Jas Sansi enjoys a birthday dinner with his family at Dishoom Birmingham.
And like the candles on his cake, he’s blown away with the new restaurant at One Chamberlain Square.
Birmingham’s latest addition to a mesmerising food scene has been gently unveiled over recent weeks. From Michelin Star Celebrity Chefs, Digbeth Dining and Desi Grill Deliveroos, Brum’s tums have never been so spoilt for choice.
Dishoom Birmingham has landed.
Strange sounding name for a restaurant? Readers who grew up hypnotised by 1970s Indian Cinema will be familiar with the name. Dishoom is the sound effect added when the action hero socks the villain, squarely in the jaw.
Social media has been awash with the arrival of bacon naan rolls and exclusive to Brum, a mutton chaap korma. Expect a flurry of images on Instagram of the big Bombay, Dishoom’s full English Breakfast.
Dishoom Birmingham have rolled out the saffron carpet at One Chamberlain Square. The building is shared with PwC but there’s no accounting for the beauty of the restaurant’s interior. It is simply gorgeous.
Dark wood panelling, calming botanicals, ceiling fans and soaring closets showcasing Bombay goods transport you to distant lands as you step into the restaurant.
The genius of the interior, reminiscent of a bygone era when Irani cafes peppered Bombay is this; it will improve with age. Scuffs, dents and marks will aid the restaurant’s journey from design vision to a neighbourhood favourite. We will make it our own.
Dishoom Birmingham is spectacular in scale. 330 covers is one small step for Naan, one giant leap for Naan kind.
Bookings are not taken for parties fewer than six. The customer experience invites you to turn up, walk in, be welcomed (everyone is welcome), sit down, order, eat, drink, settle your chit, exit and savour the memory.
In view of the Corona Virus, NHS England suggest washing your hands before your meal for twenty seconds. Alternatively sing Happy Birthday twice. If you had come with me, you could have sang it three times.
The team behind the group, including Executive Chef Naved Nasir, and Head Babus Shamil and Kavi Thakrar are credited for introducing Indian Street Food to the UK. As first cities outside of their capitals, Bombay is seamlessly twinned with Birmingham.
Bombay (Mumbai) is an incredible place. If you ever get the chance to visit, take a copy of ‘Maximum City – Bombay Lost and Found’ by Suketu Mehta. I can’t imagine you’ll get time to read it there but persevere, it’s an unparalleled insight to the place.
For local intelligence on where to eat in Bombay and how to recreate the group’s menu, pack a copy of ‘From Bombay with Love’ from Dishoom. This has been my bedtime reading over recent weeks. It’s £26 and available in the restaurant.
The food and drinks in Dishoom Birmingham are inspired by the spirit of Southern Indian states unlike other Indian restaurants in the city, which are a nod to North India. It serves up familiar dishes alongside the unfamiliar.
India has never shied away from the ability to innovate. For two thousand years India endured wave after wave of invasion. From Alexander the Great in 326 BC to Great Britain in 1608, foreigners have been drawn to its fertile soil. India in turn adapted to shifting political landscapes.
Some of India’s greatest leaders and cultural icons are celebrated on the walls of Dishoom Birmingham. Look for the photograph of Independent India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru in cricket whites.
I was particularly struck by the photograph of Bhagat Singh. He’s not someone who will ever earn mention in British history books but his memory has never faded from Punjabi folklore.
Bhagat Singh’s inclusion on the wall demonstrates just how much thought has gone into the restaurant’s design in a region where many people have ancestral ties in Punjab. For younger readers of Punjabi heritage, seek his picture out at Dishoom Birmingham and salute him. Your ancestors will be touched.
The women and men on this wall represent India’s political and thought leaders. They ended the cycle of adapting to the whims of invaders, and started to set the agenda for a post colonial and free India.
The world’s largest democracy has shaped our region’s Indian community from 4000 miles away for over 70 years. For Brummies of Indian origin, it is our collective long distance relationship.
That said, India cannot claim a monopoly on adaptive evolution. Look around in Birmingham and the West Midlands right now. Change emanates on our streets, squares and thoroughfares.
Dust hangs in the air from power tools breaking ground. Ideas are being chiseled from granite blocks of creativity.
Dishoom Birmingham isn’t here by accident. This is a city region on the up. And its marching forward at high speed too.
Dishoom offers a fresh perspective on Indian food and what an Indian restaurant in 21st Century Global Britain looks like. Their compass has steered them to a good place with perfect timing.
Namaste Dishoom Birmingham, or as we Sikhs convey, Sat Sri Akaal (True is the Great Timeless One)
You are welcome. You will flourish. We shall eat well together.
Dishoom Birmingham, One Chamberlain Square, Birmingham B3 3AX
Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham @jassansi 07930 837 505