It is a close and heavy monsoon night on Marine Lines. Despite the weather, there is a jostling of people outside the Bombay Roxy. Well-turned-out gentlemen and flirty-eyed women clad in Banarasi silk saris all crane to catch a glimpse of Bombay’s finest musicians. The heavy doors to the club swing open and closed. Hot jazz spills out into the street.
The club didn’t always have this pull or indeed its current reputation. It is housed within a former cinema. The previous owner’s savings had been frittered away on the floors of marble, panelling of Burmese teak and four large chandeliers. It had been a beautiful but bankrupting experiment in Art Deco extravagance.
Under new management, it is café by day and club by night. The fortunes of the Bombay Roxy have been turned around, and now it shines brightly where darkness once stood. Bombay society comes here, to see and be seen. Local hustlers try to get the better of American card-sharks. Wealthy men of industry eye up coquettish women in cholis that expose more of their midriffs than strictly considered decent. A moustachioed Maharaja with an accent polished at Harrow or Eton exchanges pleasantries with several glamorous ladies who have perfected the art of looking beautifully bored.
The building has become a hot-tempered, noisy beast in the city’s belly, roaring through the night until the sun rises.
The man behind this reinvention is the charismatic Cyrus Irani. His name was once synonymous with Bombay’s racketeers, with murky allegiances, and with police escorts to Arthur Road Jail. Now no longer a jailbird, Cyrus fully intends to put the Bombay underworld behind him. And his new venture, the Bombay Roxy, might just be his redemption.
[Enter CYRUS IRANI.]
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.