Last Friday I had the honor of meeting a real legend of the Indian culinary world. Chef Satish Arora has a career expanding over 50 years. He started his career with the Taj Group of hotels in India, wherein he became the world’s youngest Executive Chef of a five-star kitchen at a mere 26 years of age. His trailblazing career has won him many accolades including being listed among ‘the world’s 20 best chefs’ in 1991, receiving the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ from Curry Club of England in 2007, Star Group in 2016, Hospitality Leaders Choice UK in 2016, and Food Food TV Channel in 2017.

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The secret to his success is his undying passion for simple, authentic Indian cuisine and this has won him a very prestigious lineup of fans including Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, Amitabh Bacchan, John Major… and the list goes on.

Still going strong, Chef Satish Arora has recently taken over the menu at Mahec, the fine-dining Indian restaurant in Le Meridian, Airport Road Dubai. The menu has been renovated by the culinary legend from 20th Feb this year, and he is adding more of his magic in the coming few weeks.

Chef Sameer who is heading the kitchen and the overall operations of newly opened Roti Rollers, is a walking, talking encyclopedia on all things food. His insightful knowledge on the vast varieties of cuisines within India itself had us as awestruck as did the innovative dishes that came out of his kitchen.

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Chef Sameer

Here are snippets from our conversations with him. And look out for more blog posts with his insightful food gems, coming soon!

The quintessential Kichdi (or Kichri or Kichuri depending on where you’re from) has countless variations. Essentially a rice and lentil pilaf, it can be cooked with a variety of lentil combinations, the proportion of rice to lentil changes, and more interestingly, the consistency of the final dish. Some like it dry like a pilaf, but for me I love it the traditional Bengali way… all mushy, semi-liquid and with more lentil than rice.

Wholesome and nutritious, I fed my toddler daughter far too many bowlfuls often with seasonal vegetables mashed in and stirred through with generous dollops of ghee.

One of the most popular combinations that go with a runny Kichdi is a spicy tomato-based Egg Curry. Who said comfort food has to be naughty? This super easy recipe will have you satiated, and I highly recommend an afternoon siesta right after.

The last leg of the year brings with it the cooler weather we’ve all been craving in the UAE, and with it comes the harvest season for some of the finest the Arabian seas have to offer.

Taking full advantage of seafood season, award-winning Indian restaurant India Palace has launched a limited edition menu entitled ‘Samundari Khazana’  (which aptly translates to ‘Treasures of the Sea’).

We were invited back to Medley Restaurant at Pullman Hotel (adjacent to Deira City Centre mall, Dubai) for a scrumptious Diwali dinner by celebrity Indian Chef Sweety Singh.

We’ve had his buffet before, but this time round we actually got to meet the man himself! He greeted us at the door with the warmth of a long lost friend, and ushered us to his authentically Punjabi buffet.

Diwali, the Indian festival of light, is fast approaching this Thursday 19th October.

” One of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, it spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair.” – Wikipedia.

 

With twinkling diyas (Indian clay lamps), an array of festive treats and clothing as colorful as Bollywood dance sequences, Diwali is a great time of year to let out the inner Desi in all of us.

Last weekend we were invited for a Diwali brunch at Bombay Bungalow (at JBR, Dubai). This was my very first visit here, and I was absolutely awestruck with the interiors. The turquoise walls, the intricate vintage-style Indian decor is so picturesque and Instagram-worthy!

Last week I was back at my all-time favorite Indian fusion café on CityWalk (phase 2); that would be Farzi Café ofcourse! We had a hearty lunch covering many of our favorites, and a few brand new quirky gems.

‘Farzi’ translates to ‘illusion’, and that is exactly what you get here… each and every item served on the table comes with an unexpected surprise of its own.

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A dainty Mango Amuse Bouche to whet the appetite.

 

Eid weekend and a table at Farzi? Next to impossible! Clever me, I had us booked in well in advance. With its earthy woods and chic café artwork, Farzi Café is a beautiful nook to spend time with friends and family, and especially so with all that sunshine flooding in. All this natural lighting does wonders for my Instagram feeds as well!

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Bukhara is a historical city of Uzbekistan. For centuries, Bukhara has been a center for trade, arts, culture and religion, and fell on the Silk Road that connected it to the Indian subcontinent. This pathway brought the Moghuls to India, and was home to the great Mongolian emperor Genghis Khan. With this came a great deal of social and culinary influences such as clay oven baking, the art of skewered kebabs and rustic brass cookware.

Reliving the authenticity of this historical bond, Bukhara restaurant at Kempinski Ajman recreates the charm of a bygone era with a spacious interior elaborately decorated with unique, vintage curios, brass vessels and carved wood. Even the staff here are dressed to match the ambiance with elaborately embroidered suits and golden sandals.

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.

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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.

I envy the people working in Bay Square, they are so spoilt for choice with foodie options. I’ve found myself revisiting this urban hub a number of times in the past few months, each visit for a totally different cuisine. Recently, we were invited to Masala Pot, a familial name that screams of fiery curries, biryanis and other subcontinental delights. They have a few branches scattered around the UAE, but I have never been and wasn’t sure on what to expect.

The restaurant has quirky-cool interiors, taking inspiration from newspaper cuttings. The walls are marked with tongue in cheek Hindi-English quotes relating to food, and everything here has a pale orange halo, so in tune with curries and the saffron hue of Indian patriotism. The restaurant looks more like a chic café, and the pricing here is definitely in line with this. A meal for two at Masala Pot will suffice under AED 150 easily.