Dishoom Manchester opened its doors only months ago, and has since welcomed a host of Mancunians to the site.
Wandering off the wet streets of Manchester and into the warmth of Dishoom is a little like falling through time and space. With sumptuously exotic incense aromas drifting from the entrance and into the restaurant, it’s the tiny and coherent details dotted around this space which creates the illusion of the ageless and enduring – a comforting concept which Dishoom Manchester has achieved like fine art. With mid-20th century paintings scattered among the walls, Dishoom tells the story of the Irani Cafes and the beauty of 20th Century Bombay.
Taking our seats below a ‘Rules of the Café’ mural, (enlisting Dishoom Manchester laws such as ‘no dead blue reptiles to be hung around visitors’ necks’, ‘no poisons, magical drugs or fights between cobra and mongoose’, and ‘all are welcome’) we placed our drinks order of one pot of fresh mint tea, with spearmint steeper (which arrived served in a quaint, silver teapot) and India’s favourite beer, a bottle of Kingfisher.
Whilst browsing the menu, we picked at ‘Khichia and Chundo’, a crispy snack to dunk happily into spiced chutney, a warm fiery chili dip, and a coriander concoction.
A friendly and knowledgeable waiter talked us through the menu, making careful recommendations along the way. We opted for three dishes each, and they were all brought out as and when they were made.
To say that the food was divine would be an understatement.
We ordered three mains:
Chilli Chicken – a hot, flavoursome plate of crispy, succulent chicken; smothered in a happy marriage of garlic, ginger and soy.
4/5: Very, very tasty. The chicken could have been a little crispier… but I just really like my chicken crispy.
Mahi Tikka – (sustainable) basa fillet, cooked to a ‘not quite charred’ perfection and covered in a delicately flavoured yoghurt marinade.
5/5: Possibly the best fish I’ve tasted in Manchester for a long time, especially when paired with the other Dishoom dishes.
Murgh Malai – chicken thigh meat, which had been steeped overnight in a magical concoction of garlic, ginger, coriander stems and a little cream. Purposely served a little pink.
4/5: Hard to fault – just couldn’t get our heads around the pink chicken!
And a medley of sides:
House Black Daal – a Dishoom signature dish, and perhaps the star of the show. Dark, rich and deeply satisfying, this potion of lentil daal is cooked for over 24 hours for flawless texture – and worth every minute of meticulousness.
5/5: I loved this dish at first sight and there’s nothing I wouldn’t want to share with it; naan, rice, spinach, fish – House Black Daal can have it all.
A Bowl Of Greens – light, fresh and delectable, this was served as a bowl of grilled broccoli, snow peas and spinach, all tumbled with chilli and lime.
5/5: A vibrant dish that adds a splash of healthy colour to the table. Cooked this well (and al dente), what’s not to like?
Cheese Naan – not something we’d usually order, but we’re certainly glad we switched things up this time. Absolutely amazing dipped in the Black House Daal.
4/5: I wouldn’t say we’re fully converted to the Cheese Naan life forever, but we’d definitely re-order this at Dishoom Manchester.
Steamed Basmati Rice – steamy, light and fragrant; the perfect accompaniment to any of the above.
5/5: It’s hard to go wrong with rice, but this was definitely very nice.
As we came to the end of our dishes, the gloomy rain outside was yet to subside, so we opted to stay right where we were for a little longer. With too little room for dessert, we tried a cocktail each.
Since 1949, and to this very day, Bombay has been under a state of prohibition, however, a personal permit can be attained if one is to ‘require liquor for preservation and maintenance of health’. An exception to this is a special place which has come to be unofficially known as a ‘Permit Room’, where liquor can be sold and imbibed, but only for the goodness of one’s health. This is the story of inspiration behind Dishoom’s bar, which also goes by the same name.
For our final order, we opted for a ‘Meenakshi’s Mojito’, made up of amber-hued El Dorado rum and muddled with Ceylon Arrack, fresh mint, coconut milk, ginger, zesty lime, topped with a generous splash of soda. Cool, zingy and refreshing, the coconut milk in this tipple sets it apart from other mojitos.
Our other option was the ‘Monsoon Martini’, made with Catuai espresso, vivified with Black Cow Vodka, chili liqueur, black walnut bitters and crema. Rich and intense, with just a few sips this little number really hit the spot.
So, here’s to good health! And a very fabulous first year in Manchester.