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.
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.
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.
If all that street food isn’t enough to satisfy your appetite, delve into the full-course buffet.
My daughter relished the sweet icy lassi, and the novelty of sipping it out of that cute little earthen clay pot.
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’ 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’ 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 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.
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!