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Everyone loves a great success story. In the case of homegrown talent Chef Nikita Gandhi, the story first took root in our very own backyard before life brought it full circle four years later, accompanied with a seasoning of bright lights, fame and fortune.

Back in 2015, the 21-year-old business and finance graduate went on to become the youngest chef to win MasterChef India, the acclaimed reality cooking show. Four years and an experience-rich culinary journey later, Gandhi has returned to the UAE to make waves on the local food scene. She appears as the guest chef at a two-night-only dining experience at MasterChef, the TV Experience restaurant, a screen-to-plate restaurant concept at Millennium Place Marina.

Her Eid Al Fitr contribution is a limited-edition vegetarian five-course menu that will be served only on June 6 and 7 at the restaurant. Gulf News tabloid! had the opportunity to sample the experience before the table will be set for patrons.

The evening began with Gandhi’s spicy kiwi mimosa mocktail, a heady blend of the sour fruit, infused with a green chilli mint popsicle and elderflower tonic water. As the Mercury continues to soar in the mid-40s, this is definitely a welcome concoction.

The five-course menu opens with the BlackOut pani puri, a charcoal puri filled with mango and pineapple salsa, along with passion fruit foam. Unfortunately for lovers of this crispy fried hollow balls, there’s only one piece that will make its way to your table, so savour it while you can.

The following course is a paneer tikka empanada, flavoured with a hint of mozzarella. The spice levels definitely favoured the non-Indian palette, but the accompanied vegetable puree dip upped the overall taste a few notches.

Visitors will get a choice between two mains: the Indian-inspired eggplant Parmesan (crispy eggplant layered with ricotta and makhani sauce); or the wild mushroom koftas with warm pumpkin sauce and truffle glazed naans. For the sake of the review, we were able to sample both and have to say, the eggplant Parmesan — despite its parched countenance — won out.

That said, the truffle glazing on the naan was, frankly, a brilliant idea and one that many of us would surely love to attempt at home as well.

As we scooped up that last bite of the naan, we decided a much deserved rest was needed from the courses before the dessert would roll out. The kokum granite (mint tea sphere with roasted black grapes) palette cleanser was much needed for the grand finale.

Nikita’s stuffed kulfi bar, as she likes to call it, is reminiscent of childhoods spent chasing the ice-cream man, as he cycled up with his packed cooler of goodies. The dessert plate is a choco-bar, with a centre filling of pistachio barfi and ice-cream and was the highlight of the meal. The plate comes with a selection of berries and fruit preserves that is the proverbial cherry on top.

Wash it all down, if you dare, with a mug of digestive tea, bursting with fennel, star anise and fresh herbs, to complete the dining experience.


What: Nikita Gandhi limited-edition five-course menu.
When: On June 6 and 7 only for dinner, from 7pm until 11pm.
Where: MasterChef, the TV Experience at Millennium Place Marina.
Cost: Priced at Dh260 with soft drink pairing and Dh360 with grape and cocktail pairing.