Biryani is usually one of the best things on the menu at any Indian restaurant. But when you and your friends have gone all-out and the table’s looking like Johnny Vegas did the ordering, it can get obscured among the other dishes.
At Dum Biryani, a new Indian restaurant in Soho, that won’t be the case. Here, the biryani is the focus, and it gets a stage light, a thousand screaming fans, and one of those twin-neck guitars for an epic solo. The elevated version you’ll eat here is the South Indian variety, which lands on your table encased in a flaky pie crust so that the rice beneath doesn’t dry out. Cutting that hot crust open is like hitting a power chord through a Marshall stack - not only will you smell it, you’ll also feel it.
While the signature biryanis are the best reason to visit Dum, you should plan to go in on the starters too. The hot wings and stir-fried prawns are must-orders, and yes, they’re great for sharing. It’s also worth noting that you’ll get a lot of food for what you pay, which means that it’s very easy to order more than you can eat. One biryani between two is the sweet spot.
Speaking of sweet spots, we love that Dum Biryani has an old school atmosphere while also feeling modern. The scuffed walls and furniture will remind you of period films you’ve seen about India, but the pop art and Tupac over the speakers signal that it’s also a bit trendy. And though Dum looks like it was designed by South Asian hipsters, it’s entirely staffed by their uncles - the service is no-nonsense curry house, in a good way.
With superb food and a laid-back atmosphere, it’s easy to recommend Dum for an easy dinner in central London with friends. Bring a crew. Bring your parents. Unlike the average guitar solo, this is one you won’t want to miss.
These are tender, nicely spiced, and you definitely want them. We should also mention that they’re extremely hot, but don’t let a bit of gastric irritation put you off.
Unlike the wings, the prawns have tons of flavour without blowing your head off. They’re creamy, gently spiced, and we want a bucket of these the next time we visit. Just as well, since you’ll receive a generous portion for £5.
There’s a chicken version, but the lamb biryani is the one you want. It’s properly mixed and is the kind of spicy, comforting dish that you won’t be able to stop eating. It also comes with mini poppadoms and a few dips, so you can feel like you ate something other than rice and meat for dinner.
Somewhere beneath the rap music, there’s a guy in the kitchen that doesn’t give a f*ck about your Western palate, and he’s the one making the food. This is also very spicy, but it’s also delicious and worth the extra mango lassi you’ll order to put the fire out.
Dum Biryani is great for vegetarians - there’s an entire veg starter section, and the seasonal vegetable biryani is an excellent option for the herbivore in your life.
The lentil dal here is good, though it sort of fades into the background next to the other dishes. You should get one for the table to share though - an Indian meal without dal just doesn’t feel right.
This is a rich, warm milk pudding with aromatics like rosewater and cardamom. Get it if you’re craving a sweet hit but if not, there are plenty of places nearby to grab ice cream.