Over the last year or so, Indian molecular gastronomy has taken the Dubai dining scene by storm. It was initially reserved for exuberantly priced fine-dining restaurants like Tresind, and soon seeped into the high-end cafe and bar scenes with the introduction of Farzi Cafe and Carnival by Tresind. Going a few steps further down the affordability scale, we can now rejoice with the opening of Mumbai’s very popular vegetarian joint, SpiceKlub.
Just a month into its opening, and it is already a challenge getting a table booking at this brand new joint. Located in the hub of busy, traffic-congested Mankool where parking can be a nightmare, we booked ourselves a table at SpiceKlub midweek for dinner. Despite not having a valet service, the place was absolutely packed… and this was a Tuesday evening!
My Hubby does not prefer Indian when dining out, and least of all a vegetarian joint. To make matters worse, it took us a good 20 minutes to find a parking spot, so by the time we settled into our table I was praying the food would be to his liking. Miracle of miracles, he walked out very content raving about the dishes and the immaculate service!
We were hosted by a very friendly young gentleman by the name of Nadeem. Nadeem has worked for years at ‘Rolling Pin’, a sister concern of SpiceKlub back in Mumbai, India. Nadeem is very well-versed with the menu, and we therefore let him handle our order selection. Here is a look at all the dishes we devoured…
We started off with a number of unconventionally cool drinks. At SpiceKlub, their drinks might as well be desserts as you need to spoon into these beauties.
This is SpiceKlub’s Mango On the Rocks, a drama of liquid nitrogen with flavorfully sweet mango pulp. After all the theatrical fumes die down, we devoured the creamy mango goodness that was more like an ice-cream than a drink; an must-try for mango fans.
Then there was the Ice Sphere. True to its name, the drink was encased in a sphere of ice, and smashed open on the table. This is a light, fruity non-alcoholic punch infused with tropical flavors of mango, lime and pineapple.
However, my absolute favorite drink from the night has to be SpiceKlub’s Peru Mousse. ‘Peru’ translates to guava, but the Indian counterparts take on a redder hue and have a more pronounced flavor disposition. My grandmother had a ‘peru’ tree in her garden, and I recall many an idle, memorable afternoon with my young cousins picking the ripe fruit and snacking on them with generous sprinkles of black salt and chili. This is exactly what this drink tastes like; the characteristic combination of guava with a hint of black salt, and sprinkles of chili. The drink is a sophisticated mousse, yet every spoonful took me back to my treasured childhood, an absolutely nostalgic treat!
At SpiceKlub, they have managed to give classic Indian street food a new avatar. Take for instance the much-loved Pani Puri. The concept of stuffing a puffed cracker with lentils and spiced water remains the same, yet the presentation has gone all sci-fi with the introduction of lab apparatus, and even the tamarind chutney is served in a syringe!
Love a good Shahlik? This traditional technique of marination and grilling is often reserved for meat and poultry, but being a vegetarian restaurant, SpiceKlub reinvents the classic by replacing the meat with mushrooms. This is the Mushroom & Spinach Shashlik, a very flavorful platter of grilled mushroom done in an assortment of marinations including Tandoori, Mint and Corriander and Spinach. Satisfyingly flavorful yet far lighter than an entire platter of non-veg, this proved to be yet another interesting SpiceKlub invention.
And doesn’t this platter of kebabs look totally non-veg?! Don’t let the appearance fool you, this is SpiceKlub’s Galouti Kebab. Traditionally created using very finely minced meat or chicken, the SpiceKlub version replaces it with a secret blend of mashed vegetables. Somehow the texture is so deceivingly ‘Galouti’, that it even had us, the keen non-veg kebab fans, fooled. Absolutely melt-in-the-mouth and scented with aromatic spices, this vegetarian version can give the real meaty deal a run for its money.
By the time the mains hit the table, we were already heading towards a major food coma. Yet the foodie in me was also very keen on seeing more of the SpiceKlub magic. We started off our main-course with SpiceKlub’s Pav Bhaji Fondue.
What a clever, decadent take on an Indian street-food classic! This warm, cheesy base added more oomph to the classic taste of spice tomato that is so ‘Pav Bhaji’, and despite complaining how full we were, we did an excellent job at swiping this fondue bowl clean.
Yet another rich, creamy dish came in the form of SpiceKlub’s Moti Paneer Makhani. The curry base is creamy and utterly buttery, and includes lentils and bits of Paneer (Indian cottage cheese). This is a cusp between the ever popular Butter Chicken and Daal Makhani, and went perfectly well with the freshly baked Garlic Chili Butter Naan and Roomali Roti.
The last main-course to hit our table was SpiceKlub’s Veg Dum Biryani. Cooked sealed in a traditional clay pot, the aroma of decadent truffle and deep-fried onion hit our nostrils as soon as the seal was cut open. The rice granules are beautifully long and fragrant, and the ‘masala’ of the biryani is a spicy mix of seasonal vegetables. It was served with a tangy pomegranate raita, sprinkled with black salt.
I don’t know about you, but I’m never too full for dessert! My Hubby argues otherwise, but when the SpiceKlub Flower Pot got served on our table, we were having spoon wars over it! Intriguingly beautiful, this dark chocolate pot reveals a traditional Indian Ras Malai stuffing, which surprisingly goes so deliciously well with the chocolate. This pot was satisfyingly demolished in no time!
Even Kulfi, the traditional Indian ice-cream, is not spared at SpiceKlub. Combining the magic of molecular gastronomy with much-loved world flavors, the Bubbling Kulfi here is literally ‘bubbling’ with the cold of liquid nitrogen, and is served with an assortment of sauces including dark chocolate, salted caramel, berry caviar and Indian rabdi. Yet another clever take on a much-loved classic.
Paan, the leafy green mouth-freshener served at the end of an Indian meal, morphs into a dessert here. This is SpiceKlub’s Paan Mousse, beautifully dainty mint-green colored swirls frozen with liquid nitrogen and garnished with edible rose petals. Who needs betel nut with something this pretty?!
Overall, SpiceKlub is sure to shake up the firm, dine-dining foundations that have been linked to molecular gastronomy so far. The food here is exceptionally delicious as well as being very innovatively clever. Best of all, the menu pricing is so competitively low that you may as well overlook your everyday diner and head here…. but good luck getting a table reservation! Give SpiceKlub a call on 04 393 1233.