A taste from the table of Indian Royals
I knew I wanted the food of kings, and my mind kept echoing "Shahi" (translates to Royal in Hindi). This place gave me a taste of just that.
Dark wooden furniture, warmly lit interiors, with accents of brass and gold, Gazebo at Deira City Centre whisks you away from the maddening crowd and bright stores that surround it. It makes you feel as close to Indian royalty as you can.
The summer in the UAE can wear you out, and the moment I entered this haven of goodness, I could suddenly feel relaxed. To soothe my parched self I asked for the coconut water with mint leaves and honey. A new twist to the original drink, I thought it would have tasted best if served chilled. Anyway, getting my hands on real coconut water made me happy enough. And for once I didn't associate a coconut drink with the beach and my toes in the sand. It's as elite as coconut water can get.
Then came the Mango Lassi. This was a make it or break it order I'd placed; because Mango Lassi can either be really good, or can go horribly wrong. To my delight, it was spot on. One moment it tasted like a mouthful of mango, and the next it was a creamy sip of lassi. There wasn't an in between, and I wasn't complaining.
(L-R) Mango Lassi; coconut water with mint leaves and honey
So far, my experience at Gazebo was going well. The stillness of the restaurant was only disturbed by the occasional sound of utensils in the distance, by the aroma of spices in the food being served to other customers, and by the waiters' constant politeness.
For appetizers, I was pretty confused by the vast menu. But the staff was really kind, they not only suggested dishes, but also gave me the time to decide. I knew I wanted the food of kings, and my mind kept echoing "Shahi" (translates to Royal in Hindi). This place just makes you want to taste royalty. So I ordered for Gosht Zafrani Seekh which was minced mutton in spices, flavoured with saffron, skewered and chargrilled. It was spiced perfectly for my palate. It blew my mind - spiced, flavoured, textured. It had every element to make every bite impeccable.
Next on was the Kalimirch Kebabs. The chicken was cooked beautifully - think tender, marinated in curd with a right sprinkle of kalimirch (black pepper corns).
(L-R) Gosht Zafrani Seekh, Kalimirch Kebabs
While I waited for the appetizers to arrive, I gorged on some crispy papad and dips of mint + curd chutney, along with some lightly spiced curd. The dips complemented the fiery red Gosht Zafrani Seekh and ever-succulent buttery Kalimirch Kebabs to a T.
What makes the biryani so good?
I was starting to get quite full up with the rich platter of starters. So I moved onto main course, and asked for the most raved about dish at Gazebo - the Boti Hyderabadi Briyani. To give you an overview it is boneless chunks of mutton marinated in a special Hyderabadi masala, cooked in spices, rice, fried onions and boiled egg. When it arrived to my table, it looked real delicious and tasted just as heavenly.
Biryani being served
Boti Hyderabadi Briyani
There was this one ingredient I can't quite understand, but it just enhanced all the flavours in that biryani pot. I could taste it, but couldn't pin it. It was a little like ginger, and then star anise, and a little cumin somewhere in between. I asked the waiters, and even the manager and his reply was, "It's the chef's secret." I wanted to pry on this secret ingredient, but am still to find out.
I ended the meal with a good helping of firni, which is a sweetened rice dessert. It's rich, it's heavy and the one they serve at Gazebo sure melts in your mouth.
I'd been there for two hours and still wasn't ready to leave. There was something that made me want to stay. I wasn't dreading the heat outside, or the work that followed, it had to be the experience that I never wanted to end. Well for the afternoon, at least.
Verdict: Portions suffice two
Must try: Gosht Zafrani Seekh and Boti Hyderabadi Briyani
Cost for 2: Dh200