We had a wonderful stay at Danat Al Ain Resort, and one of the culinary highlights of our weekend away was dining at Tanjore. Although we have an endless set of options when it comes to Indian restaurants in the UAE, what sets Tanjore apart is its very history.
The restaurant has been on the premises for nearly 3 decades, even before InterContinental became Danat Al Ain. It is, infact, Al Ain’s very first Indian fine-dining establishment and has an interesting little story behind it.
Back in the day, when the property came under the flagship of InterContinental, the management was run by a British gentleman who had a particular love for curries. He therefore insisted on opening an Indian restaurant there, and came up with the name Tanjore (a province of South India that he happened to visit years ago).
However, despite being named after a South Indian city, the restaurant’s menu is predominantly North Indian, and the food, the ambiance and the immaculate service here has won the restaurant many accolades over the years including being crowned this year’s World Luxury Restaurant Awards Country Winner (click here for details).
The interiors here are so suave, sophisticated and exotically magical. The lighting is romantically dim, and interesting artifacts from Northern states of India adorn the walls and crevices of the space.
A long, thin window reveals the bread kitchen, where we get a glimpse of the tandoor and the chef busily baking stacks of oven-fresh breads. The hosts here are formidably suited, and well versed in the menu options.
We were delighted to discover that our host for the night, the very jovial young Kaushik, is also of Assamese origin like us! Assam is the North Eastern state of India, and we rarely meet brethren from our parts. I don’t think I’ve ever ordered in Assamese in a restaurant in the UAE before!
For starters, I would highly recommend their Mixed Grills platter. Each piece is succulently soft, moist and marinated in an assortment of spices. I particularly liked the Fish Tikka.
For our mains, we had a fiery-hot Rogan Josh, and swiped our plates clean with fluffy hot Naan bread.
We also ordered a Mustard Fish, curious to see if it tasted like the Assamese one we know and love. However, the one here is a Punjabi recipe, different… yet really delicious too! The curry features chunks of boneless Hammour and the gravy is thick and creamy, with just a hint of mustard heat. I highly recommend this dish!
The fish would ideally go best with plain white rice, but we had it on the side with the Tanjore Chicken Biryani. The biryani here features long, fragrant Basmati rice, and the ratio of rice to gravy is perfectly balanced. The portion sizes here are overly generous and I wish we could do more justice to this dish.
For a couple, I would suggest a starter and one main dish, more than sufficient at Tanjore.
By the end of our main-course, we were far too full and decided to share a dessert. We absolutely loved their decadently creamy Firni! Unlike the mains, their dessert portions are not for sharing and I wish we had more on this platter as my little one was also devouring it by the spoonful!
Despite the cumulative rise of Indian fine-dining restaurants across the UAE, Tanjore has stood the test of time and shines above the crowd despite being tucked away in laid-back Al Ain. Apart from the gorgeous interiors and immaculate service, the food here is well and truly fantabulous. I really do wish we had a branch at closer proximity, but till then Tanjore will remain one of my prime reasons for coming back for a stay at Danat Al Ain Resort.