Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bring on the Biryani: Or how I saw journalism get its mojo back

Inside the toilets of Dishoom
I have never really believed in the power of journalism. Of course, I had heard of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and had even dutifully watched All the President’s Men during university years, but five years of working as a journalist cured me of the notion that anything I wrote changed the world by even one-tenth of a percentage point.

My cynicism was cemented by the fact that Nandini – the film critic of Time Out Mumbai – would keep sending me to review Hindi films. They would invariably be terrible, I would invariably say so in my reviews, and they would invariably go on to become major hits.  Alright, so film reviews weren’t exactly in league with investigating the president, but if I couldn’t even get people to change their taste in films, how was to convince them to change their leaders.

So I entered my thirtieth year of life convinced of my own powerlessness. And then, Guy Dimond and Dishoom happened.

Now Guy is the food critic of Time Out London, and Dishoom is a new restaurant on Long Acre Road which claimed to be on the lines of a Bombay Irani Café. Last month, while I was doing an internship there, Guy asked me to accompany him for the restaurant review hoping that my Bombay days would come in handy in affirming his views on the place. We sat, ate and concluded that the Berry Chicken Biryani – the signature dish of most Irani cafes in Mumbai – was too dry, and really that ought not to be so. Then he wrote the same in his review, and we all forgot about it.

So imagine my surprise last week, when I was there with a few friends, and we found the whole recipe to be changed. When I quizzed the manager about it, here’s what he said: “some reviews said that the biryani was too dry, so we decided to change the recipe!”

Change the recipe? Change it because of a review? A review that I was – in whatever small measure – a part?

If I could get a restaurant to change its recipe, perhaps, I could change people’s tastes in films. Perhaps, I can change people’s minds about their leaders. Perhaps, I could change the world.

I am ready. Now, if only someone would hire me to start upon the project.

With its Biryani fixed, I would consider Dishoom a very welcome and much needed-addition to Central London. It has a contemporary décor, a cool vibe, an eclectic menu (with no Chicken Tikka Masala in sight), and reasonable prices (if you consider about £30-35-for-dinner & drinks-for-two reasonable). No longer will I have to go all the way to Southall or Wembley and suffer the terrible restaurant décors in order to enjoy a good Indian meal with friends.


Swati said...

:-) Nice....I wish deciding other things in life was as easy as deciding on(not choosing) 'dry meat' :-( ......

Girl you are getting addictive !

globalbabble said...

Hi Swati,

No, opening my blog and ACTUALLY FINDING COMMENTS there is more addictive ;-)