Another new challenge for us. This was a big one and we have been working on it for about a year with guests flying in from Delhi to eat Indian food.
We were approached by a couple at least two years ago who were interested in authentic Indian food at their wedding. We had already visited Dishoom in London as well as many restaurants in Southall as well as having spent 4 months in India in the 90s. The couple talked about the food at Dishoom and other Bombay Café style restaurants springing up in London, so we built a menu around what they wanted to eat and plagiarised some of Dishooms dishes, which meant a lot or research visiting trialling and tasting. The internet is a wonderful thing for research and variations of recipes appear all over it and through trial and I error I came up with some recipes that were as good as and perhaps in some cases better than the real thing. I.e. getting close to Dishoom Shoreditch (sublime) better than Dishoom Carnaby street (had they added Heinz tomato soup?) The black lentil dahl is cooked for at least 12 hours it is deep flavoured and comforting, chocolatey and incredibly moorish.
Their lamb Raan was melting in the mouth packed with flavour and I made this at least five times twice before discovering that nuts were off the menu due to a guest having a severe allergy. English new season Lamb perhaps being a bit sweet and subtle we chose to use Langley Chase Hoggit which at the time was a steady price option compared to the volatile spring lamb price. It has a stronger flavour more like mutton which would carry the spices and long cooking required for this dish. I was very pleased with the result although some of the legs on the bone where massive and I would have preferred to cook them a little longer on the day (I doubt Dishoom cooks them fresh on the day!) I made some Kebab Masala and used Black salt, a volcanic slat that smells of sulphur and on its own is quite unpleasant but but when part of a sprinkling masala adds something that I have rarely experienced in Indian food.
We accompanied this with Baingan Riata and I used my experience of burning aubergines to bring out a smokey flavour with a mix of spices and dahls to season, this was lovely. I was keen to make naans in the wood fired oven but was overruled by Sarah who said it was ridiculous to do too much, so we bought some fresh naans form El Amin in Cambridge these are fantastic like the ones you get in a good Indian restaurant, buttery and soft, nothing like the super market ones. I was apologetic about not making my own Paneer as I can’t get it to hold together but Gaurav, the client said the version I bought was his mothers favourite! We used that in an old favourite of ours spinach paneer and serve deep fried okra with chat masala. I made all the staff eat some as many had not tried okra before and cooked this way it bears no resemblance to the slimy stuff that is not to everyone’s liking.
For canapés we made authentic mini shami kebabs each one with a red onion mint and coriander stuffing. Mini onion bhajis made and cooked on the day. For evening food I learnt how to fill samosas correctly so they can be deep fried and not soak up oil and taught two members of staff how to do it. On the night they made over 200 samosa which we cooked and served as fresh as possible.
For dessert we made Rosewater Pavlovas with homemade local honey ice cream topped with roasted rhubarb, these are lovely things. We can say it now as it was a few years ago but one of my wife’s favourite memories from the weddings we do is seeing Orlando Bloom tucking causally into a half of one of our Pavlovas (straight from the serving dish how rude!) while holding court with admirers.