It was my first visit to Dunfermline, although anywhere that spawned Andrew Carnegie, Iain Banks and the Skids will always be
Agree by me.
We toured the town in search of antiquities, although we could easily have spent our time there on an architectural and cultural trail – the ghost of Andrew Carnegie features prominently and, less obviously, the old fire station well worth a visit, if your taste embraces classic modernism.
Instead, we had lunch and left more intellectual pursuits for next time.
Surroundings of Doom
That’s not to say there isn’t anything cerebral or vital about great food served in a transformative environment – because that’s exactly what you get here at Dhoom, which claims to be the only restaurant of its kind. in Scotland.
Dhoom means ‘celebration’ and the restaurant celebrates ‘authentic’ Indian street food.
Now, without wanting to denigrate the Dhoom experience in any way (we loved it and can’t wait to go back), I have to say that there are quite a few other places claiming to serve Indian street food in this country, but not so well outside Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Meanwhile, smaller chains like Dishoom (with a branch in Edinburgh) have attempted to urbanize Indian cuisine and, like many other Indian restaurants, have small street food sections on their menus, alongside the larger offerings. traditional.
The idea of serving Indian food “tapas style” (apologies for cross-cultural referencing but I’m just repeating descriptions of some menus I’ve seen) isn’t new but it’s welcome.
It’s not always that you want a huge curry and, for many, the whole notion of a ‘classic’ Indian meal experience, hot towels at bedtime afterwards, needed a rethink.
When it comes to the authenticity of this food, however, where do you start? And does it really matter?
As with other great cuisines, what we define as authentic Indian cuisine was originally the product of many other influences, especially given the size and diversity of the subcontinent.
Subsequently, Anglo-Indian food itself developed during colonialism, when dishes like kedgeree and mulligatawny soup became examples of what we might now fancifully call fusion food.
A fascinating history of Anglo-Indian cuisine by Debabrata Mukherjee can be found at www.historicuk.com – here the author states that sailors returning to the UK after World War II ‘bought crisps and bombed out cafes selling curry and rice alongside fish, chips and pies.
hey stayed open past 11pm to catch the after pub trade. Eating hot curry after a night out in the pub has become a tradition. As customers became more and more fond of curries, these restaurants abandoned British dishes and turned into takeaways and cheap Indian restaurants”.
As always in modern life, we have to wonder how we define authenticity when we can still order curry sauce with our fries and consider that post-pub affair as a British meal, complete with chicken tikka masala.
Dhoom serves pakora macaroni and cheese (£5.95) and Indo-Scott (sic) pakora haggis (also £6.50) and it feels less about authenticity and more of a gimmick, unless it’s it is a commentary on the great melting pot of food and culture itself.
Whatever you think of these culinary explorations, Dhoom’s menu is based on the knowledge and skills of a chef who has opened 52 restaurants around the world and still travels extensively around his homeland in search of ideas to bring back home. Scotland.
As such, you are in very good hands here.
In 2001 I bought a book called The New Tastes of India by Das Sreedharan (out of print but used copies widely available online). This book was a revelation as it brought Rasa’s cooking in London into the realm of home cooking.
Twenty-one years ago, Rasa was one of my favorite Indian restaurants as it championed the lightness of Kerala cuisine in the capital, especially at a restaurant near my home in Marylebone.
It was here that I really learned the intricacies of Indian cuisine, a statement that now sounds silly and condescending, but it’s true to say that, until then, the Indian food many of us knew was limited at the Friday night curry pump. .
Rasa helped open my palate to the wonders of tomato rasam and bhindi thoran and avial, that most delicious blend of vegetables, light spices and coconut.
With a lifelong interest in Ayurvedic medicine and cuisine, I have always been drawn to a style of Indian cooking that emphasizes lightness and freshness, especially when cooking without meat.
There is nothing more restorative to me than a dal and it is largely towards Indian vegetarian food that I gravitate towards culinary comfort and joy, especially in the dreich depths of winter.
Dhoom seemed to deliver the bursts of flavor needed to offset the chill outside.
