What it comes to food, like a lot else, necessity is the mother of invention. Beautiful Rajasthan's hot and dry climate doesn't support the growth of too many vegetables but instead of diminishing its cuisine, this has actually boosted the state's culinary creativity. Adapting a when-life-serves-you-lemons-make-lemonade attitude, the canvas of ingredients includes lentils, gram flour, mango powder and buttermilk. We're fans so, given the opportunity, headed down for a preview of the Rajasthani Food Festival (on from 30 April to 16 May 2014) menu at Antique Bazaar.
Antique Bazaar's definitely a restaurant with personality (from the tables with trinkets embedded below the glass-topped table to the live music - perfect if you love your old Hindi songs) and so the food gets a great backdrop. We visited on a Saturday evening, beat after a serious shopping session, and were roused right away by the kairi ki chaach (Dhs24). Green mangoes and mint give it the fresh taste and colour, while the roasted cumin powder adds a kick. We thought the drink could do without the added sugar but wasn't too sweet even with it.
The mirchi vada aur kadhi (Dhs36) is a classic done well. Calorie watchers, be warned - it has potatoes and it's deep-fried but the yogurt goes a long way in giving it a bit of a light touch.
Mirchi vada aur kadhi
Meanwhile, the fiery maas ka soola (Dhs66) is a desi carnivore's dream - think lamb cubes marinated with raw papaya and tandoori masala - juicy and flavoursome with every bite.
Maas ka soola
The safed murgh (Dhs60) was a tad too rich for us, what with the gravy being made of cashew nuts combined with yogurt. But the chicken was perfectly cooked and we'd recommend taking your time with this dish as you team it up with the missi palak ki roti (Dhs12) that's nicely down-to-earth.
We were served a true staple in the form of gatta curry next and really enjoyed it. The steamed gram flour dumplings were good enough to eat on their own but we had a bit of mix-and-match combining them with the dal maharaja (Dhs46).
Safed murgh and gatta curry
Another hit for us was the baati masala (Dhs20). It's a bit like a mini gift box really: hard wheat flour rolls stuffed with green peas, cashew nut, raisins and roasted gram flour. Cooked on charcoal, it's got an authentic feel all the way.
And then there was the Choorma (Dhs30). More gram, this time mixed with green cardamom, pistachio, almonds, saffron and ghee. So good - worth ditching the diet for!
Choorma, baati masala and dal maharaja
INFO: Rajasthani Food Festival at Antique Bazaar on from 30 April to 16 May 2014, lunch 12:30pm- 3pm (except on Fridays when the restaurant is closed for lunch) and dinner 7:30pm-3am; Four Points by Sheraton, Khalid Bin Walid Street, Bur Dubai, 04 397 7444, www.antiquebazaar-dubai.com.