Often the best food comes from the most modest of restaurants, and this is especially the case when it comes to a really good, masala-infused biryani.
One of our favorite old haunts for biryani is Mezbaan Hyderabad Restaurant. Located in the busy hub of central Bur Dubai, this is the chain’s very first outlet. The restaurant itself is cramped, stuffy and rather shabby from all the years it has been in operation, but this does not keep the impressive string of regulars from coming back for more.
We were at Mezbaan last night. Despite it being a weekday, we were lucky to get a table.
We last came to eat here over a year ago, and asked for our regular waitress, an elderly Filipino lady. I never quite got around to asking her name, but we shared a bond of familiarity. She has been with this branch for as long as I can remember, and I always found it rather odd that she would choose to work at Mezbaan. All the other staff here are of Indian origin, and I doubt she was a fan of biryani. Moreover, she always looked rather miserable at her job and we would make it a point to tip her well after every meal.
The staff tell us she left Mezbaan last DSF. She tried her luck at the DSF Draw, and won the lottery! With biryani-serving days behind her, I envision the lovely lady sitting by a beach in an exotic setting akin to the Caribbean, and sipping endless Coladas by the sunset. How fortunes can change! Fairytales really can come true in this vibrant city of Dubai, and her story made me grin ear to ear (let’s buy a DSF ticket, shall we?!).
Although the ‘dum’ biryani is the most popular option, and an icon of Hyderabad, at Mezbaan we like their Fish Biryani best.
Given it was a lovely, chilly evening outside we also ordered a Bhuna Ghost with parathas on the side.
Here is our dinner:
And can you believe this entire meal inclusive of drinks cost us AED 55? Who says eating out in Dubai is expensive? Mezbaan is a bargain meal that hits the spot for a major Indian dinner craving.
Oh, and did I mention they give you a plate of complimentary salad as well? Unfortunately, the salad tasted a little old. Perhaps it was cut up in the morning half, and served out of the fridge.
We started off with the Bhuna Ghost. This slow-cooked mutton curry in a thick onion-based gravy was a God-send for a cold winter’s meal. It is fragrantly spiced with aromatic masalas and laced with the heat of fresh green chili. This AED 20 serving is good enough for two hungry adults, and also comes with a generous amount of meat.
I love the parathas at Mezbaan. When you say ‘paaratha’ in Dubai, you usually get the multi-layered, falling-into-shreds South Indian ‘porota’ variety. Although I like that version too, the one at Mezbaan is lighter on the grease, and reminds me of the ones my mother makes in her kitchen.
After scooping clean the bowl of Bhuna Ghost with the aid of the parathas, we moved on to the Fish Biryani.
The Fish Biryani at Mezbaan features hamour fillets that have been beautifully coated in a deep red, spicy marinade. The concentrated spiciness of the fish goes beautifully well with the fluffy, light biryani rice. And because Mezbaan is a Hyderabadi restaurant, you get a ‘Mirchi Ka Salan’ as well as the yoghurt raita (a yoghurt-based Indian salad) on the side.
Mirchi Ka Salan is a nut-based side dish served with Hyderabadi biryani and has a good deal of green chili heat. It adds flavor, spiciness and moisture to the dish.
We downed the greasy goodness of this meal with big slurps of Diet Pepsi. Ironic, I know!
Mezbaan was a forgotten gem we managed to rediscover. Forget the façade, and go there for the delicious grub. I would also highly recommend their Shahi Haleem, its a moreish must-try for winter!