There is a twist here. A bit of a turn there. A few expert moves and some huge surprises – in a nutshell that’s how one can describe Chef Pradeep Khullar’s Ramadan menu at Mint Leaf of London Dubai. While last year, the restaurant had gone the British-India route, tracing its past through its cuisine, this time Khullar explores the streets of India and beyond. Street food for an Iftar menu? We were as surprised as you were – but herein lies the catch and the ingenuity. Digging deep into the streets of Delhi and elsewhere, adding a bit of Middle Eastern touch, the unique mix and match of ingredients and the sheer balance of flavours has resulted in a menu that is lip-smacking while remaining true to the spirit of the month.
The nine-course meticulously crafted menu is a melange of flavours, served with a lot of flair. It begins with a pre-starter, the Kataifi samosa – the name itself an ode to this region. This ‘samosa with a difference’ comprises potato mixture wrapped in Kaitaifi pastry (instead of the usual maida) and served with the most delicious and fresh mint yogurt chutney. Pop one in the mouth and you can’t wait for another one. But wait, there is a lot of distance to cover so on to the next course!
Followed by a cold starter, the Palak Patta chaat immediately brings back memories of home. The spinach leaf is crunchy and you can taste the faint hint of carom seeds. But what adds to the flavour are the chutneys and the bed of balsamic strawberries (yes! Perhaps it should be called a strawberry chaat then!) on which it is served. The sweet-tangy-crunchy essence blows your mind away!
During the course of our conversation, Chef Khullar explained how the starters and the small bits were perhaps more difficult to craft than the main course. And once you taste the starters, it’s easy to see why. The portions might be small but each pack in massive flavours. The choice is vast but we will break it down for you. Do not miss the achari paneer tikka stuffed in thin roomali roti or you will regret it for life. The paneer tikka is probably the most overused item on an Indian menu. You may have had it a zillion times before but there is something about this particular concoction grilled to perfection. This one stays true to the roots without any experimentation but it’s balance of the spices that take it to another level. If you have always loved paneer tikka, you will fall for it harder. If you are bored of it, then try this version to rediscover your love for it.
A small portion of Makkai ki khichdi is a good take on the traditional rice dish albeit it wouldn’t rank extremely high on the overall menu. What makes it a winner still is the kakhra chips that decorate its rim. Tribute to Gujarat, checked.
Makkai ki Khichi
And then comes the pièce de résistance – beef seekh kabab. Yes, Kebab is an important part of Ramadan menu but who could have thought it could taste this good? This is seekh kebab at its most sublime - juicy, delicious and flavorful without being too heavy on the palate. We seriously doubt if we had tasted anything better. 10 on 10. If you have space after all this, try the mains that boast of the more familiar chicken and lamb curries (for meat and poultry lovers) and the usual mushroom for veggies. Once again, the sides win hands down. Our ultimate favourite being the anda paratha. One hopes this makes its way to the main menu for it’s that perfect. Taking you back to the egg kiosks on the streets of Delhi, but served with the flourish of Dubai, this is a paratha that ticks every box in the cookbook.
The pics don't do justice to this incredible seekh kebab
But how can any meal be over without dessert? Our vote goes to the Dodha pudding – a traditional Punjabi sweet – which is essentially steamed pudding made of wheat, milk and sugar though this one was topped with homemade coconut, milk and vanilla essence. It’s a meal that you would not want to end; after a day of fasting, if you are looking for a feast that will not just take you down memory lane but also leave an impression for a long time, you know where to where to head this month.