Dishoom Sundays in Lockdown 2020

Awadhi Lamb Biryani in all its glory.

One of the more glorious traditions that has emerged during Lockdown 2020 for our family has been Dishoom Sundays.

For those of you unfamiliar, Dishoom is a legendary Indian restaurant in London with equally legendary queues (this was in the Before Inside Times, obviously, when we could do amazing things like eat in restaurants). It really didn’t matter what time you strategically decided to arrive to avoid the queue. You were going to have to stand in it, whether you liked it or not. But it was absolutely worth the wait.

Dishoom specialises in the food of Bombay, now known as Mumbai. Its cookbook provides recipes for all the Dishoom favourites, but also gives a hat tip to all of its favourite restaurants in south Bombay. As it happens, Tim lived in this exact neighbourhood for three months in 2017, so he was lucky enough to visit many of the restaurants and street vendors highlighted in the book (and we got to try a few too, when we visited). The Dishoom cookbook was published in September 2019 and was an immediate hit. Tim gave me the cookbook for Christmas, knowing how much we all love Indian food.

Kirstin and I even discussed the possibility of choosing “Dishoom” for one of our months, but it fell at the final hurdle, which was, “Are there plenty of recipes that we can make on a weeknight.” The answer to that is a categorical NO because while they are all utterly delicious, they also represent a serious investment of time. Like Grandma always said: It’s worth the wait!

But now that time feels irrelevant and weekend time in particular is just a construct, we’ve got all the time in the world to tackle some of these delicious gems. It also helps enormously if it’s a team effort, because like I said, it’s a serious investment of time. We’ve now made Awadi Lamb Biryani several times now. I mean, sure, it takes the entire afternoon, but this is what Dishoom Sundays are all about. Every time we have it, we all swoon at its deliciousness. (Needless to say, right now, that’s a very nice thing.)

In addition to some sort of main dish, we’ve also become dab hands at some of the Dishoom side dishes, including Raita, Chapati and Kachumber. They’re all excellent.

So now when we’re going to have Dishoom Sunday, we don’t even get into specifics of what we’re going to be making. Instead, we just announce the joyful day and settle in for a very delicious meal.

Dishoom Sundays: A lockdown tradition that will continue well past lockdown.

Dishoom Sundays in Lockdown 2020

“Maple-roasted tofu” from “Dinner”

Kirstin: Before Lockdown, a million or maybe a bazillion years ago, I was trying to be Vegan Before 6. I tried to be vegan for the first few weeks of lockdown but it was just too much fo my brain to compute, so I gave up. But as things are easing, I am testing the waters of Veganism again. Hence this recipe with tofu and squash. This is a great little recipe, packed full of flavours, easier than it looks (from the recipe) to cook. And everyone except Miles loved it. However, he confided in me that he would consider trying a tomato. SO THERE’S THAT. Next up. AUBERGINE.

“Maple-roasted tofu” from “Dinner”

“Spiced fish pilaf with caramelised onions” from “Zaitoun”

Kirstin: Our first Fizz Friday with our best friends since Lockdown began a million years ago. The tradition is simple. Every Friday we see our friends, I cook food, we drink fizz. Sometimes there is Cards Against Humanity after dinner. But there is always sorting out the world. And that is the part I have missed the most. That chatting to others who give you a different perspective, who maybe share something similar that happened to them, who make you giggle, all the while enjoying food and drink. I made Palestinian style fish and pilaf. It was delicious. And for dessert, my current favourite cake recipe, a pomegranate/yoghurt/olive oil cake from the lovely Rukmini Iyer. At the end of the evening, my throat hurt and I completely panicked that I had the start of COVID symptoms but I needn’t have worried. As I thought back on the evening I realisedmy throat hurt from all the laughing. The perfect way to start the weekend.

“Spiced fish pilaf with caramelised onions” from “Zaitoun”

“Gigli with chickpeas and za’atar” from “Simple”

Kirstin: This was a triumph of a recipe. After all that cultural appropriation debacle with Alison Roman and The Stew, I give you this recipe which knows where it’s coming from, with essentially the same ingredients. Well, I say that but there’s no turmeric or coconut milk. But chickpeas and pasta, with a little anchovy and lemon make quite the most delicious combination. Also. Tate ate all the contents of their bowl.

