All of us, whatever our station, have our own struggles, our own share of rocks to navigate around. Sometimes, the seas are calm, often they are choppy. Years pass in a steady rhythm with their share of joy and laughter, of heartache and headache.
Diwali is a key part of that rhythm. We celebrate it all over India as the end of one year and the beginning of the next. In a narrative sense, it marks the triumph of good over evil, of light over darkness. For the Bengalis it’s all about the goddess Kali. For Jains, it’s the celebration of Mahavira, the great saint, attaining Nirvana. For Sikhs, it commemorates the release of kings who were held prisoner by the Emporer Jahangir in the 17th century. Many of us celebrate the return of King Rama to Ayodhya with Sita after defeating the evil Ravana.
Whichever narrative we remember, it is certainly a time of observing precious customs passed down the generations. A prayer in the morning brings family together as we light little diyas to drive out the darkness. To add colour to the light we dress up, set off fireworks and make beautiful powder rangolis. Eating mithai puts a lovely sweet taste in the mouth. We seek the blessings of our elders for happiness and prosperity for the coming new year. We visit extended family and friends to express our affection for them and keep bonds strong. It’s a lovely continuity and a Diwali without these customs couldn’t be called Diwali.
It’s also a time to reflect on the year past, which has inevitably been full of many shades of light and dark. We give thanks for all the good things and the good people in our lives. And we can look to the future with hope and excitement. If, reliably, every year, Rama can defeat Ravana, then surely we too can find small victories in our own lives over the coming year.
This is our first Diwali at Dishoom. We’re barely four months old (we can’t make up our minds whether it feels a lot longer or a lot shorter). It’s been extremely hard work – launching any business, particularly a restaurant, is a tough thing to do. There have been exhilarating moments, balanced by times when it seemed that we had embarked upon a completely foolish enterprise. And for whatever it is we have managed to achieve, we are grateful.
So, in that spirit, we wish you all the very best for the year past and the year coming. To the team, we are enormously grateful for your fantastic work. To our families, we truly appreciate the massive support (and we’re sincerely sorry for not being around as much as we should have been!) And to our guests, thank you so much for being great Dishoom-wallas and trusting us repeatedly to feed you and look after you.
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.