Tag Archives: cuisine

Maharaja Bhog: eat like a king!

Indian hospitality is fabled. So much so that restaurants, the world over, offer the royal Indian hospitality. If you are looking to spoil yourself or indulge your family and friends in some ‘food royalty’, then take them to Maharaja Bhog, nestled in Ansar Mall, Karama, Dubai.

Wife and I sat by the spice walls in the restaurant, waiting to be fed till we’d give up. Hospitality is tradition here. Maharaja Bhog started its culinary journey in 2011 and has outlets in Mumbai, Bangalore, Houston (US) and Dubai. Buttermilk arrived at the table. And we started off with that.

The delicious royal thali at Maharaja Bhog
The delicious royal thali at Maharaja Bhog

In olden days, a meal in a royal household was a grand affair. Varied metal tableware spoke of opulence. The main plate is a big plate, with a rather huge diameter and in it fits in various bowls in a stellar line up. Each bowl has a different dish that is ladled into it. Each dish is made with ingredients that are chosen for royal consumption with a sign of nuts, saffron or clarified butter. The rest of the space on the plate is for rice and different breads. Aristocratic families in various parts of India, still like to eat in this traditional manner. Certainly not meant for the middle class, lunch-on-the-go, sorts. Dining, royalty style, is certainly meant for the Indian “la dolce vita”. Meanwhile, an array of snacks arrived on the plate. Those appetizers are served with different chutneys that heighten taste buds and whet up your appetite.

I didn't know beetroots could do that!
I didn’t know beetroots could do that!

Maharaja Bhog makes me feel, just that. The name of the restaurant means exactly what I explained laboriously – feast for a king. The beauty of dining at MB is that mathematically speaking, you will never be eating the same food twice. Unless you work there and eat there. 30 days 30 menus is what they go by. Each dish is beautifully made, keeping in mind the 4 pillars of taste. All dishes are vegetarian and come from the 2 western states of Rajasthan and Gujarat. I was so surprised to see red coloured ‘puri’s. I learnt that those were made from beetroot. I was so happy with the lovely experimentation that I didn’t refuse any servings of those deep red shallow fried bread.

Remember to say hello to the mild-mannered restaurant manager Susheel-ji. Watch carefully as the army of servers do not talk to each other or scream across the floor. Instead, they have a sign language by which they communicate what is required on each table. It is a strange pantomime act and it gets food on your plate each time. Next time, I will learn it, for sure. I wasn’t very sure when I got bitter gourd served. I remember my mother molly-coddling me to eat some. I tried a little of it and immediately attacked it for more. The bitterness of the gourd was carefully neutralised by the sweetness from the onions. I think mom would have been happy to see me eat this.

This was my 3rd visit to the outlet and it has never let me down. Consistency of taste is what it takes for anybody to make a name in the F&B industry. Maharaja Bhog’s corporate chef Gulabji is the reason for this. He is responsible for training and operation in all branches. With a robust mechanism like this, little surprise that Maharaja Bhog is also gearing up to have more restaurants. Many more cities across the globe will be welcome to Indian hospitality and taste.

Table reservations recommended. There gets a long waiting-line on weekends.

#BurpAndBelch meter : 4.5 burps

#5WordFoodReview : Recommend Skip Breakfast For Lunch

 

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SUFRA Sunny Saturdays

Sufra Sunny Saturdays
Sufra Sunny Saturdays

It takes courage to do things low-key in Dubai. The minimalist and quiet restaurant Sufra at the newly opened Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights on Oud Metha Road is the newest entrant on the Dubai weekend brunch scene.

Sufra at Hyatt Regency DCH
Sufra at Hyatt Regency DCH

Sufra is a warm, destination restaurant offering Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine along with a few Indian culinary offerings as well. Sufra means table cloth in Arabic and hence the focus on the region’s cuisine.

This September, Sufra launched a late brunch that allows guests to relax, and eat heartily. And it is called Sufra Sunny Saturday!

Apart from the food that is available at the stations, the brunch menu features eggs cooked your way along with the traditional eggs benedict, steak and hash. If you are an egg-lover, this is the menu that will warm your heart with the golden yolks and supple albumen.

Eggs Benedict - every egg is cooked to eggs-act standars
Eggs Benedict – every egg is cooked to eggs-act standards

I got talking to the chef who told me their egg story. Each egg is cooked for 1 hour 45 minutes in a controlled temperature that ensures that each and every egg is cooked to perfection, with the right yolk consistency, in case you like to gravy your dish with yolks. And so, when I delicately forked into the eggs benedict that was served in a saucepan, it was oozy yet supple. And it took me to egg-heaven!

Sliders - order chicken or beef
Sliders – order chicken or beef

Talk to the staff. They know the food on the menu and are good with their suggestions. Like the peachy, coconutty mocktail that was so good that I asked for seconds. You will also see chefs, walking over, table to table, to serve shawarmas and sliders. this slider was a tender beef patty with handsome dollop of caramelised onions. This is stuff that Saturdays are made of!

Grab the Crab Cake
Grab the Crab Cake

Special mention of this small but memorable crab cake. It was divine. You can taste the crab meat and also savour the flavouring. Do not be shy and ask for another one if you felt the first ‘disappeared’ too quickly!

Mushroom Toast with Poached Egg
Mushroom Toast with Poached Egg

Since I hadn’t had my fill of eggs, I ordered the mushroom toast, served with an egg on top. Poached to perfection. Especially when the yolk seeps over the caramelised mushrooms, you know, life is good.
20150912_141223Call up Sufra, reserve a table and eat a hearty brunch. Be it perennial favourites like Waldorf salad or Baba Ganouj, or trying out their brunch menu, you will be delighted with the quality and taste of food on your table.

Sufra Sunny Saturdays priced at:

  • AED 205 including alcoholic beverages
  • AED 140 including soft beverages
  • AED 70 for children aged 6-12 years

For reservations, call +971 4 553 1272

#BurpAndBelch meter: 4.5

#5WordFoodReview: Focus Is On Food. Period.

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#BurpAndBelch is nominated for Best Asian Blogger for #MasalaAwards2015. To vote, log onto: masala.com/awards

Food Woes At Joe’s

Dear Joe

How you doin’ buddy? Funny, I don’t know who you are or where you have come from but I understand that you run this restaurant, at multiple places in Dubai. Listen up pal, you have got to do something about your food. I mean, seriously. You have a British and Italian menu that looks to like Jeremy Clarkson got stood up by some Italian car dealer.

Photo wall at Joe's
Photo wall at Joe’s

So, if you have a plush looking place, your food needs to match up. And taste good, more importantly. I mean your food doesn’t match the pictures on the wall. Those are fabulous shots. Can’t say the same for your grub.

First, the “good”s: the sea food soup was tasty and refreshing. The free-range omelettes aux choix was cooked well.

And now, the “not-so-good”s: I clearly asked for lots of mushrooms in my omelette but there hardly were any. Either your garcon has retention problems or you have problems retaining your chef.
The french fries were the cold storage variety. Just like any other fast food chain. And they were stashed on so high, clearly looked like you tried hiding your 4 slices of club sandwich around them. Plating issues, eh?
The salad leaves had some insipid dressing. I mean, don’t dress them if they make no difference with a dressing on.
The pasta with crispy prawns turned out to be fried prawn balls. Okay, I’d still take that but had it not for the tasteless insides of it. There was no seasoning or spices that could have elevated the simple pasta dish.

Now, considering the above, your menu is priced steep. I mean, make me feel good for buying a 20 buck tee-shirt priced at 120 bucks from a high fashion store. Ease my pain, will ya?

Clearly your menu is trying to pay for the  rent at #TheBeachDubai.

You take care, bruh. Call me if you need any help.

