Celebrity Chef Sanjeev Kapoor needs no introduction. A food icon whose popularity and repute can be compared to the very launching pad that introduced him to the world, I have fond childhood memories of my mother tuning into his ‘Khana Khazana’ cookery show on the Zee TV Network. His ‘Shyam Savera’ recipe has become a party staple from my mother’s kitchen, and it is heartening to see he has branched out as a restauranteur in the foodie scene of Dubai.
I have dined at ‘Options by Sanjeev Kapoor’, and recently got invited to the fine-dining equivalent by the lovely Deepti Chandak from the Jive With Deepti blog. ‘Signature by Sanjeev Kapoor’ is located in Melia hotel, Bur Dubai and we were here for a sneak peek of the restaurant’s Iftar offerings.
The restaurant interiors are stylishly decorated in suave, earthy undertones with a few nods to the colourful cuisines of India. They also have an outer terrace that is fully air-conditioned and created for shisha lovers.
We sat indoors, sharing our table with a bunch of fellow foodies. The table was laid with Iftar essentials including dates, dried fruit and a few pieces of baklava. I was intrigued to see how the master chef did an Indian-themed Iftar.
The Iftar at Options by Sanjeev Kapoor will run from 7 pm to midnight every day of Ramadan, and costs AED 149 per person. This three-course menu is predominated by North Indian flavors, and is inclusive of soft drinks, juices and Ramadan favorites like Jalab and Laban.
I was a little disappointed that they don’t do fresh juices here. The server told us everything comes out of a packet, so I ended up sipping on Diet Coke all evening.
The appetizer platter looked spectacular. Served on a black canvas complete with the trimmings one would expect from a celebrity chef, the non-vegetarian option included a majestic Saffron Scented Prawn, a very soft and succulent Sumac Spiked Grilled Fish, a tantalizingly spicy marinated Charcoal Roast Lamb Chop, and a Chicken Roulade with a locally inspired stuffing of olives and finely ground nuts.
However, the mains were a bit of a hit and miss. The presentation for one looked pretty basic for a ‘Sanjeev Kapoor’ banner. The Kabuli Chana Gosht, a lamb curry with chickpeas, was lacking in flavor for me, and I tried to revive it with a shakedown of salt. The same goes for the Dum Ka Murg, a bright orange-hued chicken curry with a very bland aftertaste. However, the biggest disappointment was the Chicken Biryani. The kewra essence in this rice pilaf was an overkill, and we also didn’t have enough chicken pieces to go around.
I found myself leaning over to try the mains from my vegetarian friends, and have to say they got a better deal. The Lalla Mussa Dal, a slow-cooked black lentil dish trimmed with the goodness of butter and cream, was an absolute favorite around the table. I also devoured the Aloo Gobi, an Indian favorite featuring stir-fried cauliflower and potatoes in a spicy tomato puree base.
For our dessert round, we were presented a pretty little shelf full of miniature treats. My favorites included the very crisp rose scented Balushahi, a very creamy, decadent Saffron Phirni, and the absolutely divine, refreshingly milky Arabic Mahalabia.
We spent the last hour at Signature by Sanjeev Kapoor out in the terrace, lounging in a comfy corner of the sofas, shisha in hand. The shisha costs AED 85 each, and they have these really attractive colour-changing Butterfly Shishas that add magic to the night.
Overall, AED 149 is a good deal for a fine-dining Iftar that has a celebrity backing. Given the ‘Sanjeev Kapoor’ tag, I was a tad bit disappointed with a few of the mains, but the appetizers and desserts will have me reconsidering a trip back this month. And if you are into shisha, you really have to check out their Butterfly beauties!
Options by Sanjeev Kapoor is located inside Melia hotel, Mankhool – Bur Dubai. The 3-course Iftar costs AED 149 per person, and the shisha is AED 85. For more details on the restaurant and its offerings, call 04 5509110 and visit their website. Ramadan Kareem!