It was while chatting with the restaurant’s very affable chef-manager, Dhaneshwar Prasad, that he said he would soon return to his hometown of Delhi for a five-week trip to research and formulate new ideas for Restaurant.
From Dunfermline to Delhi is a long way to discover new recipes, but it’s a mark of this chef’s dedication that when I emailed him a few days later to check some facts for this review, he was already at work in India. There is no doubt that he will come back full of new ideas.
Dhoom opened in November 2018 and I imagine it has turned Dunfermline’s food scene upside down.
First of all, it looks great.
Located in a row of nondescript shops, the charms of Dhoom invade you as you get closer.
Are rope swings hanging from the window and a few tuk-tuks just visible inside?
Instantly you feel transported, even though the vehicles themselves are static and conceal
It’s a simple yet glorious space that attempts to replicate the idea of an Indian street market. It’s vibrant, playful and colorful, the whole of one wall is covered in two murals – one of which resembled Trojan, the legendary London artist and collaborator of Leigh Bowery, who died aged 20.
The liveliness of this interior is matched only by the service, which has been exemplary. From the chef himself, who managed to be in the kitchen and also in front of the house welcoming new customers, to our lovely waiter and the rest of the staff, this was a place to feel pampered and happy.
There is a set lunch for 12.95 which the waiter recommended to both of us. To his credit, when I suggested ordering a few more dishes from the a la carte menu, he said there was plenty of food on the set menu and we wouldn’t go hungry. He was right.
The menu we tried (one with meat, one without) is called Namaste India and the aim is to give diners a carefully balanced selection of northern, southern, eastern and western dishes. from India.
A tomato shorba pre-starter was an intense, thick broth made with 25 spices. It was so rich and deeply aromatic that I felt its warmth slide all the way down my throat and the aftereffect was so powerful that I felt warmed and nourished from within. Kind of like a good malt really – but better for you.
The set lunch includes four entrees and all were wonderful – crispy southern tapioca tikki, bhojpuri dal chawal, chicken 65 and crispy conzy hash. The presentation of each was excellent and the tastes affirmed and yet harmonious.
Of the four, Chicken 65 was probably my favorite, boneless chicken marinated in a ginger and garlic paste, fried then coated in a tangy garlic and hot pepper sauce.
The bhojpuri dal chawal was a close runner-up – a delicious dumpling of lentils and rice, tossed with grated coconut.
As you might expect here the vegetarian food is easily as interesting as the meat equivalents and David was very happy with each of his starters although we both felt the mac and cheese pakora was a cultural exchange too far.
The texture of the mac and cheese seemed quite foreign to the pakora, and that’s before you even got the wisdom to put cilantro with cheddar cheese. A novelty but, for us, not a keeper.
My main course of railway canteen lamb was the star of the show, a rich, earthy and creamy stew of tender lamb, potatoes and tangy sauce. Served with perfectly cooked rice and chapati it was absolutely brilliant and I could have eaten double
David’s chana aloo was also excellent, a fragrant chickpea and potato curry that was perfectly balanced and nutritious despite (or perhaps because of) the carb overload.
We raved about the dessert and ordered three, mainly because we both love kulfi and decided to split a pistachio version (£3.95). With that we had a gajar halwa wrap (£3.95) and a classic gulab jamun (also £3.95). I preferred the wrap because I loved the combination of carrot, milk and sugar.
The aromatic smoke of Indian tea (£1.95) rounded off a delicious lunch.
When we entered the place there was only one table occupied. When we left it was almost full. The space seemed alive.
But that’s not all.
When we arrived we were a bit depressed, our bones shaking with cold.
Ninety minutes later we left feeling fed, happy and looking forward
in the spring – and that was without the benefit of Dhoom’s Indian cocktails (£7.95).
If that’s not something to celebrate and inspire a return visit, I don’t know what is.
Address: Dhoom, 19-21 New Row, Dunfermline, KY12 7EA
Price: Set lunch £12.95, starters from £5.95, mains from £7.50, desserts from £3.95
P: 01383 223340
- Food: 5/5
- Performance: 5/5
- Surroundings: 5/5
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[Dhoom’s Indian food in Dunfermline is good for the soul]