Cheers

Dev

#BurpAndBelch meter: 2.5 burps

#5WordFoodReview: I Wont Pay Your Rent


Joe’s Cafe at The Beach Dubai,
Jumeirah Beach Residences 

Weekdays  06:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Weekends  06:00 AM – 01:00 AM

Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa

I admit that I was very nervous as I promised my wife that I will cook fish. This was the first time I was attempting to be friends with fish. The last statement might come as a surprise to many who are acquainted with me and my vernacular belonging. I was ready with everything, including a new griddle that I bought. And so, with all the courage and confidence I could amass and special blessing from Jamie Oliver, I set off to cook salmon steaks. I was super-delighted with the results. A good dinner and happy wife are strong signs of posting the recipe on my blog.

I started with 2 fresh salmon steaks. I had the skin on. Was not too sure if I should cook with skin, so decided to knife it off. The steak might have some bones. Use your knife to find it and pluck them out. Salt both sides and rub in some olive oil. Let it rest.

Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa
Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa – Need to better food photography

For the salsa, I used 2 medium-sized cucumbers and cut them into small pieces after peeling off the skin. Continued the same with a big tomato. Threw in 3-4 young leeks. Open up an avocado and scoop out the flesh. Roughly chop it up and put some lemon juice over it to stop discolouration. Throw them all together in a bowl, add red chilli flakes, pinch of salt and lots of lemon juice. A quick swig of olive oil and some chopped mint on top. You could add in a couple of spoons of orange or pineapple juice. Mix them all well and keep aside.

Meanwhile, put the griddle on the stove till it is as hot as Ramsey’s temper. Put in the salmon steaks and hear them scream on the griddle. Keep them on for 7-8 minutes on the side and then turn them over. It will look nice and well done. A little extra grilling will keep the steak crunchy on the outside and soft and flaky on the inside. Repeat the same for the other side. I was experimenting on getting the criss-cross griddle marks correct. Will perfect them the next time. Take them off heat and allow them to rest a while. You may notice the juices in the griddle pan; pour them back on the steaks.

Now plate them. Steak first and spoon generous amounts of the salsa on top. Take a picture. Sit down and eat well. And do not look at the kitchen sink. That is for another time.

Ode to the Humble Kathi Roll

Most South Asians, especially from the sub-continent, will know the pleasure of sinking their teeth into a hot and juicy ‘kathi’ roll! It is a unique preparation that is something in the middle of a starter and main course. And while on the subject, this needs to stated that the best ‘kathi’ rolls are the ones that are made by the street-side vendors.

Let me into the simplicity of this humble ‘kathi’ roll. A toasted flatbread is the base. No inter-continental cousins like burritos can substitute the flatbread. In India and Pakistan, it is called ‘parantha’. So, while the flatbread is being toasted, an egg is beaten well with some salt and chilly. A splash of oil, throw in the egg emulsion and as soon as you see the egg firming up like an omelette, place the flatbread on the semi-liquid egg. Flip it over, a couple of times and take it off the heat. Chopped onions, salt, pepper, squeeze of lemon and chilly sauce rolled into the egg ‘kathi’ roll. That, my friend, is the quintessential ‘kathi’ roll.

Varieties are also available. Egg. Mutton. Chicken. Egg Mutton. Egg Chicken. Double Egg. Double Egg Chicken. Double Egg Mutton. Here, take the tissue and wipe that drool off. Oh, I haven’t mentioned any vegetarian options as they just simply don’t qualify as a ‘kathi’roll. Apologies, veggies.

I have seen enough of those being made. I can visually tell if a certain roll will be carry the right DNA of a Calcutta ‘kathi’ roll. I have tasted some delectable rolls on the roadsides of Kolkata and Delhi. I know the imposters as well. They never will see me as a repeat customer.

My search for that delicious ‘kathi’ roll took me to Shiraz Golden Restaurant. The name can be a little misleading – it has nothing to do with the Iranian city, or wine. Shiraz in Bur Dubai serves Awadhi food – food that was native to the royal kitchens of the Nawabs of Awadh or Oudh during the British Raj in India, specially during the life and times of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah.  Well, the man certainly had good taste in food. No wonder that those recipes are now a hand-me-down reality for food buffs like me. Shiraz originally opened up in Calcutta, India’s gourmet capital. This is their second and first international outlet.

