Always begin with the end in mind. While the Stephen Covey management lesson may at times be hard to implement at work, I have no qualms admitting I apply this diligently to every meal I have.
So was the case at the aptly named Nawab restaurant (a rejigged version of the 1989 Dubai hotspot) at Jebel Ali Recreation Club — a favourite haunt of local residents — which still retains a bit of the old world Dubai charm surrounded as it is by an old school club atmosphere.
The Friday we decided to dine in, a raucous kids party meant the music could be heard a mile away, and while the licensed outlet, we gather could get loud due to the presence of a live musician bent on outperforming the stereo music coming from across the pub, there was no taking away from the fact the food is the main draw out here.
The Palak Patta Chat — crispy spinach leaves with an extremely arty and generous serving of yoghurt, tamarind and coriander chutney over it — retained its ‘just-fried’ texture despite being doused in various sauces and garnished with crackling bhel and matchstick thin beetroot slices that complemented the overall flavours.
It was sweet, tangy and cool in equal measures, providing a very pleasing appetizer to what was to turn out to be a rich dining experience.
While the Tandoori Prawns, that came behind it was just so-so, the Tandoori Murg on a bed of marinated onions with splotches of coriander and mango chutney was cooked to perfection — juicy and succulent, with the meat tearing away with a gentle touch of the fork.
All this while the old school 80s live Bollywood music kept the energy flowing, as did the kids jumping about. The open dining area is more of a casual setting, perfect for that loud family Friday get-together or a late night pick-me-up or even to wind down before heading home.
The Chicken Biryani we opted for the main course, was easily one of the best-flavoured rice-meat combo we have eaten in a long time.
The Bhuna Mutton Masala recommended by the restaurant, was also a lesson in Nawabi cuisine done well. The spiced tomato-onion gravy mopped up with the handkerchief sized roomali roti, and the tender boneless meat flaking off the cutlery with a melt-in-the-mouth texture alone worthy of repeated visits.
Which brings us to the sweet ending, the aptly named Anarkali — a swoon-worthy Ras Malai with a sprinkling of boondi ladoo floating around in a creamy saffron infused kulfi rabadi, was just the thing to wrap up the Friday afternoon.
Nawabi cuisine, is known for its traditionally rich and spice-infused flavours and Nawab, true to its name, does it well. If live music and a buzzing community gastropub feel is what you are up for, then this is the spot.
Nawab is open daily from 12 noon to 1am at Jebel Ali Recreation Club. An average meal for two costs around Dh250-300 here.