It is one of India’s three major national holidays and has much resonance.
It marks the passing into law on 26th January 1950 of India’s constitution, and marks the date when India became a proper sovereign state. It is effectively modern India’s birthday. The date itself was chosen in honour of the generation who fought for freedom – ever since 1930 the Indian National Congress had celebrated 26th January, often in secrecy and always at great risk to themselves, as the date of Swaraj (our word for self-rule and independence). It’s a date that has a huge resonance.
It affirms the dream of independence, celebrates the diversity and vibrancy of India; and offers an opportunity for all Indians and for the world to get a glimpse of the real India. Its importance lies in its recognition that the great experiment, the great gamble of trying to stitch together a functioning, if messy and chaotic, democracy out of a multitude of contradictions requires dedication to an idea of India that is proud, secular and rooted in the values of Gandhi, Nehru, and Ambedkar, who drafted the constitution. Indians celebrate it and are humbled by the memory of those who fought for our freedom and who continue to sacrifice themselves in that hard won freedom’s defence.
Indians outside India, particularly those who may be a couple of generations removed, have an interesting relationship with India. India can be about sentiments and emotions, affirmed and celebrated through the heritage of religion and culture. It is mostly religious festivals that are celebrated, rather than the achievements of India as a nation-state. These achievements – among them, the very survival of India – are massive and important.
In a way, Dishoom is an exercise in going beyond just the religious and cultural rituals, the stereotypical images of India that we all may be familiar with. We’re celebrating the vibrancy and richness of everyday India, an urban India, that may be crazy and chaotic and for some a fight for survival, but is ultimately a celebration of the vivaciousness of India – its enormous irrepressible spirit.
Republic Day is a great day – and it should not be just about the flag raising ceremonies that take place in the Indian High Commissions and embassies around the world. It should be an inspiring day, a day to reflect on India’s achievement over the last half-century. Long may it continue.
We began working with Magic Breakfast in 2015, supporting them in their goal of ending hunger as a barrier to education in the UK. Over the years, we’ve developed lasting and loyal friendships with the incredible team and their partner schools. This month, we celebrate reaching the milestone of donating 10 million meals to hungry children in partnership with Magic Breakfast and Akshaya Patra. Magic Breakfast’s Head of Schools, Rachael Anderson, has kindly taken the time to reflect on the last six years of our work together, as well as sharing her thoughts on the profound impact the past twelve months have had.
Since 2015, for every Dishoom meal you’ve enjoyed (whether in the cafés, via delivery, or as a meal kit), we’ve donated a meal to a child that might otherwise go hungry. A meal for a meal. This month, as we reached the milestone of donating 10 million meals, we had occasion to catch up with our dear friends and long-term charity partners, Magic Breakfast and Akshaya Patra. The work both charities do to end hunger as a barrier to education is simply incredible and we’re extremely proud to be able to support them and the communities they serve in the UK and India, respectively. We kindly invite you to take a moment to hear their reflections on our partnership and on the impact of the very important work they do.
Uttapam are a fluffy savoury dosa, made with rice. They're usually enjoyed with savoury toppings but we particularly like ours with lashings of jaggery syrup and a thick, strained yoghurt. Chef Naved has shared his recipe for making an extra fluffy stack at home.
Our Old-Fashioned bottled cocktail takes its name from the Permit Room bar, found in every Dishoom and so named after the official term for all Bombay drinking establishments, in which, according to the Bombay Prohibition Act of 1949, only permit-holders may consume alcohol. Herein, liquor can be sold and imbibed, but only for the goodness of one’s health.
Though the doors of the Permit Room are closed for now, you can still enjoy our tipples in bottled form at home. Follow our lead to achieve the perfect pour, and transport yourself back to a cosy corner of the bar.