IN­DIAN BY NA­TURE There’s plenty of buzz online about this new In­dian out­let, but is the praise jus­ti­fied?

What's On (Abu Dhabi) - - EAT // REVIEW -

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.

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