ON MONDAY 18TH MARCH, Chef Naved enjoyed a well-deserved break from the kitchen. For this one very unusual evening, his chef’s whites remained pristine and pressed in his locker. Instead of steeling himself for a hectic dinner shift, he felt pleasantly calm and relaxed. An almost holiday-ish feeling overtook him. With a contented smile, he wandered into Dishoom Manchester’s grand Dining Hall, settled into a delightfully rickety bentwood chair, admired his surroundings and waited.
The Dining Hall soon filled with the North’s finest chefs and restaurateurs, all eagerly awaiting Action Against Hunger’s much-anticipated annual charity event, Too Many Critics.
Ruth Allen (Manchester Wire) and Matt White (XS Manchester) heroically kicked off proceedings with Mancunian cheese toast and crispy paneer served with Kairi chutney.
For mains, Emily Heward (Manchester Evening News) and Louise Rhind-Tutt (ILoveManchester) took to the grill and served up tandoori prawns and saffron lamb chops, whilst Neil Sowerby (Taste of Manchester) and Simon Binns (LadBible) took care of the curry dishes with Keralan fish moilee and a roasted cauliflower and aubergine korma. And to end things on a sweet note, Bill Knott (The Financial Times) served a cardamom pannacotta.
The critics were also asked to curate a special beer cocktail for the night, partnering with a local brewery. This included a Mango Shandy using Northern Monk, a Spiced Vanilla Black using North Brewing Co, a Cosmic Butter Brew with JW Lees, a Mang-chester Sour using Shindigger’s Mango Unchained, Bhangra Beatnikz using Beatniks, and a Manchester Union Manhattan using Manchester Union Lager.
Winners were announced at the end of the evening following votes from diners and chefs, with Neil proudly taking the prize for Chef’s choice as well as cocktail creation, and Ruth picking up the people’s choice. Thanks to all patrons who supported this worthy cause! And shabash to all critic-chefs, for your hard work – and thank you, kindly, for giving Naved a night off!
For those wanting to taste at home, cocktail creation winner Neil Sowerby has kindly shared the recipe for his Bhangra Beatnikz.
15ml lime juice
10ml ginger syrup
15ml Kamm & Sons
25ml Plantation Pineapple
2 dash peach bitters
Beatniks IPA beer foam
1. Add the above ingredients (minus the beer foam) into a shaker
2. Shake, hard
3. Top with whipped beer foam
4. Sip with relish
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.