This November, Samyukta Nair and Rohit Ghai, Co-Founder and Executive Chef of Mayfair’s Jamavar, are to launch their new two-level restaurant, Dabbawala, in Soho's Maddox Street.
Named after the Dabbawalas, the institution of men who use Mumbai’s famed local railway to deliver home cooked meals across the city, the restaurant will pay homage to the culture and people, whose expanse of origins from across India have influenced its culinary history.
Traditionally towered boxes brimming with food made in the homes of the working community, dabbas are transported to their intended recipient through a complex route of local trains, handcarts and bicycles. The path of each tin is carefully navigated by the Dabbawalas, with each being marked by an individual code; a carefully crafted system which has been at the centre of day to day life in Mumbai for decades.
The menu will see Ghai recreate some of the city’s most loved dishes alongside his own family recipes, passed down by his mother. Seasonal delights, inspired by Mumbai and the surrounding areas, will include Misal pav topped with potato salli, Kolhapuri spiced spit roasted chicken, Seabass and scallop Tawa Pulao along with Kerala style ishtew with idiyappam and a sweet double ka meetha with tutti fruity masala milk and almonds.
Reminiscent of Nair’s school days, where lunch was delivered by the Dabbawala, there will also be tiered tiffin dabbas. Each box will be presented to the table and unpacked to reveal curries, breads and rice ideal for quick a yet wholesome lunch.
Nair said, ‘Mumbai is a city built on traditions, filled by an endless influx of dreamers, working professionals, and those seeking their fame and fortune; a true melting pot. In one moment you can be in old world Bombay and the turn of a street corner will thrust you into an urban amalgamation.
'In this complex, bustling metropolis, the Dabbawalas are a constant, bridging the distance between work and home, between different cultures and diverse regional cuisines, with their near-clockwork precision, and we hope to bring the same ethos to London.'
Ghai added, ‘Dabbawala will capture the essence of Mumbai, our love of home comforts alongside our rapid pace of life, both existing side by side. The restaurant will be a place just as well suited to a leisurely dinner with friends as a quick lunch for one, always inspired by Mumbai’s diverse flavours, and home style cooking.'