If you love food and food shows, you cannot NOT have watched MasterChef in its various avatars. And whatever be your favourite version (mine is MasterChef Australia and of course, purely for nostalgic reasons, India), you cannot NOT be impressed by the talent and the sheer chutzpah of the budding chefs as they showcase their creativity, tenacity and determination to win the coveted title.
Dubai foodies got a slice of the entire experience with the recent launch of MasterChef, the TV Experience – the world’s first, screen-to-plate restaurant concept at Millennium Place, Marina. Meaning, inspired by the show in every aspect – from the interiors and the logo to the menu, which is a wonderfully curated selection of dishes created by winners and finalists of the series from various part of the world - it’s an original and unique experience, un-restricted by geography or cuisine, from the word go.
This Eid-ul-Fitr, the restaurant has a special treat by the youngest MasterChef India winner – Abu Dhabi based Nikita Gandhi will be the first champion to create a limited-edition five course menu on June 6 and 7. The restaurant plans to host an array of MasterChef finalists and champions in the coming months.
First things first. Nikita Gandhi is vegetarian and the menu she has created for Eid is also a full vegetarian one. Frankly, we were skeptical about it. After all, how can a menu without meat or seafood be considered a complete experience? Well, having tried the dishes, here is the verdict: do not be deterred by the lack of meat. The flavours of the dishes presented and the combinations are so complete in itself that you really don’t miss the meat.
It begins with a welcome beverage of Spicy Kiwi Mimosa that mixes kiwi with green chilli and mint popsicle in elderflower tonic water. Interesting. I would have liked the spice and sting of the chilli more but the faint spice in the popsicle is quite enjoyable.
This is followed by the amuse-bouche – blackout panipuri. A crazy twist on one of our favourite chaat items, this one had charcoal based-puris lending it a black colour and stuffing was with mango and pineapple salsa and passionfruit foam. Crunchy and tangy.
The piece de resistance was the next item on the menu – the paneer tikka empanada. The crust stuffed with tikka-flavoured paneer and mozzarella was absolutely delicious. It had the perfect balance of spices, the squishy paneer fitting in nicely within the slightly crunchy empanada crust; one bite revitalized all our taste buds! For a vegetarian, this is food heaven. And it’s so different and better than the usual paneer tikka every single Indian restaurant has been serving us!
Paneer Tikka Empanada
The mains were interesting in concept but had a couple of flaws. The Indian Inspired Eggplant Parmesan had stacks of crisp eggplant layered with ricotta cheese served on a coating of makhni sauce. The makhni sauce? Excellent. The ricotta stuffing. Superb. The eggplant? A bit too crisp and a tad too hard to run your knife through. Overall, the flavours were great. The wild mushroom kofta, served with slices of butter naan the second main dish was delicious, especially the pumpkin sauce that formed the base. But perhaps the koftas on its own was a complete meal and did not need the naan to accompany it, we felt.
Indian Inspired Eggplant Parmesan
A palate cleanser later, the dessert followed and it was again a well-made, well-balanced and very well-presented end to an interesting meal. The stuffed kulfi bar had pista filling, ice-cream and dark chocolate and thankfully it wasn’t too sweet or heavy.
Dessert - Stuffed Kulfi
Nikita Gandhi’s twist to popular vegetarian Indian dishes are definitely recommended, hopefully a couple of them can make it to the main menu as well.
INFO: 7pm-11pm; Available exclusively on June 6 and 7; Dhs 360 per person with alcoholic beverage pairing, firstname.lastname@example.org, 04 550 8111