A winter treat to relish at Dubai Marina
Tucked away amidst the yachts, food trucks and tourists at the Dubai Marina, Zafran (which translates to saffron in Urdu) hopes to add sweetness and zest to the winter ambience with its 'fiery' food. While for people familiar with Indian cuisine, the flavours at Zafran Indian Bistro may seem normal, it is definitely a must-try for those who've always wanted to explore the Indian side of food, but were sceptical of the fiery flavours this style of cooking entails. However, rest assured, newcomers to Asian cuisine won't be disappointed as the spices at Zafran have been tempered to suit most palates.
Located on the promenade of the Dubai Marina Mall, the restaurant overlooks a rather busy food street. With yachts moored alongside the pier, it's really a pleasant sight.
Walk into the restaurant and you're greeted with lounge music and the aromatic whiff of Mughlai dishes. With the winter evenings getting breezier and colder and the skies getting clearer, there's nothing better than sitting on the terrace overlooking the marina and enjoying some piping hot and spicy Indian dishes. The food and the ambience here seem to complement each other.
As we watch seafaring revelers return in their luxury yachts and tourists stroll along the promenade, some stopping over at the food trucks for a quick bite or to take a selfie, we decide to tuck into our first course - Chaat Platter.
The starter comprised an assortment of Indian street food items like Onion Pakora, Samosa, Dhokla, Bhel Puri and Aloo Tikka. Served with a variety chutneys, we devoured it in a jiffy as the chilled breeze blowing across made us feel unusually hungry. Though we liked the platter, we must say that such items are best enjoyed on the roadside.
Next up was a platter of grilled kebabs featuring Murgh Malai Tikka, Chicken Tikka, Murgh Pudina and Rampuri Seekh Kebab. Full marks to the Rampuri for being fresh and juicy with its unusual blend of spices.
An assortment of gravy-based dishes was next on the list and we chowed on Dum Ka Murgh, Laal Maas, Paneer Makhani and Pindi Chole. Here the Dum Ka Murgh was a unique presentation. The boneless cubes of chicken blended well with the cashewnut, almond and yoghurt gravy, reminded us of the mildly-spiced chicken Afghani in look and taste.
Another pick amongst the mains was the delectable Laal Maas. One of the top dishes to originate from the state of Rajasthan, it featured succulent pieces of lamb cooked to perfection in a delicious onion and tomato gravy. The rich 'laal' (red) colour was brought about by the generous use of Kashmiri chillies, which are known to impart flavour and colour and they're not as pungent as other Asian red chillies. The gravy was so delicious that we swiped off the remains with the leftover rotis and parathas.
And how could we make a meal of it without taking a bite of the restaurant's famed dish, Chicken Zafran Biryani. This dish is served in an earthen pot and sealed with dough to make it more aromatic, of course every morsel is enriched with saffron and spices.
We ended with a dessert platter featuring Malai Kulfi, Rasmalai, Baked Yoghurt and Beetroot Halwa.
A special mention has to go to the baked yoghurt. If you happen to be from Kolkata or have been a visitor to the city, you'd surely be familiar with their ubiquitous Mishti Doi and the baked yoghurt gave our taste buds that feeling of Oh! Calcutta.
The next time you are around the Marina and craving Indian cuisine, Zafran Indian Bistro is a sure bet to satiate your tastebuds.
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