Holi is an ancient Hindu celebration which is also known as the Festival of Colours. It marks the end of winter and the start of the spring harvest season. All over India, the day after the first full moon in March, thousands of revellers pour into the streets and literally paint the town. Bonfires are lit and everyone throws vibrant powder bombs (gulal) in a riot of colour and mirth. Dishoom is a London chain of Indian restaurants and they organise their their own version of Holi. The organisers take over an old boxing hall in Bethnall Green, and offer a day party for families and an evening one for adults.
We went with our kids, armed with disposable t-shirts and sunglasses to protect our eyes from the powder. We were greeted with hot and spicy chai, and there was more to drink and eat from food stalls setup outside the hall. The boxing hall was bursting with revellers of all ages jumping up and down with traditional dancing sticks (dandiya). Holi powder balloons were released from balconies above, and organisers gave us 500 kilos of coloured powder to scatter our own. Soon, we were coated in a kaleidoscope of purples, yellows, oranges, greens and pinks until we looked like Krishnas, bouncing around to the sounds of Bombay and Bhangra beats.
It was a totally bonkers and immersive experience, loved by kids and adults alike. Be warned though, Holi is not recommended if you suffer from asthma or other breathing problems. Take some towels with you so you can clean up after yourself, and if you’re taking the tube home, be prepared to be stared at!
Dishoom is a London chain of four Bombay-style cafés. I met the owner when he was rounding up friends and family to come and taste his food as part of a focus group. It’s now a hugely successful chain, and you can always see queues snaking outside. Dishoom’s delectable and exciting menu includes mahi tikka, gunpowder potatoes and okra fries. There are some seriously tempting desserts and cocktails, including cooling kulfi ice-creams and Virgin Bombay Coladas. Dishoom don’t take bookings (unless you are in a larger group), so be prepared to queue.
Tiffany’s Book Launch
We went to a book launch at a friend’s house in Sheen. Tiffany is an accomplished cook, one of those friends you hope will invite you for dinner every weekend. She even grows her own produce in her garden. It’s The Good Life in Sheen!
Her first book A* in the Kitchen is a cooking bible for students. It’s brilliant and packed with easy, healthy recipes. It’s more than a book, it’s a student survival guide!