INDIAN BY NATURE There’s plenty of buzz online about this new Indian outlet, but is the praise justified?
hanks to the power of social networking, there’s been a fair bit of talk about Indian By Nature, a new restaurant that opened a couple of months ago two blocks south of Abu Dhabi Mall.
Chaat and thali are the big draws at this vegetarian outlet, as are the prices, even though the restaurant describes its food as gourmet. It’s an independent eatery started by a husband and wife team and serves dosa for around Dhs10, thalis for Dhs18 and chaat dishes such as bhel puri for Dhs9. Fancy a la carte? There’s plenty of tandoor dishes and curries such as paneer methi malai, and none of them cost more than Dhs28. Indian By Nature is cheap but it offers a comprehensive tour of eight cuisines – you can try Kashmiri, Punjabi, Delhi, Rajasthani, Gujarati, Bengali, Andhra and Tamilian.
It’s rare What’s On feels compelled to return for a second visit before writing a review, but after trying the a la carte menu on our first trip, we left confused and disappointed. Why were people raving about this place online? The food really
Twas a mixed bag. A starter of paneer shashlik (rectangular chunks of cheese covered in sesame seeds) was tasty and nicely served in shot glasses with a chili sauce, yet the beetroot tikka was a letdown – it was bland and uninspiring. The biryani’s taste was overwhelmed by elachi, while the gobi (cauliflower) mussallam faired better but lacked oomph. It was ordinary. Our second trip went some way explaining what the fuss is all about – we decided to try the much talked about thalis, and its Punjab version is the real reason you should visit. The three curries (paneer, vegetable and potato) were dynamite, as was a smooth dal makhani. We also had another crack at its biryanis (this time the IBN Signature version) and it also excelled – there was no overwhelming taste of elachi this time, and a mango pickle on the side lifted it to another level.
Indian By Nature’s menu is huge, and maybe that’s the problem – a less is more approach might help, because some of the dishes are exceptional. It’s just frustrating to have to go through some duds before you find them.
Shop 2 and 3, Tolico Building, Al Najda, Abu Dhabi, daily 8am to 3pm, 5pm to 11pm. Tel: (02) 3048054. Taxi: near Lebanese Roastery and National Hospital.