I have been to many Indian restaurants in Dubai and am surprised I didn't discover this one earlier. Located on the fourth floor of Taj Dubai, this restaurant is just beautiful - the entrance is a long passage that has a pattern created with transparent marble like stones on one wall, Indian art adorns the restaurant wall, the upholstery (cushions and chairs) is a mix of bright colours and prints and there's an open kitchen in the centre. The bar / lounge area is dramatic but stunning. There's desi lounge music (Indian Ocean and Asha Bhosle songs recreated) playing at moderate levels.
We were given a welcome drink (a refreshing, fruity non-alcoholic one) when we got there. Since it was my birthday, the restaurant manager, Mr. Sandeep, created a cocktail for me (that was complimentary). His team were around when we needed them but weren't intruding into our space. They were cheerful throughout the service time. There was attention to details as well - when we asked for the appetisers to be mild and not spicy, they made it a point to ensure the mains were the same. When our beverages were getting over, they were quick to recommend other ones based on the same flavours.
For appetisers we chose bhatti prawns (chargrilled with a kick of spices), gosht pasliyan (well done lamb chops paired with a beetroot chutney - the pieces of beetroot adding texture to the meaty dish), the malabar crab (oily but crunchy) and the standout dish - chicken tukda chaat (tangy pieces of chicken presented in a biscuity ring).
For mains we opted for the creamy, dark mud coloured black dal which was delicious. The butter chicken was tender pieces of chicken swimming in a velvety gravy. Our server recommended the martabaan ka meat (lamb curry served in a spice jar) - the dish tasted no different to home-cooked food (read: comforting and tasty). We ordered a side of garlic naan, roti and cheese kulcha and the kulcha was the best. Think soft bread stuffed with gooey cheese. Yum!
The finale was gulab jamun (milk dumplings that were moist and soft though they were not dunked in syrup), the khajoor anjeer halwa (quite like a pudding) was a sugar-free dessert but pretty sweet because of the natural sweetness of the dates and figs used in them. The mushy but delish dish was served in a Martini glass, and topped with edible gold foil.
It was extremely sweet of the manager to bring a platter of desserts as a birthday 'cake'. It included a chocolate dome - dark and glossy on the outside but a milk chocolate mousse inside. The platter also included a piece of gulab jamun, gajar halwa (a carrot pudding served in triangular shapes) and fresh berries. Rose petals were strewn around the plate.
The average cost with one alcoholic beverage is around AED 300 per person. It's not your everyday restaurant but worth considering if you're celebrating a special occasion. The team does go out of their way to make a memorable dining experience.
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