Tag Archives: thali

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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ANANTA – never ending saga of delightful Indian cuisine

This is the story of a young child who would sit and watch his grandfather make a special spices mix at his ancestral home in the south Indian state of Kerala. His grandfather worked with eye-estimation and no fancy marked ladles. He could tell, at a glance, if a certain spice was in excess or short. This young child saw it all while inhaling the aroma of the spices.

Ananta welcomes you at Oberoi, Business Bay
Ananta welcomes you at Oberoi, Business Bay

This is not a published story or a famous one. But when you dine at the award-winning modern Indian restaurant, Ananta, at the plush Oberoi Hotel in Business Bay, Dubai, you get to understand the story of spices and how well that little child imbibed what he saw his grandfather do. That little child, not little anymore now, is head chef Saneesh Verghese, at Ananta. Little wonder that this restaurant picked up the 2014 BBC Good Food Award as the Best Indian Restaurant – Fine Dine.

Ananta puts down all the states of India on the diner’s plate. In rich hues of burgundy and warm caramel lighting, Ananta offers a generous view of the ‘tandoor’ section for all its guests to see how the tiger prawns and Indian breads come through.

I have known and savoured the Oberoi Group’s hospitality while in India. It felt like home in the warm hospitality and careful hosting of the staff. You will not forget the smiling face of the restaurant manager Ricardo who pays a fine eye to all detailing while service is on.

On my plate was the famed Dinner Thali and my wife opted for the Art of Ananta Degustation.

Tandoori Salmon
Tandoori Salmon

Chef Saneesh had me with the mild Kerala spiced tandoori salmon, served with a saffron chutney and mint. Have had variations of this in other restaurants but I am going to remember this one because of its flavouring.

5 Chutney Tandoori Platter - it's half empty coz I ate it before the photo got taken
5 Chutney Tandoori Platter – it’s half empty coz I ate it before the photo got taken

The other star dishes that stuck out on basis of imagination and assimilation of flavours was the 5 chutney and grills. The meats were tandoori tiger prawns, chettinad chicken tikka and mutton seekh kabab. Those were served on artistic strokes of 5 different chutneys namely the black garlic and truffle (I licked that till the plate shone), Kumquat orange and curry leave caviar (the green dots in the picture), apple and pomegranate jam, mint and tamarind.


The Ananta Thali
The Ananta Thali

The ‘thali’ came to my table after several rounds of savoury eats and a few that I stole from my wife’s tasting plate. When it sat in front of me, I was tussling up with myself as it looked no different from any other. There is only so much that you can do with a traditional ‘thali’. Therefore the real test lay in the taste. The silky planton leaf had a shaped lump of fragrant basmati rice with clarified butter and the accompaniments were butter chicken, Amritsari bhuna gosht, prawn Malabari curry, lauki ki sabzi (veggie of the day) and dal makhni. The thali took me from North to South India with every morsel of butter chicken and prawn Malabari curry. In my head, the Amritsari bhuna gosht made me drag out a few bragging restaurateurs to tell them ‘this is how it is made’! The masalas were rare and the mutton was soft as mash. Those that know me personally, know that I judge eateries on the dal they make. Oberois knew that trick for years. This dal makhni healed my heart for missing out on traditional dal makhni in India.

Magician Saneesh got us ‘wowed’ with his pista sesame naan and the very ‘un-put-down-able’ cheese ‘n’ truffle naan! I was almost asking for a lifetime supply of the latter.

Chocolate Chilly Dosa
Chocolate Chilly Dosa

A fancy palette cleanser was a mini dosa with the ancient recipe of chocolate with chilly.

The Artistic Dessert Palette
The Artistic Dessert Palette

Piece de resistance was dessert that did a fine impression of an artist’s colour palette. The colours had ras-malai, gulab jamun and kulfi. The finale is high-point of fine culinary aesthetics.

Ananta is one place to indulge, recurrently – till infinitum.