I have a penchant for eating Indian cuisine. In fact, I often find that I have withdrawal symptoms or start to feel sick if I don’t eat it for 3/4 days. Crazy, I know! But I feel that my body is just accustomed to the deliciousness that is Indian food. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that I also love going to Indian restaurants. I mean I wouldn’t want to deprive myself now would I? 😉
Located in the ever-popular Wardour Street, Soho is Dum London a new Indian restaurant, as the name suggests, specialising in biryani. Biryani is a crowd-favourite of India and beyond, notoriously known as a feast of marinated meat (usually lamb or chicken) sandwiched between layers of basmati rice, blended together with vegetables and an array of spices. The cooking pot is sealed with dough and cooked on ‘dum’ (steamed over coals) to really bring out the flavour.
As I walked through the front door I was greeted by a lady sitting by a staircase on a laptop, albeit slightly strange but this wasn’t going to deter me away! She checked our reservation before ushering us downstairs. The restaurant itself is small and cosy as anticipated. Pop-arts of amusing Hindi sayings are sprawled across the wall with an aroma of good food filling the air. To drink there are quintessential Indian classics such as Limca and Thumbs Up (Indian version of coke). I, for one, was thrilled to see Thumbs Up on the menu, especially after my recent overindulgence of it in India. For anyone who hasn’t tried it, make sure you do – I prefer it to Pepsi!
Whilst here, I had the pleasure of meeting head chef Jasbir Singh Ujjainwal. Originally hailing from Delhi, Jasbir moved to London when his father, also a chef, got offered a job at St. James’ Court Hotel. Growing up watching his father create culinary delights inspired Jasbir to follow in his footsteps and start his career at Tamarind under the famous Atul Kochhar. This led to him working at Michelin-starred Banaras for around 8 years, before taking on positions at Carom (Soho, now closed), The Bluebird (Chelsea), Madison’s (St Pauls), and Chop House (London Bridge). Impressive, I know! But with this much experience it led me to question ‘Why just biryani?’. And the answer was simple. Jasbir stated that it’s very difficult to find a good authentic biryani in London (and I agree!), especially like how one is made in India. (Is anyone else having a flashback of that old song by Alisha Chinai?) Thus, he only offers a limited to menu to ensure that the focus primarily remains on them.
For starters, we ordered the Dahi Kebab, Kodi Vepudu (chicken wings) and Mutton Fry. I’m not a fan of yogurt but was intrigued on how it could be fried and served as a kebab. They had a strong distinct taste and I could only eat one, however my brother, who is a yogurt fan, enjoyed them. The Mutton Fry was quite pleasant, tender chunks of marinated mutton served with soft and flaky parathas. And then there were the Kodi Vepudu…two words – oh my! Chicken wings tossed in a hot and sour masala that undeniably left me wanting more, so much more that I ordered another portion!! We enjoyed these immensely; the wings were spiced well and cooked to perfection.
My discernible excitement prompted Jasbir to show me how the chicken wings were made.
Finally, and what you’ve all been waiting for, the biryani! With a choice of lamb shank, chicken and vegetable we duly opted for the chicken biryani. In no time came out this rather large vessel covered in crisp dough served with accompaniments of Mirch Unda Salan (a hard-boiled egg with tangy sauce), Kachumber (pickled salad), Raita (spiced yogurt) and Poppadum’s.
The biryani was just how we wanted it to be, delicious! The flavour of the meat harmoniously blended in with the rice and spices. In fact, it turned my brother, who isn’t the biggest fan of biryanis, into a biryani eater. If this doesn’t want to make you go here, I don’t know what will. Trust me, you won’t be sari (you guys didn’t think I would let you go without a pun did you?! 😀 )
Thank you Chef Jasbir and the team for a great experience 🙂