Get your non-meat fix at Kamat this Navratri
“AND IS THERE a vegetarian option?”
The inquiry that usually emanates from a friend of a friend, sat at the opposite end of the table, for some reason, can often provoke an irrational reaction. It’s not that vegetarianism is disliked, nor is it a slight on the characters of those who wish to practice it, but just once, it would be nice for the waiter to respond with, “Indeed, there is a vegetarian option. You can leave.”
A cheap shot (albeit cleaned up), courtesy barb-tongued comic Frankie Boyle there, but it does provide a pointer to my initial reaction at the prospect of sitting down to an herbivorous meal.
I’m reliably informed by my colleagues that this week marks the festival of Navratri, a nine-day period of celebration during which many believers choose to forego eating meat. It was with this in mind that finally getting round to reviewing a vegetarian restaurant seemed apt. Opting for Kamat along Kuwait Street in Bur Dubai, my colleagues agreed to join – most likely to ensure I sampled the whole menu and didn’t just plump for multiple variations of fried cheese.
Heading into the modern styled eatery, it was surprising how full it was on a Sunday evening. This was a promising sign; if it were to be a night of all vegetables, at least we’d come to a place that no doubt does them well.
My assumption was correct. The first round of cocktail samosas, papdi chaat, bhalla papdi and palak paneer makhi seekh, hit the spot perfectly. Barring the paneer being a little flavourless, the two chaat dishes were delicious. Sweet and creamy, they were almost instantly polished off, the mini samosas providing a bit of tangy solidity as a high note.
The most surprising aspect of finishing the starters was that the lack of meat went unnoticed. Once the spices had done their job, the substitute ingredients (especially in the samosas) were perfectly adequate.
This theme carried on throughout dinner. A cheese dosa would never be anything else other than a large pancake, however the rest of the dishes could have contained lamb, chicken or beef. The baby corn chatpata, Lahori aloo and paneer Manchurian were superb. Mopped up with an assortment of naan bread and accompanied by dal makhani and pav bhaji (the buttered rolls were spectacular), nothing can really be picked out for criticism.
Perhaps a few of the items could have contained a touch more chilli to make them really stand out, but as things went, nothing was left untouched.
Desserts were typical Indian treats that didn’t really excite, but were fine.
Has Kamat made me a vegetarian convert? No, though, I’ll think twice before being so dismissive in future.