Tag Archives: desi

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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Dining At 25 Degrees North

25 Degrees North Facade
25 Degrees North Facade

Longitudinally speaking, Dubai is situated on 25 degrees north and that is why this restaurant adopts it as its name. However, to locate the swanky restaurant in Business Bay will take you a good GPS. This Business Bay outlet is the second establishment to open its doors, after the first outlet in Tecom. Plush interiors and  warm staff will make you feel welcome to this ‘north Indian delicacy-serving’ restaurant.

Dahi Bhalla
Dahi Bhalla

My friend Shyam and I submitted to the gastronomic assault that started with some refreshing Jal Zeera (popular Indian summer drink made with cumin, mint and black salts with a descriptor from Wikipedia) and Dahi Bhalla (lentil dumplings in cold yoghurt and sweet tamarind chutney). Good start.

Watermelon Chaat
Watermelon Chaat
Scrumptious Palak Chaat
Scrumptious Palak Chaat

It was followed up by some Watermelon Chat. They need to change the serving plate from the current flat one, as watermelon juice spilled on the table. Also enticing us was the scrumptious spinach fritters or Palak (Pakodey) Chat.  This was definitely the star!

Non-traditional looking Dahi Kebab
Non-traditional looking Dahi Kebab

Next up was Dahi Kebab (made with hung curd). They looked more like spring roles, as opposed to the traditional medallions, and were a little too ‘bready’.

Mutton Seekh Kebab
Mutton Seekh Kebab

Chef Ravinder then had some smooth mutton seekh kebabs and chicken malai kebabs sent our way. Those were demolished. With it came Amritsari Fish Tikka. I would have preferred the marinade to be a bit more spicy and not bordering on bland.

Kadhai Prawn
Kadhai Prawn
Nalli Nihari
Nalli Nihari

Main course featured Dal Palak (lentils with spinach), Kurkurey Bhindi (crispy okra), Paneer Makhni (cottage cheese in sweet buttery tomato gravy), Nalli Nihari (slow cooked lamb / mutton stew) and Kadai Prawns. Am afraid the Kurkurey Bhindi turned out to be Bhindi Pakodey (each okra was batter coated and not fried-till-crisp) and so, totally disappointing. The Kadai Prawns did not match up to the description in the menu. It was rather sweet as opposed to the under-cutting sense of heat. Maybe the sweetness of the red onions were up to foul play. What hit the mark was the Paneer Makhni and to some extent, Nalli Nihari.

Chicken Dumpukht Biryani
Chicken Dumpukht Biryani

I discussed the type of mutton being used with the restaurant manager, who graciously promised to look into it. All this was accompanied with a typical bread basket and some Kashmiri Pulao (replete with pomegranate seeds and dry fruits). There was some piping hot chicken dumpukht biryani served in a seal-able bottle.

Gulab Jamun & Ice Cream
Gulab Jamun & Ice Cream

Before desserts, we took a small walk, just to rearrange everything. Full marks for crispy jalebis and rabdi! Heavenly! And the rabdi (condensed milk with pitachios and cardamom) was thick and smooth. This was followed by a cocktail glass filled with ice-cream, chocolate sauce and tiny gulab jamuns swimming in them.

On my #BurpAndBelch meter: 2.5

#5WordFoodReview: Go For Starters And Desserts Map of 25 Degrees North Business Bay

Add That Coffee

Dubai is the place for fashionable brunches. If you do not like ‘fashionable’, then read the first sentence again without the adjective. The idea remains that breakfast is an option that is as expansive as fast food chains here.

There are breakfast options for all kinds of hunger. The kinds where you can walk-in in your floaters and not be judged to places where Dior or Chanel maybe the calling of the day. And there is a global menu to suit most palettes. From ‘desi’ Indian or Pakistani to Continental to Oriental even. Even the unpretentious omelette served in a roadside shack gains VIP status with myriad stuffing, and served with fancy tableware. I have also been with people who do not bother about what bread they eat but will ask for multi-cereal in upmarket breakfast joints.

I do enjoy this broadband of breakfast options. Shacks, to roadside eateries, to queuing up at Ikea, to a relaxed Safa Park break to fancy Citywalk names to the uber posh nosh at 5 stars! I have but one request! This is for those places that serve great breakfast but do not include the coffee. Please understand that the humble bread and egg and everything else that is used with tongue-twisting names leaves enough mark-up for you to brew me some good, strong coffee. So, keep as much as you want for your cash registers, just include the coffee with the breakfast. See, it is like buying a mobile phone that also has a transfer cable with the charger. You’d hate it if you had to buy them separately.

Hope you get the drift Mo’s, Citywalk. If not, you need a stronger (caffeine) kick!