For the ma­jor­ity of us, we see im­ages of Ira­nian or Turk­ish cuisines when­ever the word ke­bab hits our ears, but I got to find out that there is a lot more va­ri­ety than your causal kebabs made with touches from dif­fer­ent cul­tures. This week we visit Quresh

HI Weekly - - FRONT PAGE - STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY SALEM AFIFI — [email protected]­so­fo­

Thoughts of smoul­der­ing red char­coal, suc­cu­lent grilled kebabs and the aroma of ex­otic spices will surely make you visit the Qureshi Res­tau­rant for a bite.

Th­ese meaty es­capades may re­fer to any dish made of fish, meat, or veg­eta­bles, rolled in a skewer and bar­be­cued to de­sired taste, of­fer­ing a smoky taste to en­ter­tain your taste­buds. Th­ese fire-kissed dishes were fa­mous in Iran and Turkey, but later on be­came a global feast bor­rowed by many other cul­tures and cuisines, in­clud­ing In­dia’s, they have be­come a sta­ple within Indian cui­sine, and it cer­tainly el­e­vated the meaty, greasy taste to a more flavour­some, spiced up treat that trans­ports you to grilled-food heaven.

I had the plea­sure of meet­ing the fa­mous Qureshi brother, Ash­faque and Ir­fan Qureshi, who came to town to kick­start the Tan­doori Kebabs Fes­ti­val. The fam­ily is a pi­o­neer in the food and bev­er­ages in­dus­try, with more than 13 restau­rants rang­ing from fast food, to ca­sual joints, to fine din­ing. Here in Oman, they have opened Qureshi Bab Al Hind Res­tau­rant, a fine din­ing Indian res­tau­rant that serves ex­otic kebabs, along­side tra­di­tional dishes with exclusive touches from the house of Qureshi. From mouth-melt­ing kebabs, to flavour­some birya­nis, it’s noth­ing short of a trip to In­dia.

Com­bin­ing breezy, feel-good weather with warm, smoky kebabs is al­ways a great idea, promis­ing a stel­lar ex­pe­ri­ence on the out­doors of Grand Hor­muz Ho­tel.

As I ar­rived, I was of­fered a warm greet­ing by the waiters who es­corted me to my place. The dec­o­ra­tions and over­all vibe gave me a rem­i­nis­cence of the Holy Month. The place has a warm tone with black and gold colour pal­ette, ac­cented with a bunch of lanterns. The serene at­mos­phere was to die for. I was of­fered a seat with views of the ho­tel’s swim­ming pool and on my right there was the bar­be­cue sta­tion, where the magic hap­pens.

The menu for the fes­ti­val is sim­ple and to-the-point. You have your veg­e­tar­ian, non-veg­e­tar­ian, and main dishes. The smell of bar­be­cued meat was fill­ing my nos­trils, I couldn’t re­sist but to or­der ev­ery­thing on that menu.

Af­ter tick­ling my ap­petite with crispy treats, chut­neys, and fresh or­ange-pineap­ple juice I dived into the first plat­ter, which had an as­sort­ment of grilled fruits and veg­eta­bles, veg­e­tar­ian ke­bab, and a mas­sive chunk of pa­neer tikka. Not a hard­core fan of no-meat treats but folks who are veg­e­tar­i­ans will ab­so­lutely love it as the veg­etable ke­bab was de­li­cious and flavour­ful.

Soon my ta­ble got filled with a plat­ter full of meat. I switched my car­ni­vore mode on and took a dive into the pro­teins. The plate had a va­ri­ety of meats; it was lit­er­ally an es­capade that’s graced with bursts of flavours. What was on the menu you ask? Grilled chicken, mar­i­nated in an in-house spe­cial sauce, and blended with crushed black pep­pers was sim­ply a de­light. The dish was as juicy as chick­ens get, giv­ing me smoky, ten­der taste for days. Chicken breasts grilled and stuffed with a bunch of herbs and cheese was another ab­so­lutely de­li­cious treat. Cheese makes any­thing taste yummy, and this did not dis­ap­point; the chicken was mildly spicy, and the molten cheese added a creamy flavour to the al­ready smoky dish.

For seafood lovers, there is but­ter-fried crispy fish, ocean­scented grilled prawns along with ten­der quail bird meat. But the rock­star at the fes­ti­val is the Qureshi’s sig­na­ture dish Kakori ke­bab, a del­i­cate, melt-in-your-mouth dish made out of minced lamb. This is the soft­est ke­bab I have ever tasted. It was an in­ter­est­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that con­tested the typ­i­cal, chunky, must-bite kebabs and tikkas. As I was seated with Ash­faque, he nar­rated a quick story on the sig­na­ture kebabs. As the story goes, the Mus­lim rulers in In­dia were huge fans of kebabs, but when they be­came old they still longed for that smoky flavour of char­grilled dishes but strug­gle to do the chew­ing. Thus this softer ver­sion of kebabs were made to serve the roy­als.

While I stayed en­grossed in the his­tor­i­cal tales I con­tin­ued eat­ing kebabs with fresh out of the oven naan, and some­thing ex­tra spe­cial: Dal Qureshi, a creamy, earthy, and smoky dal makhani that lends an earthy and smoky taste to the lentils, which are cooked for 18 hours (the long­est cooked dal), and served hot. I’m a sucker for dal makhani, and this one was the creme de la creme of all lentil-based dishes, pe­riod.

By this time, my stom­ach has be­come bloated. Still, I wasn’t go­ing to leave with­out tast­ing their biryani, I’m Omani af­ter all, my rice fix can­not be com­pro­mised. The clay-pot served dish was fra­grant, and tossed with chunks of ten­der, bone­less meat. I took a cou­ple of spoon­fuls. The taste was as ex­pected from a fine din­ing res­tau­rant, im­pec­ca­ble.

Af­ter hav­ing a busy week at work, I needed to go to a quiet place to just chill for a while, re­flect, and just en­joy the weather. Qureshi of­fered me all that and more. It was a great ex­pe­ri­ence full of char-grilled kebabs from the amaz­ing Qureshi broth­ers. Don’t miss this fes­ti­val.

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