Just like how the winter ground needs spring, so does Dubai need rain to quench its thirst. February started off with some inclement weather; that forced me under the blankets, but thankfully my resident doctor had just the right prescription to uplift my spirits – a trip to Carnival by Tresind – and boy, did the intimate dinner tÃªte-Ã -tÃªte do me wonders? I love good food. I love a good story. And when you have a mashup of these, you know you’re in for a fabulous time.
Upon opening the doors to this trendy restaurant (conveniently located in DIFC) – it felt like only yesterday that I was here to tuck into some ‘magical creations’.Â I reckon that’s the power of good memories; they don’t fade in a hurry. This time around, I was keen to check out their season 2 offerings – but I had a lot of questions. A curious one, I am; a curious I will be. The wonderful Chef Paritosh enlightened me patiently; and all the while had a huge smile on his face. Bless him, as I witnessed every fibre of his being talk about the menu with gusto and passion in his eyes. He proclaimed that Indian cuisine isnât just about biryanis or the popular chaat street food. There is a lot more to this wonderful country that unfortunately doesn’t figure in the menus of mainstream restaurants. And the season 2 offering is here to set this right – to showcase the hidden gems found in Tier 2 Indian cities.
We were escorted to our table (it helps to have a reservation, as this restaurant fills up rather quickly) by a friendly attendant and after being presented with cold towels to freshen up â the evening proceedings began with a welcome shower of bubbles. Â And who doesnât like bubbles floating in the air eh?
I noticed that the menu didnât have any drinks; but thatâs because the bartender has a penchant for conjuring up drinks on the spot – based on the mood and the guestâs favourite fruit. I must confess, like a bit of interactivity whilst dining; so obliged the bartender. Suffice to say, I was in an excited mood, and passion fruit is what Iâm currently hooked on. So what do you reckon the bartender served? Loâbehold, I was presented with a mango-passion fruit mocktail, that had me going for seconds and more â it was THAT good. Itâs a different thing that it was playfully presented in a glass skull; that did raise an eyebrow.
There was no let up on the creativity though â with the amuse-bouche being a pink variant of the much loved Pani Puri (common street snack found in various parts of India) â and the spiced water contained within a test tube. Apparently, the pink variant of the pani puri was created specifically to celebrate Breast Awareness month (in October); but such was its popularity, that it is now a regular fixture of this new menu.
Next up, was another street food staple Dhahi Vada â albeit prepared table side, with liquid nitrogen coming into play.
The result was a beautiful play on textures; the pomegranate seeds and fried flour balls offered crunch; whilst the ginger slices lent a nice kick, only to be balanced by the chilled nitrogen-esque yoghurt. Yum!
As the evening progressed, I came across the ‘Dragon Chicken’ â a dish so good that it made me clap with delight. Hand-crafted as a tribute to India’s North Eastern region; it featured marinated chicken wrapped in wei-wei noodles, and blow torched table-side. It was a perfect union of tangy and spice flavour profiles; with the chicken tender from the inside, yet crisp from the outside.
On the same note, the Parsi styled shami kebab deserves a special mention – very high on flavour, with a crispy egg coating, the meat just falls apart in your mouth. I for one couldn’t stop myself from having seconds. Little bundles of delight.
Iâve come across some ingenious palate cleansers whilst out and about; but nothing prepared me when the Chef presented murabba over some dry ice. What is murabba you may ask? Essentially it is a sweet fruit preserve used widely in certain parts of India, traditionally as folk medicine. The one served by Chef Paritosh, happened to be a spiced strawberry, sprinkled with cumin seeds. And I have to admit, it brought a smile to my face.
If the ‘Dragon Chicken’ and the ‘Parsi-style kebabs’ made me sit up and clap with delight, then what followed next simply made me all warm and fuzzy from within. As far as I’m concerned, and possibly ‘the’ best dish featured in their new menu is the Gingalala – which is essentially Goan prawn curry. Having recently visited Goa, this delicious dish perfectly encapsulated many a great memory of dining at beach shacks. The prawns were served with shell intact, which added to the richness of flavour; and the meat just melted in my mouth. The accompanying rice pancakes acted as perfect foil to lap up the curry. Keep aside the cutlery – this is one dish, you’ll be thankful you’ve used your hands.
Keeping in line with the menu theme, another standout was the ‘Pind da Khama’ affair – rustic in presentation, the taste will surely hark back to a time well spent living the simply rural life in Northern India villages.Â Served thali style, it features mustard leaf vegetables (tempered with mustard oil and mixed with spices), corn flower bread, homemade butter, onion/horse radish chutney and masala buttermilk. This is as authentic as it gets.
To close the evening on a high note, youâve got to try the caramel based dessert. Brought to your table in a miniature oven, the elements of awe-inspiring creativity remain intact. And yes, the dessert itself is decadent, rich and ohâ so sweet. Perfect way to call it a night, without feeling like youâve gained 100kgs.
All in all, it feels good to witness Carnival come into its own, carving a unique personality that is different from Tresind. And an identity that will take it places, should it stick to the winning season 2 formula of showing us more of the underrepresented India, and the many wonders this land has to offer. Cheers to a job well done.