Any Diwali menu must represent India’s diversity, says Ajay Negi, Chef de Cuisine at Taj Dubai's Bombay Brasserie. “Diwali is celebrated throughout India and each region has its own ways of making it special. So we’ve picked dishes from across the land for our set menu.” Besides the chaats and kebabs (orange-marinated fish, anyone?), he’s also brave enough to add Goan pomfret recheado and Surti dal with peanuts. The highlight, he says, is a Tiramisu dome with a gulab jamun at its centre.
Details From 7pm, October 19, Dh295 per head. Call 04 438 3100
“Diwali brings back fond memories of my childhood,” says Ashish Kumar, Head Chef, Moombai & Co. “Especially of Kaju Katli because Diwali was the only occasion I could binge on these without any guilt or doubt. As a kid, I was hardly lighting crackers, I found happiness helping myself to the traditional sweets at home.” The diamond-cut cashew burfi, above, is on his 12-course menu alongside crisp chiwda, crumbly besan sev and rich lamb biryani.
Details 11am-11pm, October 18 to 21, Dh180 per person. Call 04 501 8607
MATHURA AND MORE
The birthplace of Krishna, the Hindu god of compassion and love, inspires chef Saneesh Varghese at the Oberoi Dubai’s Ananta. “Our menu features dishes from in and around Mathura and Northern India,” he says. “Besides the traditional thali we also have live stations, for chaat and mithai.” Highlights? Chena Gujiya, Motichoor ladoo, Apple jalebi and Balushahi, as well as a selection of vegetarian and meat kebabs, including the Paneer atish.
Details October 18 to 22, Dh299 per head. Call 04 444 1407
DESSERT FOR DIWALI
Diwali calls for an overdose of sweets, so pastry specialist Shaswat Shivam, the Executive Chef at Jodhpur restaurant, has a complimentary dessert platter for diners. “Diwali is when we exchange sweets and love, and that is exactly the inspiration behind my creation of the Diwali dessert platter, which has a Phirni Brulee with Fresh Fruit and Mithai Petits Fours,” he says. “The recipe is a unique take on French petits fours, which is made of sponge cake. We’ve used fresh fruits for a healthier option.”
Details 7pm onwards, October 18-20, call 04 355 9846
NEW YEAR, NEW FOOD
The season signals the start of the Hindu New Year, an occasion Vipin Kala, Executive Chef at Ashiana, over at the Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel & Towers, has picked to launch a new menu. There’ll be the classics, he says, but expect new signatures too. “Diwali is a time to be around family and friends. We have created a menu filled with the warmth of home-cooked food and traditional recipes. Dishes such as Channa chaat, Paneer Kadai and homestyle Gajar ka Halwa brings back the nostalgia of being back home.”
Details Set menu and buffet, October 18 to 21, Dh149 per person, call 04 228 1111
GOOD VS EVIL
For his first Diwali as Head Chef at Khyber Dubai on the Palm Jumeirah, Faizan Ali goes to the heart of the festival. “The whole Diwali experience at Khyber takes its inspiration from the spiritual significance of the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair,” he says. “With that in mind, Khyber will be offering an authentic family-style menu, with a live chaat station, for guests to savour the tastes of home.”
Details 5pm-11pm, October 19-28, prices from Dh165, inclusive of lassi. Beverage packages extra
ROYAL AND RURAL
Seventy per cent of India lives in its villages, and Gana Ram Choudhury, Corporate Chef at Khandani Rajdhani in Karama, wants to celebrate their tremendous contribution to the country while nodding to the legendary princely states of yore — all in one platter of unlimited food, above. “The thali is a great way to combine multiple flavours from rural North Indian cuisines and palatial culinary delights of Rajasthan,” he says. Expect a different menu every day of the festival.
Details October 17-21, priced Dh45 per person, call 04 334 7977
In line with his progressive modern philosophy, Pradeep Khullar, now at Mint Leaf of London, has rolled out an eight-course menu that he says will bring joy to diners. “Our menu features the classic dishes diners expect but with our eclectic take on them,” he says. While a crumbed beetroot kebab with saffron chutney is unusual enough, his Tofu & Lotus Stem Barrel with Punjabi Kadhi is in line with his philosophy of bringing unusual ingredients to Indian tables. Similarly, he upgrades the classic rasmalai with a frappe and cookie crumbs.
Details Noon onwards, October 16-21, Dh250 each, call 04 706 0900