Antique Bazaar is an experience in itself. Apart from the delicious lineup of very popular Indian dishes the restaurant has to offer, the interiors have the look and feel of a bygone palatial courtyard, complete with intricately hand-carved furnishings and portraits of mythical royalty.
Book at table around 9 pm any day of the week, and you are in for a visual treat. Antique Bazaar has its very own band of Bollywood singers and dancers who keep diners entertained with a whole array of old and new numbers, and even take on song requests.
We have a special association with Antique Bazaar. This is the very first Indian restaurant I dined at when I landed in the UAE 9 years ago. Given my love for Bollywood beats, Hubby booked us a table here on our very first anniversary, and we have also been back for a few birthday celebrations. This time round, we were invited to try out the restaurant’s ‘Punjabi Food Festival’.
The Punjabi Food Festival ran from 5th to 21st May, and we made it to Antique Bazaar for the very last day. The restaurant got a Punjabi makeover to commemorate this special menu dedicated to the North Indian state of Punjab. All the decor has been done in-house, and even the staff don Punjabi-style attire.
Antique Bazaar has created a very special lineup of authentically Punjabi dishes for this festival. From Mango Lassi and Kadi Pakoda to Makki Ki Roti and Sarson Ka Saag, the Punjabi menu was available for a limited time only. However, Restaurant Manager Mr. Ravinder (who happens to be a Punjabi himself!) assures us that items from the limited edition menu can still be requested for even now.
We had a combination of dishes, both from the Punjabi and the regular Antique Bazaar menus.
We started off with sips of Antique Bazaar’s Mango Lassi, a thick concoction of yogurt and mango pulp laced with a hint of saffron. This much-loved North Indian smoothie has a hint of tanginess from the yogurt, but overall it is a decadently rich, sweet treat that you need to sip with caution lest you get too full for your mains.
Another mango-based treat I absolutely devour every time I am at Antique Bazaar is their sweet mango chutney. It goes great with the complimentary papadoms!
For starters, the kitchen at Antique Bazaar kindly agreed to create a mixed platter for us. It had four appetizers from the special Punjabi menu, as well as Antique Bazaar’s signature Patta Seekh Kebab.
Nibbling through our platters of appetizers, Hubby decided to do a song request. He asked for the rather morbid ‘Jo Bheji Thi Duwa’ from the Bollywood movie entitled ‘Shanghai’. The singing duo looked rather flustered, but without much ado, the track was tracked down on good old Google, and one of the talented young dancers did an impromptu performance to its beats. At Antique Bazaar, if they can’t sing it they dance it! Even the original track was sans any dance moves!
I almost felt sorry for the young lady, she was doing full-swing twirls which must have felt pretty heady by the end of the four and a half minute long track!
I caught a click of one of the dancers, lost in poignant thought. Doesn’t she have a striking resemblance to the lady in the painted portrait of the menu? At Antique Bazaar, she magically comes to life!
Towards the end of the evening, I had a far easier request. I asked for the Shammi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore lovey-dovey classic, ‘Deewana Huwa Badal’ and the singers did a great job singing this much-loved peppy number.
The duo seem far more comfortable with classics than new numbers. This is my mother’s all-time favorite track, and I made a mental note to bring her here the next time she visits.
Focusing back on our table, our main-course was an elaborate spread of Punjabi classics.
We ended our gastronomic tour through Punjabi culinary tradition with a sampler of the region’s finest sweet treats. Our dessert platter included a sinfully rich Gajjar Ka Halwa (sweetened shredded carrots cooked in clarified butter and sprinkled with nuts), a soft, cloud-like Ras Malai and a decadently rich, creamy Malai Kulfi (Indian-style ice-cream accentuated with the texture of ground pistachio).
The Punjabi Food Festival at Antique Bazaar may have come to an end, but the very accommodating staff are more than happy to whip up one of these limited edition dishes upon request. They also have an interesting lineup of other food festivals planned to keep regulars like us coming back for more, so do stay tuned!
Antique Bazaar is located on the Mezzanine floor of Four Points by Sheraton in Khalid Bin Al Waleed, Bur Dubai. If you want to witness the live performances, I suggest you call them on 04 397 7444 and book a table around 9 pm. Trust me, you’ll want to sit there all night, singing along to much loved Bollywood beats!