2010 was the year we said hello to the newly coalescing Head Boys, Cameron and Clegg. We said goodbye to a tired looking, bags-under-his-eyes Mr. Brown. We had an earthquake in Haiti, the shadow of a large Icelandic ash cloud covering Western Europe and terrible floods in Pakistan. Big Brother ended and little brother, Ed Miliband began (is there a third brother, a Joker called Steve?) The Chilean miners left their mine and Billy Windsor asked Cathy to tie the knot (bless them!). The Mad boys loved Joan(’s curves), and the Mad girls swooned over Don. It was the year of Wagner (who may or may not recognise a Valkyrie if it rode on him), the year of the very social Mr. Zuckerberg, the year of the leaky (allegedly doubly so) Mr. Assange, and the year of Twitter.
Back in the homeland, it was the year of the Delhi Commonwealth Games (with a just a touch of masala eggs on faces) and the year of IPL sleaze. We got to know the charming young Mr. Rahul Gandhi a bit better and India maintained speed in its one-way, headlong rush to modernity. Bombay become ever more frenetic. Economic progress and political scandal continued to be cheerfully energetic bed-fellows.
We said hello to some new favourite places. There was Koya in Soho and Caravan in Exmouth Market (February seems an age ago, doesn’t it?) We loved Les Deux Salons and lusted Hawksmoor Seven Dials. Kopapa earned our affections too (thank you to the great Mr. Gordon), just in the last two weeks. We were proud to be living in London.
2010 was also the year that we finally expressed our affection for the disappearing Irani Cafés, and tried to bring their Bombay café culture to London. We began striving to serve you a proper cup of Chai in Covent Garden (Cognac optional…!). We created a Berry Biryani in homage to the good Mr. Kohinoor of Britannia Café, grills like those at Bademiya and Pau Bhaji (which might remind you of the stuff on Chowpatty Beach). It was the year we made many friends on Facebook and Twitter, and many more within our four(ish) walls. It was the year many of you became loyal Dishoom-wallas – a sincere and heartfelt thank you!
We’re truly grateful to Mr. Dimond over at Time Out for four shiny stars even though he pointed out that our Biryani was coming out a bit dry. In fact, we were aghast at his feedback, and very earnestly convened a series of tastings and audits until it was properly moist again. It was a pleasure to transport him back to Bombay and make his top 3 openings of 2010. And we appreciate him coming back and noticing the improvements we kept making to the food.
To Ms Williams, Ms O’Loughlin and Ms Maschler of The Telegraph, The Metro and The Evening Standard, we say a gushy thank you for your praise. In fact, we’d never seen the word ‘gawjuss’ spelt that way until we saw Ms. O’Loughlin’s description of our bacon naan roll. We were very emotional the morning we read that. To the good Mr. Rayner of the Observer, we say thank you too (especially for saying our lamb chops were ‘very good indeed’), and we’d love to have you back. We were humbled by the awards granted to us by the London Restaurant Festival and by Restaurant Magazine, and by being a runner-up in the Time Out design category. And to the many food bloggers who risked their stomachs and their wallets, we’re grateful you came. You said so many nice things – and even when you occasionally didn’t, it was really useful. We read every single word.
We also have to say that our team this year have been stars. You all have big hearts and a lot of patience and put up with us very sweetly. Thank you!
Finally, of course, nothing happens without the unflinching support of our families. Your love is critical to anything we do, and is all the more appreciated given our exaggerated focus on chai and Pau Bhaji this year.
And why the picture of our Ganesh above this post? Well, he’s the deity we invoke whenever we start something new or if we’d like to have oncoming obstacles diminished.
Goodbye 2010. Hello 2011. May Ganeshji make all of your new beginnings great and your obstacles a little smaller!
IT HAS BEEN an annual December habit of mine, these past ten years since we embarked upon this restaurant business, to sit alone, with myself, and reflect on the year gone by. I am grateful to be here in the Permit Room in our restaurant in Shoreditch scribbling and writing, the oddly enjoyable taste of splintering wood from my chewed up pencil smoothed by my decently strong drink.
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.