“Gigli with chickpeas and za’atar” from “Simple”

“Spiced salmon skewers with parsley oil” from “Falastin”

Kirstin: Today lockdown was eased a little. Non-essential shops were opened, complete with social distancing. So Tate and I decided to visit Sissinghurst to celebrate. As you do if you like Virginia Woolf and gardens. Before we left on our adventure (our first trip outside of London in MONTHS), I marinated the salmon for these skewers in the hope that the children might NOT notice their least favourite food stuff. What was I thinking? Of course they noticed. But it meant MORE FOR US. Which we both loved. Because all the flavours mingled so very well, especially with the parsley oil. This was delicious in all the ways. And I am already craving all the flavours.

“Spiced salmon skewers with parsley oil” from “Falastin”

“Roast chicken with peaches, honey and lavender” from “A bird in the hand”

Kirstin: We have a LOT of lavender in our garden. It is one of the very few plants that I can manage to keep alive, year after year. Lavender surrounds our Outdoor eating area and it is just coming into bloom. It smells just wonderful. Anyway, as I was searching for our weekly roast chicken recipe I spotted this one. As the title suggests it has lavender, honey AND peaches which felt like all the summer feels in one dish. I wasn’t sure the children would go for it, but it turns out that I should not have had any worries; they LOVED it. They even negotiated between them who would have the last piece of chicken and cleared their plates. There is also a little white balsamic vinegar mixed in with the honey, when combined with the added lavender flavour is as special as it sounds.

But I’d best get on this again because the lavender won’t last forever! And the peaches won’t be as sweet. Oh how I love summer…

“Roast chicken with peaches, honey and lavender” from “A bird in the hand”

“Lemon, cumin and green chilli sea bass” from “Zaitoun”

Kirstin: Tonight was our first meal as a bubble with my mother. She brought champagne to celebrate. I thought I would make clams. Or maybe swordfish, neither of which were available at the fishmongers. The fishmonger suggested sea bass instead and I figured I could find a Palestinian recipe in one of my books. I was not wrong. This book, written by the very lovely Yasmin Khan is now featuring big in our kitchen had a suitable recipe. I love the way Yasmin explains the different areas of Palestinian cooking. The recipe is also amazing, even though I used red chillies instead of green. The flavours were clean and suited the sea bass wonderfully.

And then we played a million games of bananagrams. Life slowly coming out of lockdown.

“Lemon, cumin and green chilli sea bass” from “Zaitoun”

“Pappardelle with rose harissa, black olives and capers” from “Simple”

Kirstin: In a bid to eat less meat, I’ve started going through some of my books for recipes that are meatless. This one looked like a winner. Harissa, olives, and tomatoes. I made it for lunch. The kids did not eat it (I made frittata for them) because tomatoes. And sauce.
The Greek yoghurt was a perfect antidote to the harissa which crept up rather. What a wonderfully simple and flavourful recipe. I can imagine eating this in the summer or winter. For lunch or dinner.

“Pappardelle with rose harissa, black olives and capers” from “Simple”

“Whole butter chicken with sweet potatoes and red onion” from “The roasting tin around the world”

Sunday dinner. And here I am trying out a new roast chicken recipe. This one, Rukini describes as being a “celebratory roast chicken, with a completely addictive tomato sauce”. And she’s not wrong. The recipe starts with melting cinnamon and other spices in some butter. Then stirring the onions and cherry tomatoes and sweet potatoes into that mix. Finally, a paste of lime zest, yoghurt and other goodies are slathered all over the bird and it’s in the oven for more than an hour. Squashing the tomatoes and adding double cream just before the end of the additional 10 minute cooking time finishes off this deeply satisfying chicken. It was sensational and unforgettable. How I love all the Rukmini Iyer recipes.

“Whole butter chicken with sweet potatoes and red onion” from “The roasting tin around the world”