Fine dining should not only taste good, it should expand the diner’s culinary horizons – and a meal at Khana Khazana star, Sanjeev Kapoor's most avant-garde offering yet, which is confidently helmed by Chef Akshay Nayyar, certainly does just that. The intimate space looks like the blend of a Lady Gaga music video set and a stylish Mumbai home, thanks to the mix of natural woods and traditional decoration with crackling metallic curtains and touches of shimmering silver.
Looking through the starter options on the menu – and all while enjoying an assortment of poppadums and chutneys (the coriander dip was our favourite) – options like Kandhari sumac prawns, Podi-crusted salmon with carrot koshimbir and Chicken parmesan tikka jumped out at us. But, after consultation with our knowledgeable and passionate waiter Herald – we decided on Basil pepper hamour tikka with raw mango salad and burnt garlic vinaigrette and Stone grilled lamb picartas with traditional haleem.
The fish was juicy, the seasoning actually came through (we often find with grills that all we taste is the meat), and the lamb dish – which is a fusion of Italian technique with Indian flavours – stood out. While the meat was tender, the humble lentils on the side of the dish stole the show. The side of haleem was a thick and rich lentil dish, that, thanks to being cooked for at least seven hours along with lamb, packed a serious flavour punch.
After polishing off the starters, we supped on mocktails until our mains arrived. We knew from the get-go that we wanted to try one of Sanjeev’s signature Ghaha dishes – which means a concoction cooked in an earthen pot, a process that promotes a natural, earthy flavour. We opted for the Slow-cooked lemongrass butter chicken in a velvety sauce finished with zataar and served with sundried tomato olive naan.
The light, creamy dish tasted not unlike a Thai curry thanks to the lemongrass, but had a distinct North Indian kick due to green cardamom, mace and nut paste. Our second main was inspired by the South, the Dum nariyali prawns simmered in a creamy coconut gravy stole the show for us, and while it was the most simple dish in terms of flavours, the quality of produce and the depth of the gravy was tremendous.
A trio of Indian desserts – the Gulab jamun went down very nicely – rounded off the meal; Sanjeev and Akshay, we salute you.
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Location: Melia Dubai