[Bramhall, Greater Manchester] Bombay to Mumbai

There are about twenty restaurants that we visit on a fairly regular basis (at least a couple of times a year). Most are casual places, a couple hold Michelin stars. I’d miss any of them if they closed but a handful are all but irreplaceable. B2M is one of that handful. It’s not just the good food. It’s combining that good food with “proper” hospitality. It’s what every restaurant should aspire to be.

Covid has, of course, intervened in our meals here – the last time was just after restrictions were lifted last July. It was good to be reading a menu of old favourites, although we noticed a couple of tweaks to the menu. Have to say I wasn’t convinced by the idea of Yorker Kheema starter – lamb kheema in a Yorkshire pudding served with spicy mash. But, as usual , there was bags of choice of very convincing food. We were accompanied on this visit by a family member but, as usual when we dine with guests, I’ll only mention the food my partner and I ate.

We started with mini poppadums, topped with tomato and onion. And there’s an array of things to drizzle over – raita, mango chutney, a spicy mint (?) one and an even spicier one where I only got chilli.

As to starters, a long standing favourite of masala dosa ticked all the boxes. Nice pancake, filling with lightly spiced potato, accompanied by the classics – coconut chutney and a sambhar. Samosa chaat is another favourite in South Asian restaurants although we’ve not previously ordered it here. Unlike most places where the samosa is served chopped up and mixed with the yoghurt, chutney and other accompaniments, here it’s served intact. Crisp pastry, with a tasty filling of mainly potato and peas – it’s the work of seconds to break it up and mix everything together.

We ordered two absolute belters for mains. Yep, we’ve eaten them before here and, with such a long period since last time, we were really looking to them. Lamb Chamku has a quite clingy sauce, rich with garlic and the earthy sweetness from beetroot. It’s a dark, almost sinister, colour – perhaps that’s how Sandeep came to name it Chamku, after the Bollywood crime thriller. There are two dishes in the style of the city of Kolhapur (to the south of Mumbai) – a chicken one and mixed vegetables. We’ve eaten and enjoyed both over time. It was the chicken one this time (although I think the veggie version edges it). Another dish where the food isn’t swimming in sauce – and what sauce there was came very well spiced, with a big hit from chilli (but not such that you can’t taste the rest of it). Sandeep brought us a sample of the Goan fish curry, explaining that he worked in Goa for three years and that his chef was Goan. He’d told the chef to make it exactly as he would traditionally do at home. What comes is perfectly cooked fish in a very well rounded smooth sauce. This is not a bland dish but the flavours are restrained so that the delicate fish is not overwhelmed. One to consider ordering on a future visit.

As always, carbs were spot on. This time, pilau rice and roti.

It was nice evening and we were very glad to be back and that B2M has made it through these past very tough months.

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Sounded like a really good meal, John. I’d sure love to eat there if I’m ever in Manchester.

Actually, this would’ve been my first choice to order from the menu - I’m always on the lookout for “localized”, unique dishes that somewhat reflect the locale they are in. And I think lamb keema and Yorkshire pudding would work together beautifully! :grin:

If not because of the COVID pandemic which shut down international travel last year, I was supposed to vacation in Mumbai in June 2020. I’d already drawn up a list of eateries I planned to visit, which included traditional Parsi coffeehouses like Britania & Co. (sic) that serves, among others, Indianized British food.

Dishoom in London (now with branches in Manchester, Edinburgh and Birmingham) fashioned itself after Britania & Co. - I tried its bacon naan roll back in 2012.
It’s also offered as part of their takeout menu nowadays.

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Mouthwatering review, John
Good luck against Chelski tonight.
Those bacon naans look good too !

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Cheers, mate. I think we may need the luck.

I hope Aguero will play ( and score). It’d be a fitting end to his career with us.

I would’ve immediately zeroed in on the fish curry. I’m eating breakfast now and dreaming of a curry breakfast. There used to be some Indian places in Boston that served a fish curry but I’m out of the loop. Must remedy that.

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That all sounds great. Sounds like you’re OK with dining now, John. I’ve had some stomach issues and am of spice, so vicarious experiences are it for me at the moment. Very envious! I really fancy the Goan fish now. Big fan of the contrasting tastes and textures of chaat. As for the bacon naan Peter mentioned, Dishoom’s are iconic at this point, but I have yet to try one. I always stick to the black dhal, bhel, and bottomless chai - and suddenly a lovely spicy chai sounds just the ticket.

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Dishoom shared 4 of its recipes here, including the house black dhal - I think it’s great, as you can tweak the recipes when you cook it yourself: reduce the chili or spice content, for example.

The black dhal recipe here called for about 4 hours of slow-cooking, and lots of butter and cream.

When I was in Delhi, India, many years ago, we ate at ITC Maurya Hotel’s famous Bukhara restaurant, which had always claimed that their black dhal was slow-cooked for 15 hours (!) to obtain its rich flavours. Frankly, I think it tasted no different from Dishoom’s - shovelfuls of butter and cream did the trick, rather than the extra-long slow-cooking of the beans. :grin:

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Bombay to Mumbai has a several dals on the menu. The familiar tarka dal and dal makhani, of course. But they also have pahadi dal (my favourite) which is prepared and cooked like a makhani but doesnt have the cream.

They’ve also fairly recently introduced Sindhi dal , amongst the starters. This is also really nice with a sharpness coming from dry mango (amchoor ?) and tamarind. They serve it with a crisp pakwan. This is a traditional breakfast dish in Sindh province, Pakistan. Sandeep, who is Hindu, told me that his family originate from Sindh but had to flee to India for safety when the country was partitioned in 1947.

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Yes, the amchoor will give the dhal a sourish flavour, whilst the tamarind chutney gives the whole dish a sharp lift.

We have a small but very wealthy Sindhi diaspora in Singapore, and they all seemed to belong to a tightly-knit business community. Many of the richest Indians in Singapore are of Sindhi descent: the Jumabhoys, the Melwanis, the Mirchandanis, etc. Hari Harilela, who was known as the richest Indian in Hong Kong, was also Sindhi.

I have a close Singaporean-Sindhi friend and, once, when we were fresh graduates starting off as colleagues at the Singapore Broadcasting Corp (our first jobs), he invited me to his house for the Muslim Eid celebration (he’s Sindhi-Muslim). I was aghast when I arrived at his massive house: there were at least a half a dozen Rolls Royces parked outside in the driveway. I found out later that those belonged to his other guests who all also happened to be Sindhi! :joy:

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold