About a week ago, I had the pleasure of being invited for Iftar at Jodhpur – Royal Dining, one of Dubai’s newest Indian fine-dining establishments. This was my very first visit to Jodhpur, and I was really looking forward to it. I have seen beautiful images across social media, and was especially intrigued by their Chaat Macaroons. Will all their dishes be just as innovative? What was their take on Iftar? Jodhpur proved to be a delightful take on classic Indian cuisine with a few global inspirations thrown in, and I had a very memorable experience.
Located in Murooj Rotana (Downtown Dubai), the clean, welcoming exteriors look deceptively modern. Walking indoors, the mind is transported to another world. The turquoise walls and gilded mirrors have all the makings of an enchanted castle, tucked away in the story books of exotic India.
We were hosted by Executive Chef Pradeep Khullar himself. There are very few restaurants where the chef himself attends to the tables, and answers every query. Chef Pradeep is an encyclopedia on Indian cuisine, and his enthusiasm for cooking is highly addictive. He starts by telling us that the whole concept of Jodhpur is to revive the ancient traditions of Indian cooking. He plays with Indian flavours, but gives it the fine-dining touch by incorporating the best of ingredients from all around the globe.
To break fast, there was dates, but at Jodhpur this Ramadan essential is given a royal touch. These Kataifi Dates are stuffed with a decadent mix of finely chopped pine nuts, pistachios and almonds, and is glued onto a delightfully crunchy Kataifi pastry base with a dollop of sticky caramel sauce.
I have to start with the much talked about Macaroon Chaat. A cusp between a dainty Parisian cafe treat and the tangy hit of Indian street food, this is essentially a macaroon that has been sandwiched with a spiced yoghurt filling.
Chef Pradeep tells us this inventive dish was rather accidental. When one of his sous chefs piped a set of macaroons with a chaat base by mistake, Chef Pradeep saw it as an opportunity that can be enhanced further, and this is how Jodhpur’s much loved pre-starter was born. Seeing it gain so much popularity, Chef Pradeep did something any straightforward thinking businessman would term insane… he decided to make these macaroons free for every diner who walks into his restaurant!
Another enticing take on Indian street-food was Jodhpur’s Miniature Vada Pav. Originating from Mumbai, Pao Bhaji is essentially a ‘pao’ (bun) stuffed with a ‘batata vada’ (a spicy potato pattie). These miniature versions tick all the boxes for the tangy hot and sweet flavours that are found in a traditional Vada Pav. I loved the intense hit of masala and garlic, and the freshness of saunth and mint chutneys. The roasted vada is given a crunchy element with the addition of peanuts, absolutely delightful.
The idea of doing miniatures stems from Chef Pradeeps philosophy that less really is more. Not only does this pre-starter look visually appealing, but it leaves the diner wanting for another bite.
Next came a miniature take on a Punjabi favorite, kulchas! This is Jodhpur’s Chicken and Chestnut Kulcha with Sumac Laban. These little kulcha cups are filled with a beautifully spiced Chicken Tikka, and taking on a global inspiration, Chef Pradeep has added water chestnuts to the mix as these will maintain their crunch at every bite, and will not go soggy. For a hint of localized flavour, sumac-infused laban is added as a topping. Who would have guessed these miniatures carry so many enticing world flavours in one mini bite?!
And what do you make of the dish below? I thought it looked like an exotic hedgehog 🙂
Malai Kebabs, vegetarian patties made of hung yoghurt, is very popular in Northern India, and is served hot from the skillet. Chef Pradeep gets innovative with this traditional favorite, and serves his version cold. This is Jodhpur’s Laban & Ricotta Kebab with Rose Ash, one of my absolutely favorite dishes from the night. The kebab itself is a crispy fried melange of Hung Curd & Ricotta, and it is rolled in a very aromatic Rose Ash (dehydrated rose petals that have been mildly smoked). The kebab itself is sinfully creamy and decadent, and I loved the contrast of smokey rose with every bite.
While eating through all this decadence, we sipped on a very fruity mocktail featuring cranberries, lime and mango.
The staff member serving our drinks said their bartender can create anything imaginable, so I put him up to the challenge. I asked for something tamarind based, preferably salty-sweet, and this is what he came back with:
My tamarind drink had the perfect hit of tangy and sweet, and I absolutely loved the salted chili rim. This drink has no name, perhaps they should name it the Tezzy Tamarind Sip? 🙂
Next up was a plate of beef shortribs. This is Jodhpur’s Beef Shortribs with Aam Papad Glaze. Aam papad, the sticky-sweet sheets of dehydrated mango, has to be a part of every Indian childhood. At Jodhpur, they make their aam papad from scratch, and even use it as a base for the reduction used for this beef.
The beef has been braised for a good 8 hours, and this gives the meat an unbelievably soft, moist texture. The dish has a mild crunch to it owing to a tempura layering on the beef, and the contrast of meaty goodness with the sticky sweet decadence of the reduced sauce is absolutely pure indulgence. This is yet another one of my favorites at Jodhpur.
And these were only the starters! To prep our palates for the main-course, we were served miniature popsicles of Mango, Cranberry and Kafir Lime Sorbets. I love how these palate cleansers were served in miniature pressure cookers, a must-have utensil in any Indian kitchen.
Before we knew it, our table was heaving with delicacies. We tried Jodhpur’s Lamb Shank Nihari, succulently soft ‘falling off the bone’ shank of lamb that has been cooked sealed for 24 hours.
The Lamb Shank Nihari is served with Bakarkhani, a crisp sweet flatbread that is not often seen on Indian menus in Dubai.
If you are a fan of Daal Makhani, Jodhpur does a lighter take by substituting black gram with green moong daal. I wouldn’t have tasted the difference if I wasn’t told, and loved scooping it up with the Bakarkhani and Lacchas on the side.
An Iftar table is not complete without the inclusion of an aromatically spiced biryani. Jodhpur’s Chicken Tikka Biryani hit all the right spots with its deliciously marinated chicken pieces and mildly spiced rice pilaf.
Below is Jodhpur’s version of a tradition Pao Bhaji. This is the Miniature Pao Bhaji with Vegetable Chips and a Garlic Maska. Who thought Pav Bhaji could manage to look this photogenic?!
Pao Bhaji is essentially a medley of slow cooked vegetables and spices, which is mashed into a thick paste-like consistency. At Jodhpur, it is served with generous dollops of garlic butter, seared miniature paos and garnished with an assortment of colourful vegetable chips that have all been made in-house.
For our dessert round, we were presented the very spectacular-looking Rasmalai with Milk Foam Rabdi and Pistachios.
A soft, cloud-like rasmalai is served on a bed of saffron-flavoured milk and topped with a delectable milk foam and pistachios. For a localised touch, the crunchy goodness of Kataifi pastry has been added to the mix.
We were also served Jodhpur’s Kesar Malai Kulfi, a decadently rich and creamy stick of India’s favorite form of ice-cream made from a reduction of full cream milk, saffron cardamom and ground nuts. The kulfi is topped with freeze-dried raspberries for aesthetic appeal.
Overall, our experience at Jodhpur Royal Dining restaurant was nothing short of magnificent. Chef Pradeep Khullar proves to be a maestro at artfully preserving the classic flavours of Indian cooking, and elevates each dish with a touch of new-world aesthetics. At Jodhpur, your tastebuds are taken on a nostalgic journey to a vivid Indian childhood where everything was simplistic yet loaded with traditional flavours. When asked what his secret to great cooking is, Chef Pradeep confides that he cooks everything the way he likes it himself. With a penchant for the traditional yet a global citizen himself, I am intrigued to see the new additions Chef Pradeep is planning to bring to Jodhpur. Stay tuned!
Jodhpur Royal Dining is located in Murooj Rotana (Downtown Dubai). For table reservations, give them a call on 04 3559846. Bon apetit!