Dubai: “It’s a marriage of street foods of India and the Arab world that we are trying to create,” says chef Manoj Radi as he describes the offerings at Tableya restaurant that recently opened in Business Bay.
As I walked into the place last week, it immediately reminded me of the streets of Beirut. A small box on the table that looked like a dustbin on a road read “Al-Tanseef”, meaning, “Keep it clean”. At this point, I started warming up to the concept.
First up, the appetiser arrived on a small bicycle basket. The khari, an Indian snack, was smeared with japalenos and zaatar for a sensational flavour. This was followed by an innovative katafi chaat on a steam iron. This was the first time I tasted a non-sweet version of the katafi and was mighty impressed.
The pre-starters were followed by Tableya’s signature ‘Hanging vada pops’. As the name suggests the vada pav was suspended on barbeque sticks with a small green chilli on the top to give it a street-side essence. This was basically the cult Mumbai snack, minus the mess, thankfully.
I opted for a modest main course. However, at Tableya modesty comes with drama. The pav bhaji was served in a three-tier tiffin, much like those used by Mumbai’s dabbawallas. The main ingredient of the famous snack – potato – was replaced with butternut squash. If this sounds outlandish to you, I didn’t realise it till I was told.
The dessert is a sincere recommendation. Known as ‘Citrus garden’, this platter has orange flavoured gulab jamun, passion fruit rasgulla, mango rasmalai and cardamom sponge cake. Every bite was worth the calories.
A secret that chef Radi shared towards the end of my ‘street’ adventure was that he uses home-grown vegetables.
He uses the same product as most street vendors in India, like the Tata salt and Amul butter. He believes that brings the perfect Indian flavour to his dishes.