Although the Thakars and Naved Nasir have a London restaurant called Dishoom, their first cookbook is truly a tribute to Bombay, centered around a particular style of café that once thrived there, run by Zoroastrian immigrants from Iran. Dishoom the cookbook is an eccentric and loving tour of South Bombay. It is full of a sense of place and of the characters who one would meet on the streets, in the markets, and at the restaurants.
One of the book’s great charms is its chatty, slightly bossy voice, dropping in details of local history, bits of lore regarding the Irani cafes, and directions from one place to the next. “Now walk north along the arcades to Dadabhai Naorojii Road. Crane you neck to look up at the loft structures. Also enjoy the tiny street-side stalls set up within the shaded nooks and crannies, like the Bombay Pen Corner, which no longer sells pens, but has a beautiful sign and sells nice name plates and rubber stamps.”
There are plenty of recipes as well, Many are identified with traditional communities within the city, such as prawn koliwada, a dish spice-coated deep-fried prawns that comes from a fishing community that predates Bombay itself. Some come from Irani cafes, such as akuri, a scrambled egg-like dish which reaches its pinnacle at an establishment called Kyani & Co. Others are the restaurant’s own devising, such as a bacon naan roll, and paya, a dish of lamb’s trotters cooked as a stew, and sometimes eaten for breakfast as well as dinner.
Hardcover. Color photographs throughout. British measurements.