Our trip to London in October was one I certainly will never forget. Traveling halfway around the world with my love, without any major plans beyond knowing where to stay, a list of restaurants as dishes I had to have and a few sights that were “musts” and not much more. Such a wonderful way to travel.
Staying in the Shoreditch neighborhood in London was the perfect place for us. The grit of a big city matched with the deeply rooted history of London, it was the perfect edgy urban vibe that we love! The streets of “The Ditch”, as locals call it, are lined with charming cafes, coffee shops and restaurants, beautiful street art tucked into the most unsuspecting corners – it’s got that cutting edge vibe that juxtaposes the proper bits of London, just so perfectly.
Being in London I was able to safely eat gluten-free easier than probably any other city I have ever visited and the food was incredible – I was stunned, not at all what I had expected nor remembered from my trip to the UK over 15 years ago. I plan to write up a post sharing some of my personal favorites from the Trip, but in the meantime I wanted to share my single most-favorite dish from all of my UK travels, shoot maybe all of my European travels, even.
At the top of must-haves list while in the UK were a proper fish and chips, a savory pie and of course, a good London-style street curry. The challenge lying actually in the latter, as my husband does not like Indian, actually ‘doesn’t like’ is an understatement – he straight up hates it thanks to a bad food poisoning episode over 5 years ago. Convincing him to go to an Indian restaurant always feels like spousal abuse on my part, so I rarely do it. Indian has become a solo-night take out thing or a G.N.O. situation. That said, while in London, Mark proved to me that he really is the best sport ever and for his actions on this fateful night he should be awarded a trophy for most accommodating life partner ever! I picked a good one, you guys.
I had planned that one of our night’s in London, I would simply just grab street curry from a vendor or something walk up, just to get my fix, and Mark could get his own quick-pick meal of his own, a fish and chips or something of the like. However, as we strolled the streets of Shoreditch and as I scoured Yelp and other online reviews, it became apparent to me that Dishoom, A Bombay-style cafe, was a mere block from our hotel, and this was THE restaurant to go to for solid Indian food. On our first night in town we walked past Dishoom and there was a long line down and around the block, just for people to get their name on the list to then still wait for a table. Instead of scaring me off, I was of course now more intrigued than ever.
They don’t take reservations so we decided to take our chances on our last evening in town before we took the train to Paris the next morning. We opted for a somewhat early meal and the wait was only 45 minutes. Apparently that’s “really good”. Mark waited with me. I ordered an incredible chai-infused cocktail and eventually we were seated. They have gluten-free specific menu, where safe menu items are clearly marked, so it was wonderful to order with confidence and with lots of options. I of course, ordered loads of food and Mark opted for plain naan, basmati rice and water! I’m telling you, Husband. Of. The. Year.
The Chicken Ruby Murray, this beautiful tomato based curry, was my absolute favorite dish from the many that I tried. With a mild heat and many complex layers of spices and flavor it outshines any curry I have had before, without any fuss. For those curious, as I was, “Ruby Murray” is actually cockney rhyming slang for “curry”. While we don’t have to understand all that, you do need to know just how life changing this curry it is!
Dishoom‘s description of their CHICKEN RUBY:
A good and proper curry redolent with spice and flavour. Tender chicken in a rich silky ‘makhani’ sauce, best mopped up with a Roomali Roti.
I am grateful that the internet had quite a few renditions of this exact dish from Dishoom, the recipe I worked from being from The Food I Eat, written by an East London food blogger, with an extensive knowledge of the London food scene, restaurants, recipes and all the latest trends. She was sent the recipe for Chicken Ruby Murray by Dishoom themselves a few years back, so I knew I was in very good hands.
I love this curry served one steamed basmati rice but it’s also delicious on cauliflower rice.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, coconut oil or ghee
- 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 2 lbs (boneless and cut into 2 inch cubes)
- 5 green cardamom pods
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- several dried chillis (Dishoom recommends Kashmiri red chili pod*)
- 3 large onions, chopped
- 1 tablespoon ginger paste (see notes)
- 2 tablespoon garlic paste (see notes)
- 3 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
- 1½ tablespoons whole cumin seeds
- 4 medium-sized (or 3 large) tomatoes, chopped
- sea salt, to taste
- fresh cilantro (to garnish)
- Start by toasting the spices in a dry pan. Toast until lightly toasted and very fragrant. Grind with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Set aside.
- Heat the oil or ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan over a medium-heat, and add the cardamom, bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon sticks and chilli until they start to crackle and release their flavors. Add the onion and sauté for about 5-7 minutes, or until the onions begin to caramelize slightly, then add the ginger and garlic pastes, then add in the freshly ground coriander and cumin powders.
- Add in the chopped tomatoes, the tomato paste and the chicken. Turn the heat to high. Allow the curry to simmer for about 15-20 minutes or so. The chicken should be juicy and tender – but not pink, so be sure to check before serving. Garnish it with fresh cilantro, and serve with steamed basmati rice, cauliflower rice, gluten-free naan and/or papadum
You can certainly use pre-ground toasted coriander and cumin, but I find toasting the whole spices and grinding by hand to bring the most aromatic and freshest depth of flavor.
To make ginger and garlic paste: separately peel and roughly chop a 2-3-inch chunk of fresh ginger and the same with a whole head of garlic (I usually made two heads at a time and save the extra)
Add the ginger to your high speed blender or food processor, add a small amount of water, a teaspoon or two and process until a smooth paste is formed. Set aside. Rinse the blender or processor and do the same with the garlic. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
For gluten-free friendly naan check out these recipes: