Dishoom: the Ethos

This Sunday morning was spent having breakfast with Sam (my boyfriend) at Dishoom.

The food was everything I’d been expecting from Dishoom – delicious, warm, comforting with a kick. I have no doubt that I will write again about Dishoom’s food in the future.

Today, however, I am drawing inspiration from Dishoom’s big heart.

Dishoom. The restaurant with an ethos like no other.

I emailed Dishoom earlier this week with some questions about the restaurant, and received a long and personalised response from Kapila, their “All-Ears-Walli”, explaining the incredible ethos of the company.

Dishoom is a well-known restaurant in London that serves comforting “Bombay-style” food. As described by Kapila, Dishoom serves “some of the best food you can eat. It’s true Bombay comfort food, made with much love and incredible skill. It’s the food of all Bombay: its Hindus, Muslim, and Parsis, and its cafés, grills, street stalls and homes. It is unpretentious, authentic, and delicious!”.

“Everything we do comes from a place of warmth, of openness, of generosity”.

Kapila described to me the inspiration for Dishoom: Irani cafés of Bombay in the mid 20th century. The cafés broke down barriers by bringing people together over food and drink. “They were the first places in Bombay where people of any culture, class or religion could take cool refuge from the street with a cup of chai, a simple snack or a hearty meal”. People from all walks of life shared tables, rubbed shoulders and broke bread together.

Shared spaces cultivate shared experiences, and shared experiences mean less violence, less hatred, towards those they are shared with.

Dishoom gets non-Muslims to celebrate Eid, gets non-Hindus to celebrate Diwali, seats poor students next to rich businessmen, and feeds millions of children. “Breaking down barriers is at the heart of Dishoom.”

They do this by creating Dishoom’s own ‘world’.

A world in which the Dishoom team all do Seva – the Hindi word for selfless service. This goes beyond providing great hospitality for guests. When practicing Seva, Dishoom’s team truly care about people. They take guests in and treat them like family, with a big heart.

Seva inspires a big heart because it means that we are all at our happiest and best when we are sharing ourselves whole-heartedly and contributing to the world to the very best of our abilities. “When our hearts are inspired and our minds are engaged, we truly bring together our whole self”.

Seva is not enough, however, for Dishoom to make the world a better place. They know that they need focused minds to make sure that everything they do is absolutely first-class. And it is.

When Dishoom do Seva together, and work towards first-class food service, they create magic: Dishoom’s world. A world in which there are no barriers. Where great food is a way to bring people together.

Not only this, but Dishoom donates a meal for every meal sold. They started the initiative for Ramadan 2015, and made it permanent for Diwali that same year. Since Diwali 2015, Dishoom has donated over two million meals to ensure that hungry children – in India and in the UK – keep up at school and get the education they need to break the poverty cycle.

Inspiring.

It may be difficult for a small restaurant to bring people together on such a scale, but it sure would be a goal of mine to emulate the warmth and kindness of Dishoom with the aim to use food to bring people together and celebrate differences.

In life in general, we can all be inspired to contribute towards a world with no barriers. We can all share experiences with others and be kind towards everyone. In personal relationships we can be warmer and more forgiving.

Dishoom is more than a restaurant. It inspires us to be kinder, warmer people.

PS. Their blue patterned plates are gorgeous…

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