Cold, rainy morning, not very long ago in a comfortable booth at Dishoom on St Martin’s Lane.
A motley crew of Dishoom-wallahs, mulling over ideas for Christmas.
ST: (staring intently at glass of Chai) I know I sound like a scratched Mohamed Rafi vinyl, but our Chai is rocking. There is no better Chai this side of Colaba Causeway. (That’s in Bombay. India. By the way.)
BT: (Wearing black hat and Wayfarers, inappropriately, for the setting is indoors) Can’t beat it. Drives away the blues, when you got dem blues…(pulls out sitar and breaks into a blues riff…)
All: (murmurs, wise nods of agreement)
CB: Ah yes. Drives away dem blues….like a bottle of the good stuff….
ST: OMG. LOL. That’s it!
ST: Yaar. That’s totally what we should do for Christmas. The only thing better than our Chai, would be our Chai….with benefits.
BT: (eyebrow raised) Like, pimp my Chai?
ST: Well yeah, but more like naughty chai. Sexed up Chai. You know.
CB: Hmm. It’s gonna have to have a bit of a kick for it to be Christmassy.
BT: Or… how about Bailey’s and Chai…
CB: How about Chai with Dark Chocolate Syrup, chocolate shavings, a little Bourbon, cream.
All: (sharp intake of breath, followed by glances of admiration)
BT: I love it when a plan comes together (chomps cigar…)
And so it came to pass that the Yuletide season brought forth our naughty Chais.
That very same evening, the hot bar-wallahs took a few drams of good stuff (Bourbon, Rum, Cognac) and stuck them in Dishoom Chai. And they saw that it was good and it pleased them.
They dare you not to be tempted by Naughty Chocolate Chai – with dark chocolate liqueur, chocolate shavings, Bourbon and Chai.
And Bailey’s Chai is an outrageous treat. Warm, luxurious, and topped with a layer of fresh cream.
Or Chai Egg Nog – as festive as it gets. With Hennessy VS and dusted with nutmeg and cinnamon.
It’s like a warm hug from a familiar friend. Who you suddenly realise is really pretty sexy. (So then, naturally, you’ll want another one.)
And if for any reason you don’t fancy a Naughty Chai (Hello? Anyone?!?), you can also keep out the chill in the air with a gorgeous Winter Pimm’s, served warm with Calvados and cloudy apple juice, gently spiced. Or sip on our Desi Mulled Wine, infused with cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and black pepper.
Try them. They’re outrageously good. Seriously, if your Christmas isn’t merry after these naughty Dishoom treats, we’ll eat our slightly old and dirty Indian Christmas party hats.
Available from 14th November.
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.
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.