London’s trendy Indian staple Dishoom, exploded onto Birmingham’s food scene a hairs breadth before the Pandemic in 2020.
Two years of rave reviews and consistently good media coverage later, Dishoom Birmingham is now set in stone as a place to go when looking for some cool Indian cuisine in the Second City.
With a recent push on the team’s Christmas menu, we were kindly invited to test out the festive food fayre and provide some feedback.
Upon entering Dishoom, you are instantly greeted by low lighting, belly warming fragrances and a friendly welcome. We were assigned a knowledgeable waiter for the evening who talked us through the menu.
Ryan showed us to our table, and my guest, former Yardbird owner Ollie Lloyd, was taken aback by the authentic 1960s Indian chic decor which now adorns this huge space, a space which replaced Madin’s 1970s brutalist concrete library not too long ago.
We bagan our Dishoom journey with a couple of cocktails which waited for us patiently on the Christmas menu. Mulled Bramble, which consisted of mulled wine, old tom gin, syrup lemmon – too good not to order twice – and a Marmalade Mimosa, married spumante and ruby grapefruit juice, with marmalade liqueur in a woozy way.
Our initial selection was from the Small Plates menu which is available all day.
Khichia & Chundo was recommended, a fine, crispy snack, not unlike papad which arrived with spiced chutney, apparently made to an old family recipe with dependable apple, not fickle mango. Ollie commented on how good these were as an alternative to poppadoms.
Ollie savoured the Bhel, cold and crunchy, puffed rice, peanuts and Bombay Mix tossed with fresh pomegranate, tomato, onion, lime, tamarind, mint. I’d tried this before at Dishoom and it seems Ollie was won over in equal measure.
My Prawn Koliwada was immensely satisfying and superior. Taken from Bombay’s Koli (fishermen) Wada (district) includes a bowl of delicate, crispy morsels of prawn, wrapped in a fiery succulent crispy coating. I find there is only so much you can do with a prawn.. but whatever Dishoom are doing here is an achievement in itself. Subtle, tender, with a heat that rubs your tastebuds gently leaving a rosy cheeks glow – or was that the Mulled Bramble?
If you can imagine the finest mutton, marinated in red chilli, ginger and garlic, then cooked with black peppercorns and whole spices, then you can imagine just how tender and rich this could be.
The timing of Ryan was perfect, he knew when to arrive and when not to hover, but always happy to offer his help with the menu with a professional approach.
Mains were mooted and we decided on Mutton Perry Fry from the all day menu, and Turkey Raan with all the trimmings off the Christmas Menu.
If you can imagine the finest mutton, marinated in red chilli, ginger and garlic, then cooked with black peppercorns and whole spices, then you can imagine just how tender and rich this could be. Ollie was keen to point out the quality. Accompanied with steamed basmati rice and garlic naan, it was impossible to leave alone.
On the opposite side of the table sat the whole turkey leg, prepared in the traditional Indian raan style, cooked slowly until meltingly tender, however, it was a touch dry and probably needed a little sauce or even gravy, for future reference. It was served with tenderstem broccoli, chilli sprouts and spiced cranberry chutney. The chilli sprouts with honey dressing and toasted hazzlenuts were good but perhaps a little too ‘al dente’ for my liking and there was a good portion to chomp through.
A slow build of heat came from each mouthfull of crunchy rich, turkey. The favour built, and built and did start to make me wonder, well, do you actually need any sauce with this? We both thought that this would make, THE most amazing kebab meat ever – literally! I think, perhaps the turkey itself was cooked to succulent perfection, but as the veg was bare on the plate something else is needed to aid the turkey consumption, especially for those who do not take a sip of drink with their food. The turkey, 10/10.. the broccoli was great too, just needs a tweak to marry the veg with the meat.
It is at this point I should mention the funky Sound Gallery style library tunes which dance through the air in step with the beautiful aromatic aromas which bathe the air in this hipster Indian joint.
To finish, we requested a Premier Padmini Negroni with Indian cocoa and sweet pears, soaked overnight in bitter Campari, vermouth and dry citrus gin with a chocolate garnish, oh, and a Dishoom India Pale Ale.. honestly, what a supreme experience in the heart of Brums new Paradise – paradise within Paradise we mused. The remainder of the turkey went into a goody bag for lunch the next day and it tasted just as good.
If you go for the Turkey and trimmings, order a bit of sauce and you’ll be in heaven or take it home and construct the world’s finest kebab ever! Regardless, order what the hell you want, it’s all chuffin’ amazing in my book – a festive treat without the annoyance of Noddy bloody holder.
Words by Nick Byng for Grapevine Birmingham.