How Indian is fine dining restaurant Tresind in Dubai?

Located at the Radisson Royal Hotel on SZR, Tresind is devoid of all that snazzy Indian decor that graces many a banquet-style Indian restaurant.

By Rohit Nair (senior Features Writer)

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Published: Mon 13 Apr 2015, 2:21 PM

Last updated: Thu 8 Sep 2022, 9:15 AM

Tresind - which I'm assured is not tres-Ind (very Ind-ian), but, much to my disappointment, tre-sind, even though they're sticking with the same definition - is true to what it stands for. Barring the weird French guffaw, and I promise that's the last of that, it is what Indian food might one day transcend to, traditions (mostly) and customs (maybe) well intact for the modern, discerning connoisseur. And that's no mean feat, because, as many foodies, restaurateurs, chefs, and even the guy making pakodas on the street, will tell you, Indian food is just too bleeding diverse to stick on one single menu!

Located at the Radisson Royal Hotel on SZR, Tresind is devoid of all that snazzy Indian decor that graces many a banquet-style Indian restaurant. No maroon chairs with frills at the bottom; just clean white, modern interiors with a dash of colour here and there. It may seem a little bleak to those used to the riot of colours, but the food will distract you. The service is warm and attentive, and the head chef occasionally pops out to serve too, especially when it comes to one of the restaurant's signature takes on chaat, that ubiquitous umbrella of Indian street food.

But we start with a twist on pani puri, or gol gappa or puchka, whichever you prefer. I assure you, you haven't had it as an amusebouche and you probably haven't &realised the complexity of this masterful street concoction you've been cramming into your mouths until now. It's a bubble of the minty and sour tamarind liquids that the puris get dipped into, that explodes with the pop of the crunchy puri creating the same sensations, but in a whole new way.

Following this is another twisted take on the love of tea, more specifically, chai, in India. However, it's a mushroom soup, where morel mushrooms are the tea leaves, truffle powder the milk and a tandoori guchchi (an Indian fungus/mushroom) consomme forming the hot water. Describing it like this, of course, does zero justice to the actual thing, which is a must-try. A little overwhelming with the intense flavours of the mushrooms and truffle - nevertheless, quite delicious.

And then came the chaat trolley, where the chaat is rustled up - just like you would have it on the streets of Mumbai, Kolkata or Delhi - in front of you in seconds. A little bit of liquid nitrogen there (yes!), frozen dhokla here, a splash of yoghurt and spices and the chaat, which, by the end of its splattering on the trolley resembles a Jackson Pollock painting, is ready to serve. It's delicious, just in case you're wondering if the effort paid off. Shortly after comes the palate cleanser - the humble khandvi - reformed and reconstituted into a sorbet that's tempered with curry leaves and mustard. It's all still very Indian, just not what you're used to seeing.

My entree was the braised lamb, which was cooked perfectly, coated with raw mango chutney, and served with aam papad. When's the last time you had aam papad? Precisely. But the piece de resistance is the dessert - Daulat ki Chaat, which is basically soan papdi and nimish, two of my most favourite Indian sweets, together. It's divine, fit for the Nawabs that first savoured these incredible desserts, and to make it extra Nawabi, a very Dubai touch - 24k gold sprinkled on top! I couldn't care less because the rest is exquisite. There's also jalebi tacos and rabdi churros, a zany take on the classic jalebi and rabdi combo, but it's not as good as the Daulat ki Chaat and never will be.

I've been re-reading Camellia Punjabi's 50 Great Curries of India of late, rifling through recipes to cook and to also find the many connects and contexts of the diverse platter that is Indian food - the quest never ceases - and her ‘introduction to Indian food' is seminally pointed.

Trying to put India on a menu is not the easiest task, which is probably what makes a lot of Indian restaurants a real gamble. There's just too much diversity and, ironically, nothing that stands out as "Indian". Tresind manages to put all those diverse things in one place and does it so intriguingly innovatively that you can't help but rethink Indian food. But my biggest concern (apart from that name) is that you'd have to know your Indian food to really appreciate the subtleties that Tresind is trying to execute here. To most, it will look like fancifully repackaged Indian fare, but to the discerning lot, it's very, very Indian.

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