Every ‘Somvaar‘ (Hindi for Monday), the entrance of Chor Bazaar restaurant at Ibn Battuta Gate transforms into a quaint little Indian marketplace. There is a stall showcasing an array of trinkets, Indian shawls and mirror-worked totes but these are just for show. This ‘bazaar’ is an elaborate buffet, a feast of ‘all you can eat’ delicacies from different corners of India.
Priced at AED 125 per person (or AED 225 with house beverages), the Somvaar Bazaar at Chor Bazaar is a great deal for quality food, set in a five-star ambience.
It’s been a while since I’ve driven up to Ibn Battuta. Bordering Abu Dhabi, I rarely come this distance, let alone for a food review. I checked out Chor Bazaar on Zomato, and was rather puzzled by the extreme difference in ratings. Some raved, some ranted, yet this is a restaurant that has the BBC Good Food award’s ‘Best Indian Restaurant 2013’ under its belt. I was intrigued. Would I love it or loathe it? My curiosity made the drive down to Ibn Battuta worthwhile.
I love the interiors of Movenpick at Ibn Battuta Gate. It is so regally Arabesque, and ushered down that Persian carpet by a turban-clad Turk to an Indian fine-dining reiterates the cultural diversity of this city.
Like the name suggests, the Somvaar Bazaar at Chor Bazaar is a weekly affair that takes place every Monday. Executive Head Chef Dayanand Prasad has created an indulgent lineup of Indian favorites, and the buffet features a total of 4 different live stations.
There is a station for ‘Nimbu Pani’, the much-loved Indian variation of a lemonade. Opt to have it with water, or sparkle it up with soda! I had a total of three glasses throughout me meal.
Then there’s the Chaat Counter, where you get to stand by the counter and pop flavour-loaded, tangy Pani Puris, that are skilfully made on the spot. This is just like how its done on the streets of India! However, being a huge fan of chaat, I wish they had more variations other than Pani Puri.
Moving on to appetizers, the Somvaar Bazaar has a live station with a gigantic ‘tawa’ (a flat Indian pan) where a number of interesting snacks are being pan-fried. My favorite off the tawa was their Aloo Tikki (an Indian potato patty) served on a bed on spiced chickpeas and garnished with coriander chutney.
The hot appetizers were the perfect accompaniment with the house beverages. We could see quite a few tables idly sipping on their drinks, indulging in this variety of bites. We got a platter of mixed grills sent to the table. It included a Lamb Sheekh Kebab and Chicken Tikka. Both were beautifully tender, and well marinated, and we had these with generous dips of coriander chutney.
They also have a section for deep-fried snacks including Samosa and Pakodas. You just need to point out all the goodies you want to try out, and the very friendly staff have it delivered directly to the table.
And have you ever seen a live curry counter? Despite having a total of 6 enticing curries on the buffet already, at Somvaar Bazaar you get to customize your curry by the proteins you want, the base, and the spice quotient.
Chef Dyanand made me this incredibly delicious mixed seafood curry that does not have a name (perhaps they can call it the Tezzy Special?! 😉 ). With a mix of fish, crab, mussels and a whole lot of shellfish I could not identify, this tasted like a spiked up Indian version of a very decadent Seafood Chowder. The curry base is made of coconut milk, and tempered with curry leaves and black mustard, and it had a delightfully hot hit of chili just the way I like it. Absolutely divine!
Hubby was too engrossed in the Lamb Vindaloo from the buffet counter to create his own. The vindaloo here is deep, dark and robust, and loaded with very tender pieces of lamb. This is a very satiating curry, especially over warm Basmati rice.
The curries at the Somvaar Bazaar change every week, the only constant being their Butter Chicken. Given the restaurant caters to mainly Western expats, this curry is on high demand.
The buffet included a vegetarian curry called ‘Subz Takshila’. The Takshila district now lies in neighbouring Pakistan, but this dish remains a classic in India. It is a beautiful medley of mixed vegetables with ricotta cheese, and goes perfectly well with the hot Garlic Butter Naan that was served on our table.
The dessert counter at the Somvaar Bazaar has a wide variety of North Indian favorites including Kaju Katli, Rasmalai, Jelebi and Kheer. They also had Coconut Ladoos, a sweet treat that is rarely seen in buffet offerings, and this was my daughter’s favorite.
Overall, I am pleased to say I sway towards the clan on Zomans who rate this restaurant highly. The ambiance is magical, the service first-class (where else do you get to create your own curry?!), and the variety of dishes perfectly caters to an urge for classic, beautifully flavoured Indian cuisine.
The ‘Somvaar Bazaar’ takes place every Monday from 7 pm – 11 pm at Chor Bazaar (Ground Floor, Movenpick – Ibn Battuta Gate, Dubai), and prices start from AED 125 per person. Call 04 444 5613 for reservations.
See you at the bazaar next ‘Somvaar’ 🙂