I need to clarify, that I work on a simple principle when it comes to food. If the simple can me made in a lip-smacking way then the exotic dishes are worthy of a try. And a Kolkata food joint needs to be taste-tested by asking for the ‘kathi’ roll.

As I hungrily tore off the tissue, I could tell that this ‘kathi’ certainly was rich with promise. The first bite in it certified that it was a thorough-bred ‘kathi’ roll. Ah! The pleasure of the crumbly exterior that holds a fluffy egg; wafting with the smell of the green chilly and chilly sauce.

Shiraz certainly passed the ‘kathi’ roll test. And now, for over a year, I have been a regular and a loyal customer; using it as a venue to catch up with friends. And whatever be ordered from the menu – be it the Awadhi biryani, or chicken chaap or the mutton rezala, it all starts with the ‘kathi’ roll!

5 burps on the Burp-o-meter!

Small Fry

I fail to understand the deep-seated connection between food and fries. In case you are a little baffled, prepare to be baffled even more.

Eating out in the UAE is a foodie’s dream come true. So many cuisines to choose from. Such rainbow variety tickles the palette. Food is readily available everywhere, across all the Emirates and is presented well. And the common thing in all this is, fries on the side.

French fries finds its way in just about anything that you can imagine to order. Burgers always had them. Shawarmas have them stuffed inside. Kebabs have them jostling for plate. Fish come with the chips. They can also be ordered as a separate plate! Fries sure enjoy some status here in the UAE! Or do they?

Having said that, the first thing that also gets thrown in the bin, in any food court is also the humble fry! Abundance of fries on all plates of varying cuisine have made them commonplace. So when the kebab or shish-tawook or burger is over, the fries slide off into the trash. I wonder how many kilos of potatoes get wasted everyday. I have also made umpteen requests on radio on my show not to order chips or to moderate quantity and not throw them. I do have my doubts if anybody heeded that advise. Hey! The chips come in cheap!

So I started this new habit of not asking for fries. Wherever I went to eat, I made sure that I request the waiter not to give me any fries. Now, a simple request like that threw me some unexpected reactions.

In a posh Iranian restaurant, the waiter froze when I pleaded that my cello kebabs and rice should not have any fries. He counter-pleaded by saying that the fries come free. I smiled and tried again. He looked baffled. Whispered that the cost of the fries is in-built in the dish I was ordering. He just didn’t understand why I was refusing them. Quite audaciously, he got the fries stacked beside the fragrant rice and I immediately had it sent back to the kitchen. The Iranian, now quite out of patience and understanding, gave me my cello kebabs sans the fries muttering that there would be no reduction in prices for the ‘no-fries’.

At a popular Lebanese restaurant, my request elicited smiles and hushed-asides! I was seriously wondering, what the big deal with no-fries is! I just don’t want them, because I would waste them. I said exactly that to the (almost filmstar-like) Lebanese boys behind the food counter. They exchanged something in Arabic that I wasnt keen to find out and said to me that everybody loves fries’! Nobody ever asked not be served them.

Now that is exactly my point. Obesity is huge fatty monster in the UAE and some of the blame is earned by the fries as well. Supermarkets have bags of frozen potatoes sliced into fries. Those cold fries suck more oil and salt than freshly cut potatoes. Deep fried potatoes doesn’t sound like a ‘hearty’ idea! Nobody cared. Local families gorge on fast food and the pile of fries is enough to feed a flood-afflicted family.

I am also violated at the use or should I say, the forced mating of these mis-placed French Fries. Wonder who came up with the idea of stashing fries with everything? Come off it. Please.

Clearly, the over-use of the simple finger fries has left it with no gastronomic status. It is stray. It is pedestrian. It is orphan.