gnawing, empty-bellied hunger.
In Dishoom King’s Cross, we pay homage to a particularly special, pioneering woman whose aim was to capture the world through her camera so that important moments in history might always be remembered and preserved.
Each year, the spring equinox – when day and night are equal length – marks a transition in earth’s relationship with the sun.
Once again, dear reader, I’m back here. I am the weary, be-stubbled regular propping up one end of the bar in the Permit Room at the same time every year. I have a burra peg of something stiff at my elbow.
Personally I have always loved piecing together music. Segue-ing tracks or styles together, or juxtaposing different sounds to create something that feels exciting, or surprising. I started doing it in my early teens.
Our research for Dishoom Carnaby took us down many unexpected avenues. We started to investigate the world of rock’n’roll Bombay in the ’60s and made lots of new friends.
November. 1967. Heathrow airport. A young man leans against the Oceanic terminal’s high windows, waiting for the final call for BOAC flight 774 to Bombay.
When we began thinking about Dishoom Carnaby, we came across a surprising relationship that flourished in the 1960s, when Western influences kicked off a rocking music scene in Bombay.
On the window of Dishoom King’s Cross, we painted the iconic and resounding words of the great Rabindranath Tagore
On sunny Saturday 4th July 2015, The Crossing (inside the atrium of the Granary Building at King’s Cross) became an oasis of calm.
Compassion. Generosity. Discipline. Honesty. Selflessness. Tolerance. These principles lie at the heart of Islam. Our Muslim brothers and sisters are bound to give, share and take care of others
In March, Lewis Cubitt Square in King’s Cross became the stage for our biggest Holi celebration yet! For the first time, we decided to the take the fun outside and despite the slightly imperfect weather conditions, it was totally, utterly brilliant.
Back here again. A burra peg of Horniman’s Old Fashioned at my elbow.
NOT SO LONG AGO we were wondering to ourselves: “What might have happened if a young Irani had set up a café in a Godown (warehouse) behind Bombay’s Victoria Terminus, C. 1928?”
One January morning in 1928, a young Irani – not long arrived in Bombay – was waiting to collect a parcel at Victoria Terminus. Unusually, the train was running late...
Naved has even kindly shared his own recipe for the Chilli Garlic Crab, so – if you can’t make it to in to see us – at least you can share in our celebrations at home!
An old Irani gentleman and his granddaughter sit in the shade of his café, underneath the least erratic fan. The little girl turns to her grandfather with a quizzical look on her face, and asks him a question
As a young girl with Indian roots, growing up in nineties Britain wasn’t actually too bad.
Cast your sins into the fire. Throw colours with random strangers, and random abandon. Laugh freely and joyously. Dance. Laugh again.
About this time every year I do the exact same thing. I sit in the Permit Room, a Viceroy’s Old Fashioned at my elbow, and think about the year gone by. All that’s happened and not happened.
There are some things in life so perfectly matched – such winning combinations – that you wonder quite what anyone did before they came along...
In September 2013, at Dishoom Shoreditch, we’re hosting a ‘cabinet of curiosity’ curated by This is Provenance as part of the London Design Festival.
The festival of Eid al-Fitr (literally “the Celebration of the Breaking of the Fast”) marks the conclusion of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month where restraint and discipline must be practised.
Imagine a summer afternoon, unusually sunny; hot, humid and expectant, like Bombay just before the monsoon. The kind of day that might make Londoners stop in their tracks.
From the moment we arrive, we accumulate our own layers of stories and experiences, remembered events and remembered emotions.
A glorious, exuberant, colourful, joy-filled mess. Everyone from the tiniest little children to the most elderly aunty-jis had a fantastic time.
The story goes that the dish can be traced to Alexander the Great.
Martyrs’ Day marks the anniversary of the day Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (fondly known to many as Bapu) was shot down by Nathuram Godse.
2012 strikes us as a year of contradictions. Yes, it was another year of economic turmoil, of grim declarations from a glum Chancellor about “austerity measures” and “belt-tightening”.
Chilli. Mexican. Or maybe Tex-Mex. Not really Bombay, or indeed Indian, at all.
Amber skies, street lights with their haloes, electric signs, and bonfires with their candle flames and smell of cinnamon.
Bombay. This magnificent yet (at times) mad “maximum city” is heaving with people of all backgrounds, races and religions.
Locations made familiar in Bollywood films, Victoria carriages, a melting pot of communities… and for the days I felt homesick I had Wembley, Southall and Brick Lane.
One day, an eccentric old Irani Café (born circa 1930, Bombay), creaking slightly at the seams, made the long trip from Bombay in 1970 to London in 2012. Tired from the long journey, it shuffled into an empty space in Shoreditch and made itself comfortable.
Siblings can be frustrating, can’t they? Know-it-all elder sisters. Pesky little brothers, bullying big ones.
Last week, millions of Muslims around the world embarked on the month-long cycle of fasting, prayer and reflection that is Ramadan – the holiest month of the Islamic calendar.
Brian (still daydreaming of his recent, inaugural visit to Bombay): “You know what we need to really crack a Bombay Breakfast? Akuri. Oh man, that scrambled egg stuff made my stomach sit up and sing.
Wow. Thums Up. It’s kind of a Bombay institution, isn’t it? It’s one of those glorious things that never fails to sweep us back in time and conjure up treasured childhood memories of the homeland.
BURA NA MANO, HOLI HAI!
Everything seems just a bit different over the last twelve months. There’s a chill in the air somehow.
Christmas Turkey. Now be honest. Does the thought of it fill you with excitement? Does it make your taste buds stand to attention?
Cold, rainy morning, not very long ago in a comfortable booth at Dishoom on St Martin’s Lane.
Diwali draws near again, and with it fireworks, colour and celebrations.
‘What if an old Bombay Café were to take a gentle stroll down to Chowpatty Beach in about 1965 and drop a mild acid tab?’
A time for reflection
Tomorrow is the anniversary of India's independence
A full year has snuck by since we opened up our slightly too small doors to welcome you all in.
On the Southbank (May 13th – Oct 4th 2011)
A cocktail inspired by the legendary Cornershop
Exclusive Sunday listening booth 3-5PM, 13th March 2011
A design can also tell a story
Falls on the 26th January
A poem by Joe Winter
2010 was the year that we finally expressed our affection for the disappearing Irani cafés.
Our first Diwali at Dishoom
A thought. A conversation. A reality.
A literary destination for Indians and tourists
Every Bombayite knows Bademiya
A lot has happened between these walls