Chilli. Mexican. Or maybe Tex-Mex. Not really Bombay, or indeed Indian, at all. So when we were first asked to take part in the UK “Chilli Standoff“, which took place last Saturday 17th November, we had to put our (slightly dirty and dog-eared) thinking topis on. But we quickly decided it looked such damn good fun that we simply had to be the Pete Sellers at this particular party.
And so, Chef Naved set to work in the kitchen. A bit of keema here, a few rajma there… liberal amounts of spices, onions, fresh lime, garlic, ginger… and as it turns out, it wasn’t such a leap of faith after all. Served with a sprinkle of crispy fried onions, a twist of lime, fried green mirchi and some toasted, buttered pau bun, it wouldn’t have felt out of place on our menu at all.
In the end – we came third. A podium finish! Not quite the first place we were hoping for, but against such food legends as Lucky Chip (1st) – with their slow-cooked chilli with bone marrow and vanilla butter – and Will Yates‘ (2nd) complex rare-breed chilli (stalwart Will was undaunted by a potentially broken hand), third place was a proud achievement. (We were just a touch sad that Salim did not get to do his victory dance.) And even before the results were announced, it was already a first-class day out, in the company of some of the best names in the food business (Gizzi Erskine, Angela Harnett, Tom Parker-Bowles…). All proceedings were helped along by plenty of ale (from Texas – or Hackney), a chota-peg of tequila, chocolate-chilli gelato, and a meringue s“kiss”.
(A great – and somewhat more objective! – write-up of the event can be found here.)
And really – what could we have called it, but Slumdog Chillionaire? For anyone that’s still hankering after it – you can recreate it at home. And we may even serve it up as a special one day soon.
DISHOOM’S “PODIUM” SLUMDOG CHILLIONAIRE RECIPE
Ingredients & Quantity
Bay leaves 1
Chopped onions 200g
Chopped tomato 400g
Garlic puree/minced garlic 30g
Ginger puree/grated ginger 20g
Salt ½ tsp
Coriander powder 1 ½ tsp
Cumin powder ½ tsp
Deggi mirch (red chilli powder) 1 ½ tsp
Turmeric powder 9gm
Rajma (dried kidney beans) 200g
Cooked Lamb Boti Kabab, chopped 300g
Fresh coriander, chopped Handful
Lime 1, in wedges
Crispy fried onions 4 tbsp
We used this as the meat in our Slumdog Chillionaire – but it’s very good indeed on its own, straight from the grill.
Ingredients & Quantity
Lamb leg, boneless steak, cubed 500g
Ginger paste 25g
Garlic paste 15g
Deggi mirch (red chilli powder) 1/2 tsp
Ginger juice 5ml
Lime juice 15ml
Greek yogurt 250ml
Garam masala powder 15g
Red chilli powder 5g
Coriander stalks, finely chopped 25g
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.