Sheraton Dubai Creek is one of the city’s oldest hotels, located by the picturesque creek, Deira – Dubai. It’s Indian restaurant has been reinvented with a touch of stardom in the past year; Michelin stars that is!
Ashiana restaurant’s menu has been recreated by Chef Vineet Bhatia who happens to be the only Indian chef to have acquired a 3 Michelin Star rating, and our dinner at Ashiana by Vineet was a wonderful journey into sampling the magic of this culinary maestro.
‘Ashiana’ translates into ‘a happy place’. The interiors take on a subdued regal elegance with all the deep mahogany carved wood and vintage-style Maharajah paintings. Even the entrance has a castle-like architecture, welcoming guests into an exotic yet cozy, refined yet unpretentious dining space.
We were hosted by Ashiana by Vineet’s Restaurant Manager Mr. Sajesh. Sajesh has been a part of the Ashiana team ever since the menu got revamped by Chef Vineet. He is therefore very enthusiastic about the menu offerings, and is ever so helpful with making choices.
The beauty of Chef Vineet’s style of cooking is his deep rooted love and respect for his motherland, India. He plays with Indian flavor combinations, yet stays clear from tampering with the classics. His dishes are bold on flavor with unexpected twists, and presented with the glamour and pizzazz of fine-dining.
At any given Indian restaurant you can expect to be served a complimentary plate of poppadoms. At Ashiana by Vineet, these are served with two specially created chutneys: a Beetroot Yogurt Chutney and a Mango and Apricot Chutney.
Both chutneys have a familiarity of taste. They are chutneys you would have tasted before, but with the slightest of twist. The beetroot gives an otherwise ordinary savory yogurt dip a beautifully purple blush of color. I love Indian sweet mango pickle, but never had it combined with apricot. The apricot lends the chutney a slightly deeper body, yet perfectly blends in with the mango.
To whet the taste-buds, we were served a Broccoli Aloo Tikki with Onion Chutney. Aloo Tikki is a well-loved pan-fried Indian potato patty, and the addition of broccoli to this classic adds a subtle depth of flavor to the bite. The onion chutney is mildly spiced, and goes beautifully with the earthiness of the potato. On the side of the plate are splashes of tamarind and coriander chutneys, the traditional accompaniments with a tikki.
Unsure of what to order from the appetizers section, we went for the Ashiana Platter. The platter consists of four very different treats.
Below is the Chutney Chicken Tikka and Lamb Seekh Kebab.
The Chutney Chicken Tikka is a moist, succulent piece of tandoori chicken that has been basted in a decadently green chutney of fresh coriander and mint.
The Lamb Seekh Kebab was robust on meaty flavor, and had the perfect balance of heat without compromising on the harmony of spices that played on the taste-buds in the background.
The Ashiana Platter also includes Vegetable Samosas and Tandoori Prawns.
The Vegetable Samosas have a crisp filo pastry outer, and have been very generously stuffed with a spicy mixed vegetable mashup.
The Tandoori Prawns are jumbo in size, and pretty fleshy and dense per bite. The masala accentuates not only its aesthetic appeal, but its spice level goes beautifully well without overshadowing the delicate seafood flavor.
For our mains, Hubby ordered Ashiana’s bestseller, the Grilled Chilean Seabass.
How artful is the presentation of this dish?! But the true craftsmanship lies in the play of unexpected flavors.
Two generous portions of juicy grilled seabass rest on a bed of Coconut Pea Pulao.
Pulao is a rich Indian pilaf tempered with whole spices, and the one on this plate had a decadent texture and slight crunch of coconut that made the rice perhaps even more delightful than the seabass itself!
The pulao sits on a pool of coconut curry that has been accentuated with the fresh zestiness of kafir lime leaves. This is an unexpected twist on Indian meets Thai, and we lapped up on the gorgeous flavor combination.
For my main dish, I went for the Adraki Champaen.
The star of this dish is the succulent pieces of lamb chops that have been accentuated with the zing of ginger. It is served on a puddle of Cinnamon Lamb Jus, a continuation of the meaty spiced goodness. On the side sits a scoop of Saffron Upma.
Upma is a South Indian semolina dish, often served for breakfast. With the addition of saffron, this is the poshest upma I’ve ever eaten! It is also creative genius on Chef Vineet’s part to serve upma with lamb chops. A meat dish often calls for starch on the side. In Indian cooking, this would often be rice and in the West, mashed potatoes. The use of upma, a traditional starchy dish from a predominantly vegetarian South India, is unusual yet deliciously clever.
Chef Vineet seems to have a thing for samosas. We had a Vegetable Samosa in our appetizer platter, and a Lamb Samosa sits pretty on the Adraki Champaen plate. We even had a Peshawari White Chocolate Samosa for dessert!
Here is a look at the dessert platter at Ashiana:
The Peshawari White Chocolate Samosa is one of Chef Vineet’s signature desserts. The savory casing holds a decadent mix of finely grated coconut and white chocolate. It is fusion, yet very traditionally Indian all at once.
Ras Malai, or spongy cottage cheese dumplings served in sweetened milk, is a favorite across the Subcontinent. At Ashiana by Vineet, the well-loved dessert gets a pretty pastel green makeover with a pour-down of Pista Rabri (slow-cooked thickened milk with pistachio).
The platter also includes a pot of Khoya Brulee-Boondi. Chef Vineet gives the everyday Cream Brulee a decadent Indian makeover by using khoya (dried milk solid) to thicken the custard, and topping it off with crumbled Boondi ladoo.
The fourth dessert on the platter is the Gajrela and Black Cardamom Semi Freddo Cone. This is a very rich carrot halwa served with a very creamy, flavorful black cardamom accentuated semi freddo.
As we were tucking into these gorgeous desserts, Chef Bhaskar paid a visit to our table. He is the man who takes over in Chef Vineet’s absence and is entrusted with recreating each masterpiece to perfection. Chef Bhaskar has had a long association with Chef Vineet, and has worked with him on establishing his restaurant in Geneva. He was specially hand-picked from Geneva for Ashiana by Vineet by Chef Vineet himself.
Chef Bhaskar insisted we tried the Gulabi Gulab (which translates to ‘the rosy rose’)! Apt by its name, this dessert platter is very pretty, feminine and pink! A slice of rose cheesecake sits in the center, and the biscuit base has been replaced with India’s best loved sweet rose -flavored dumplings, the Gulab Jamun.
The cheesecake was gorgeous, but it was the Rose Petal Vanilla Bean Kulfi I fell madly in love with. This is a very dense, intensely flavored ice-cream, and I wish there was more of it on the plate. Surely they should serve this by itself as a dessert on its own?! Try it to believe it.
“Vineet Bhatia is that rarity, an Indian chef who invents; his cooking is clear flavour, robust, gimmick free.” –
Overall, Ashiana by Vineet is a gastronomous Indian affair. Chef Vineet’s play on flavors without the compromise on tradition is a testament to his love for all things Indian. For a truly fine-dining experience the Indian way, Ashiana by Vineet is a must-try.
Visit the Ashiana by Vineet website for more information, and table bookings.