A little while ago the wonderful people from Ashiana by Vineet invited me to dine in their restaurant and I couldn’t have been more excited, the chance to try the menu set by such an amazing chef was not one I was about to pass up.
Starting his career with the Oberoi hotels in India, Vineet Bhatia moved to London to show the Brits how Indian food really should be done, his fresh take on classic Indian dishes was a hit and his restaurant Zakia was awarded a Michelin star in 2001.
Carrying his unique style over to Dubai Vineet Bhatia has opened two restaurants in the city now and Ashiana is a beautiful nod to his Indian heritage with his “evolved” indian food and classic decor, stepping into this restaurant is taking a trip to an India in days gone by.
When we arrived I could not have been more in awe, the restaurant is beautiful, so elegant and traditional and so incredibly relaxing, it’s transports you straight to South East Asia.
The staff were so lovely and our waiter knew amazing amount about the menu , he was absolutely full of recommendations – thankfully because with so many mouth watering options his suggestions were very much welcomed!
As a little nibble we started with some poppadoms, these came with two different dipping sauces, a mango and apricot chutney and a beetroot yoghurt, I could have spend the whole night eating these, just give me a giant bowl of them and a spoon. But I had to save room, there was much more to come!
Before the arrival of our first course we were presented with an amuse bouche, a delicious paneer scramble with a tomato chutney on a toasted flat bread. Talk about blending flavours, the only way I can describe it is to think of that scene in Ratatouille where Remy is describing food and how you can eat one flavour and another but when you put them together it’s a whole symphony of flavours, that is what this was. I tried a little of each element first but when I ate everything together it was something new, something I have never experienced before – this blend of flavours was mesmerizing, I was in love.
After that little taste adventure I was unbelievably excited about the starters, we had ordered the Broccoli Chadni and the Chutney Chicken Tikka and when it arrived I could not get over how beautifully presented it was.
The broccoli came engulfed in a fennel khoya cheese, inside the vegetables still had a bite to them but the cheese was soft and had such an interesting flavour to it, it was like the best broccoli gratin you’ve every had only a million times better. It was served with a delightfully sweet and tangy pineapple chutney which just cut through the creamy cheese and complimented the freshness of the broccoli.
Then there was the chicken tikka which was just something else entirely, these tender bits of chicken were cooked to perfection in a coriander and mint chutney, just at the touch of a fork the meat fell apart, it was so juicy and packed with flavours. Safe to say I have never had chicken tikka like it.
When the mains arrived the smell at our table was almost overwhelming, everything was packed with the most perfect and balanced blend of spices with every element carefully incorporated into the dish.
We had chosen a chicken and a vegetable dish, the Murg Makhanwala which is what is more commonly known as butter chicken but with it’s creamy, sweetness and the tender chicken this was nothing like the average Indian take away, and the Banaris Aloo, a dish of potatoes filled with khoya cheese, dried fruit and smothered in a mouth watering jaggery tomato sauce. It was a good thing that we had plenty of naan for scooping up those sauces; the naans themselves were some of the best things I’ve ever eaten, we had the red onion and coriander and the zataar ones, which were crisp and full of flavour, there is no other way to describe them other than heavenly.
After we had finished I was so full and as much as I would have loved to try one of their lovely sounding desserts I knew there was no way I would have space so I ordered a Chai and sipped on it quietly while allowing everything to digest.
Just thinking about this meal now makes me want to head to Asiana by Vineet for dinner tonight and as someone who has only just recently developed a taste for Indian food it is safe to say this has ruined it for me, I struggle to believe there will every be anything quite as good as these amazing dishes; though I will admit that when I got home I looked up the recipe for the Murg Makhanwala and will at some point attempt to recreate it, when I’m feeling brave.