Dhaba (Hindi for roadside food stall) takes its inspiration from the street food of the North and South of India. Innovative, interesting and a far cry from the heavy, greasy and often artificially coloured, curries originally served to please the British palate. Dhaba serves up flavoursome and fragrant food in an interior styled on the kerbside vendor’s carts of India’s colourful streets.
Sometimes the smallest things end up having the greatest impact on your life……precisely what happened to Amir, the owner and face of Dhaba. A seasoned Restaurateur, on a trip to his homeland in 2016 he rediscovered the foods that were the backbone of the Indian workers diet, and wanted to bring some of that history back to London. Each dish speaks a different language and reflects a unique heritage.
One of the most popular dishes, the Railway Lamb Curry, traditionally cooked in a brass pot for 4 hours, was first introduced on the Frontier Mail run by the Western Railway during the pre-independence era, and cardamom and pepper, (the best in the world is grown in Kerala) are the stars of this particular dish. Whilst the Pav Bhaji, a bread and curry combination is said to have originated in the mid 1800’s as a midnight dinner for Mumbai’s factory workers heading home from the night shift. The White Chicken Korma is from the famous Awadi food of Lucknow where aristocrats treated cooking almost like an art form but, when time and history wrought havoc on the fortunes of the noble families, their cooks and chefs continued the gastronomic tradition on the streets and the secret recipes were passed down in families from generation to generation.
Dhaba mixes the diversity of the coastline and climate of the Keralan region, with its spicy Alleppey Fish Curry and the aromatic Malabar Prawn Curry that favours flavours of mustard seed, fenugreek and tamarind. Whilst the Kadai Chicken, with freshly ground coriander, red chilli and bay, pays homage to the big, loud, warm flavours of the North.
The multi layered history of India’s food can be appreciated at Dhaba in its simple and welcoming surroundings.