Kebab Festival at Mahec by Satish Arora

When legendary Chef Satish Arora was advised that 13th July marks ‘World Kebab Day’, he was ready with an enticing new menu from pre-starters to dessert in under 24 hours. Mahec by Satish Arora, located in the gastronomic hub of Le Meridien Village (Airport Road Dubai) is hosting a Kebab Festival from 12th to 27th July, 7pm to 11 pm daily.

The special menu features a total of 11 brand new kebabs, not to mention an entire array of starters and dessert.

I had the pleasure of dining at Mahec last night, and had the honor of meeting Chef Satish Arora in person once again. How did he manage to come up with an entire menu in a day? Humble as he is talented, he tells us that over 50 years in the business makes it come naturally to him.

For Chef Arora there are no shortcuts. He treats the wide range of aromatic Indian spices as an artist would his palate of paints. Spices are married together based on their compatibility of flavor and pungency, everything here is freshly ground and roasted. Chef Arora never allows packet powders into his kitchen. He also believes in the accuracy of a recipe. Everything is measured to the gram, even water! Chef Arora’s scrupulous eye for detail and perfection is what has earned him an unmatched career of excellence.

We started our meal with two shots of Panna Pani Puri. ‘Aam Panna’ is a refreshing tangy-sweet Indian drink made from raw green mango, and Chef Arora has replaced the traditional Pani Puri mint and tamarind water with this juice. The plating looks spectacular!

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Next came our round of starters that Chef Arora has named ‘Chatpata Hungama’, which loosely translates to ‘uproar’ and ‘merriment’. Chef Arora has shortlisted a few well-loved street-food snacks, and given them a brand new fine-dining avatar. Take the Bhel Puri for example; Chef Arora has made it non-vegetarian with the addition of bite-sized bits of tandoori chicken.

Then there’s the Tawa Khurchan, a mixed stir-fry of lamb liver and other organs. The premise of this dish comes from live street hawkers who make much drama out of clattering knives on a hot open grill. Here it is beautifully presented with a lattice of curry leaf. I am not a fan of organs, but even I ate more than half my share.

Love pizza? Chef Arora gives it a scrumptiously flaky Indian avatar by using Mathri as the base, and a special spiced tomato sauce that is made in-house. Mathri is a traditional Indian biscuit that is savory, thick and decadently crumbly. It is a meticulous process making Mathri from scratch, but Chef Arora takes no shortcuts and the result is divinely delicious.

My favorite from this platter was the Kadak Sheekh. Traditional skewered lamb kebab is stuffed with cream cheese, and then battered and deep-fried a crisp golden brown with a Japanese tempura coating. The kebab was deliciously spiced, the cream cheese acts as a mild respite and the delicate crunch of the outer layer makes it an absolute treat. This was the very first kebab we tasted at the Mahec Kebab Festival, and I really do hope Mahec adds this kebab to their regular menu.

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To drown all this decadence, I sipped on an ice-cold Rose Mojito. This drink is tangy-sweet and looks so very pretty.

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Given it was a Kebab Festival, I was expecting a large platter of skewered meats. However, given Chef Arora has the reigns here, the platter is an immaculate work of art that is anything but the expected.

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My platter features the Curry Patta Jhinga (a plump, juicy prawn coated with a thick layer of South Indian-style curry leaf masala), Hariyali Seekh Kebab (a lamb skewer that has the goodness of spinach), the Nariyal Chettinad Kebab (Chef Arora has condensed the flavorful goodness of the much-loved Tamil curry and used it as a margination for this succulently soft piece of chicken), and the Triveni Dhingri (a large portobello mushroom stuffed with Japanese shiitake mushroom and filled with an eggless Hollandaise sauce).

My favorite was a close tie between the Nariyal Chettinad Kebab and the Triveni Dhingri. Both were so uniquely different, yet so quintessentially Indian.

These are just 4 of the 11 brand new kebabs that have been created by Chef Arora for the Mahec Kebab Festival. If only I had more room in my tummy to try out more! The other struggle you will have here is deciding on what to order.

How can a meal at Mahec by Satish Arora ever be complete without ordering in his signature Arora Dal Makhani (a slow-cooked black lentil recipe that has been perfected in the Arora ancestral home) and the much-loved Butter Chicken that Chef Arora has patented since it got the approval from Queen Elizabeth herself? We scooped up both dishes with warm buttered naan.

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Ending on a sweet note, we tried 3 new desserts that have been specially created for the Kebab Festival. First there was the Laal Halwa, a sweet, nutty halwa made of beetroot lending the treat a beautifully vivid purple blush. It was served as a parfait, layered with nuts.

Then there was the Tandoori Shakarkandi. Who would have thought of making dessert in the tandoor? Chef Arora has used baked sweet potato as the base of this dessert, and topped it with dry, sweetened cream.

My favorite was the Black Pepper Baked Ice-Cream served with cake croutons. The ice-cream was decadently sweet and creamy, with the unexpected heat of black pepper playing on the palate. Loved it!

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Overall, we had a very memorable evening at Mahec, and especially enjoyed chatting with Chef Arora himself. His undying energy and obvious love for his profession keep fueling him with more innovations. For a menu devised over a single day, the Kebab Festival is exemplary to say the least.

The Mahec Kebab Festival is running from 12th to 27th July, 7pm to 11 pm daily. Get your kebab fix before its gone!

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Posing with Chef Satish Arora, and Chef Asif Khan who takes over the reigns of the kitchen at Mahec Dubai in his absence.