Kofta on the shore
Indian is undoubtedly one of the most popular cuisines worldwide, from Scotland to the States people can’t get enough of it. Middle East chefs tell us about it
Would you say Indian cuisine is popular in this region?
head chef, Bombay Brasserie: Definitely! With over 2 million Indians in the city, I believe it is one of the most popular cuisines in the region.
head chef, Bombay Bungalow: According to statistics from various agencies Indian cuisine is the most popular cuisine in the region predominantly because of two factors: the sheer amount of Indians living and working in the region and the cultural similarities of the cuisine in the region.
head chef, Masti: Indian cuisine is very popular in the Middle East because there is a large Indian population who always want a taste of home. Then there is the fact that many international travellers are also big fans of Indian food and want to try it when they travel.
head chef, Mohalla: Yes, it is and what makes it popular is the long history and a lot of other reasons. The large influx of Indian expatriates into the Middle East during the 1970s and 1980s has led to the popularity of Indian cuisine. Indian food has become a staple diet of this region. Its versatility and simplicity makes it popular amongst different nationalities. It is very well-received in the Middle East due to the long history of trade and relationship between the two.
head chef, Swaad: Absolutely!
With a large population from subcontinent based in UAE and other GCC countries, it’s undoubtedly one of the most popular cuisines. Indian cuisine as well as traditional spices have been admired in the region for many generations. Moreover, Indian cuisine has also gained popularity in global hospitality, courtesy of fusion renditions of India’s speciality dishes.
How authentic is your preparation of Indian cuisine – are recipes tweaked to suit a local audience? Negi:
It’s rather simple actually, we keep the flavours authentic and have fun with the plating and presentations. We stick to the basics, keep things simple and never shy away from change.
Our preparation is quite authentic however with Dubai being a mix of so many nationalities who have a varied palate there are certain dishes which are tweaked to the local audience especially in terms of spice levels. We plan our menus in a way that we can make sure there are enough options for guests to choose from.
Our array of Indian inspired sharing plates takes cues and influence from a variety of global flavors. The cuisine and concept are heavily inspired by India, recreating authentic flavors and dishes served in a contemporary and modern manner, with flavour, colour and presentation all prevailing in the food which can be seen on any given table during a dining experience.
The methods, the preparations and the flavor stays authentic at Mohalla. We have just toned it down a bit on the spices. We concentrate on using less fat, no artificial food colouring, and the freshest ingredients. That doesn’t mean the food we serve is just like any other regular Indian restaurant. We are located at D3 and we have a mix of crowd to cater to and the menu and the recipes have been compiled and designed according to their needs.
For the most part, we tweak our dishes such that the flavours suit our local patrons. We have to keep international flavours in mind while creating a menu. At Swaad, we always aim to retain the soul of the dish and its authentic flavours while adding ingredients or sides that hold an appeal to our patrons. Every chef has a distinct cooking style and experiments with flavours to determine what works best for their establishment, while staying true to the cuisine.
Is it easy to source your
Dubai is a melting pot of cultures and cuisines, this makes it easy for the ingredients to be sourced in the local market.
It is quiet easy to source quality products needed to deliver a high quality and an authentic experience to our guests, however sometimes we do have limitations in sourcing certain products which we import directly from India.
The cuisine and concept are heavily inspired by India, recreating authentic flavours and dishes served in a contemporary and modern manner which would mean we have a bigger pantry to choose from, borrowing from other cuisines and cultures. Our menu has wasabi, truffles, burratta cheese, French oysters, Asian baos.
Dubai being the hub of trade and the aviation industry and having a huge Indian population it has always been easy to source ingredients but since the ingredients are sourced from different countries the quality is not consistent.
Fortunately, we are part of a country that is considering towing an iceberg from Antarctica hence sourcing ingredients indigenous to different cultures in a country like UAE is extremely easy. We try to source as many ingredients as possible locally, in order to promote sustainability, and we also have international suppliers with offices based in the UAE that help us procure speciality ingredients required by our chefs.
What are your biggest challenges?
When people from different countries having different perceptions about Indian cuisine come to dine at Bombay Brasserie. I take this as a challenge to showcase traditional Indian cuisine and use a lot of techniques which are used in Indian households to satisfy each and everyone’s palate.
The biggest challenge is to understand the ever-changing consumer behaviour and adapting to their habits and the economic factors affecting the region currently.
The biggest challenge for us is to create the right balance of India and the world in every dish. Masti challenges the perception of Indian restaurants. We had to make the dishes relate to the rich culture and heritage of India while at the same time give them their own unique identity.
The biggest challenge is the consistent quality of ingredients since the suppliers change their source of the produce as and when required according to the season.
The only challenge is to ensure consistency in the quality of ingredients. The government regulation on importing perishable items is stringent in the UAE; therefore we can be assured of the quality of goods provided by our vendors but we still have to monitor the quality of the goods supplied by our vendors so that they comply with our brand standards. Moreover, advanced technologies in food-procurement and processing has also made it possible to transport items far from their source of origin in perfect conditions.
What is the latest trend in Indian cuisine?
It would be the “eat healthy and live healthy” trend that Dubai is aiming for. The need for healthy food is on the rise as Indians have become increasingly health conscious un recent years. At Bombay Brasserie, we ensure that we serve healthy food to our guests without compromising on the Indian authentic taste.
Indian cuisine over the last few years has become more approachable and the regional focus of dishes has increased. Now we see more and more regional dishes on restaurant menus: the Jakiya potato and the Goan xacuti dish are examples on how the trend is changing from serving the traditional kebabs and curries to regional favourites. Street food favourites have also returned to the menus from fast-casual to upmarket restaurants.
Indian food is getting more regional. Dishes which would never feature on a menu now take centre stage. Popular street food is part of every menu from fast casual to fine dine restaurants
Right now the Dubai market is saturated with restaurants trying to do modern Indian food by just using some theatrics and only a few are successful. Here at Mohalla we are digging deeper into the streets and sub-regions of every Indian state and bringing out the dishes which Dubai has never seen/tasted before. So I think this is the new trend we are going to set.
Indian cuisine offered now is either completely authentic and traditional or fusion as is the trend with many other cuisines. Another trend that is generating interest amongst diners is molecular gastronomy and many well-known Indian chefs are now taking this route to present a renewed version of the revered cuisine ©