Gharana Street Food Night: a culinary tour of India

Every Saturday from 7 pm onwards, the space before the entrance of Gharana (the Indian restaurant in Holiday Inn, Barsha – Dubai) is transformed into a quaint Indian bazaar. Saturdays bring in ‘Street Food Night’, an ode to the delicacies sold by street vendors across India.

We dined at Gharana last night, and were transported to an exotically colorful world of Indian cuisine and music, a heady mix reminiscent of novels by Jhabvala.

The interiors are styled to resemble a Mughul Emperor’s courtyard. Marbled arches, bejeweled seating, complete with a plush silver swing right at the entrance.

gharana dubai interiors swing

A band of singers sporting traditional Indian instruments of tabla, flute and harmonium take center stage. They reenact Bollywood favorites, many from the melodious sixties. We are haunted by the love ballads of Kishore Kumar, and a touch of Rafi. The out of sync crooning by the couple at the next table abruptly brings us back to the present.

The singers have a carefree, jovial air about them; they wave enthusiastically at guests and seem in trance with the soulful music they are creating.

At Gharana, you can even request a special song, and dedicate it to that special someone you happen to be dining with.

gharana live music

No a la carte tonight. Gharana’s Street Food Night lets you eat your fill of mouthwatering chaat, spicy samosas, crisp deep-fried pakoras, freshly made vada pav and hot steaming chai in earthen clay pots.

gharana pani puri chaat
Punjabi Gol Gappe Chaat (also known as Pani Puri) : a crispy fried hollow puri, or pastry, filled with mashed potato and a very special spicy, tangy pani made of tamarind and fresh coriander juices.
gharana dahi papdi chaat
Papdi Chaat: a cocktail of tangy, hot and sour on a deep-fried crisp pastry topped with fresh yogurt and pomegranate seeds.
gharana samosa
Samosas: arguably the most popular tea-time snack in the subcontinent, these deep-fried pastries stuffed with a spicy potato filling were simply delicious!
gharana pakoda
Pakodas: crisp deep-fried onion fritters that taste even better when dipped with the accompanying mint chutney.
gharana vada pav
Vada Pav is an Indian vegetarian’s take on a burger if you please! A special mash of vegetables (predominantly potatoes) are cooked in a spicy mix, and sandwiched between well-buttered buns. A street-food favorite, especially in Mumbai.
gharana chai ki dukaan tea stall street food night
‘Chai Ki Dukaan’ translates to ‘Tea Shop’, and the one at Gharana has all the elements of a traditional stall; a steaming kettle, clay pots, cutting-chai glasses and a lantern.

If all that street food isn’t enough to satisfy your appetite, delve into the full-course buffet.

gharana buffet review
Gharana’s buffet consists of 3 vegetarian, and 3 non-veg dishes.
gharana biryani review
The Hyderabadi biryani is wonderful here; aromatically filled to the brim with decadent spices, and moist by every morsel.
gharana chicken
We couldn’t have enough of the Murgh Malai Kebab. The chicken pieces were beautifully tender, and marinated to perfection.
gharana fish curry
I would also recommend you go for generous helpings of the fish curry. It was arguably the best curry of the night, and even my seafood-phobic husband declared it to be a treat.

My daughter relished the sweet icy lassi, and the novelty of sipping it out of that cute little earthen clay pot.

gharana lassi

Hubby and I ordered drinks from Gharana’s regular drinks menu. Hubby had the ‘Long Island Iced Tea’, a heady concoction of rum, gin, vodka, tequila, Cointreau, lemon juice and Coke. Hubby said it was a pretty strong drink, not surprising given the long list of alcoholic ingredients, and no, it doesn’t have a hint of tea in it!

I had the ‘Fire on Ice’, a strikingly bright green mocktail consisting of kush syrup, lime juice, fizzy lemonade and actual slices of fresh green chilies. The ‘Fire on Ice’ was refreshingly zesty with a slight hint of chili heat.

gharana drinks

gharana bar
The bar at Gharana is well-stocked with many interesting mixes.

‘Gharana’ translates to a cultural grouping of sorts; your gharana would be the region you are from, the dialect you relate to, and even refers to different genres of Indian music. It is therefore a very apt name for a restaurant that combines the diverse heritage of food and music of four culturally rich regions of India. North, South East and West Indian cuisine is represented by all-time favorite dishes hailing from Punjab, Hyderabad, Lucknow and Jaipur.

gharana street food night menu

‘Gharana’ can also be read as ‘ghar-ana’; Hindi for ‘come home’. The magically exotic ambiance, the soulful music, and the flavorful dishes coupled with excellent service definitely put guests at ease, and make them feel pampered and at home.

gharana manager
We were hosted by the very helpful Mr. Ramesh Padmanabhan, F&B Manager at Gharana.

Gharana has a celebrity following. The ‘Gharana Hall of Fame’ showcases prominent personalities from the subcontinent including well-known musicians including Atif Aslam, Hariharan and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan who have frequented this amazing eatery with a difference.

Gharana’s Street Food Nights cost AED 95 per adult, and AED 50 for children between the ages of 6 to 12 years. Children under 6 dine for free.gharana hall of fame

They also have free Wifi, but with all that live entertainment and eating to do, I doubt you’ll have any motivation to browse online!

Visit the Gharana website for more information, and have a go at the street food night yourself!

Gharana Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato